Tag Archives: Fitbit

Cow Creek Trails Via Gem Lake, Estes Park CO Hiked 11/16/13

28 Nov

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Gem Lake Trail> Cow Creek TrailHead

Starting Elevation:  7882 Ft

Highest elevation: 8830 Ft

Trail Length:  Officially we did 9.2 miles around trip, my Fitbit said we did close to 11 miles ( it took us approximately 5.5 hours)

Trail Uses:  Hiker only

Degree of difficulty:  I consider Gem Lake Moderate, after the floods I think there are many more strenuous parts. If you are going to Cow Creek I think difficult would make sense with all the ups and downs and distance.

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead parking lot

Pets: No Dogs allowed as this is all Rocky Mountain National Park

VIews on the way to Cow Creek

VIews on the way to Cow Creek

It had been just over 2 months since those devastating floods hit so much of our front range and no where was harder hit then Lyons as well as the most of the ways in to Estes Park.   I have been reading about the recovery and the how desperate things are in those hard hit communities for small businesses.  The amazing part is how quickly CDOT has managed to repair so many major arteries helping to get tourism back as quickly as possible, but for some businesses it is already too late.  That is why on this particular weekend I searched long and hard for a hike near both Estes Park and Lyons so that we could spend some money in each town trying to help out where we could.  What I didn’t expect was how hard it would be to find a trail we could get too that hadn’t been obliterated in parts or in total. Finally at 10:30 the Friday night before I saw that the Gem Lake/Lumpy Ridge Trail system was intact and not just the trail but the roads to get there was all open too.

Map of trail system

Map of trail system

I had wanted the trail to be more challenging but I also knew that I had a girls hike on Sunday so it was worth it just to get up there and spend some money in those towns.

The weather forecast wasn’t that great either, we had a small window before a nice snow storm hit Estes Park and a huge wind warning went into effect.  We maybe had until 2 when we left our house.  When we got to the trailhead it was already snowing and the wind was whipping up pretty good at 8AM.  But it was also so beautiful being both sunny and snowing with almost no cars in the parking lot – we took off.

Wind and storm coming in early

Wind and storm coming in early

The trail has taken quite a bit of damage from the floods but was still hike-able, although RMNP had put up “hike at your own risk” signs at the beginning.  We flew up the Gem Lake trail, when we got to the lake itself the wind was so hard it pulling off drops of water off the lake, turning it to ice which was pelting us as we walked by.  It was so fun to watch, not so great to walk through.  We went right past the lake to the next section of trail starting our long journey down to Cow Creek , what we didn’t expect was how flipping cold that wind would make everything.  I had a first on this hike…. I actually took off my pants on the hike to put on long underwear, thank goodness we didn’t see any traffic ….because that would have been quite a show.  It was crazy insane cold  taking off my pants but I can tell you it saved me for the rest of the hike.

Trail signage just past Gem Lake

Trail signage just past Gem Lake

One more trail break before Cow Creek

One more trail break before Cow Creek

After putting on those extra layers on, we started moving at a good pace but steadily down with a few small ups.  Having never done this part of the trail before, I can’t say for sure but it seemed like there was some damage from the floods it was still easily hike-able with little worry about a lot of risk. We did 2.8 miles out to the Cow Creek trailhead and then headed back.  I imagine the views on the way to Cow Creek are usually pretty astounding, but they were mostly obscured by the storm moving towards us.   Even so it was amazing to behold.

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Climbing back up to Gem Lake was beautiful and getting back to the lake was interesting in that the wind was twice as bad as it was a few hours before.  Once we pushed back through the wind, we hung out in the shelter of trees and rocks for a few minutes just to marvel at ferocity if the wind.

Snow blowing at Gem Lake

Snow blowing at Gem Lake

On the way down from Gem Lake we saw a lot more traffic but nothing like there is on a good day.  Upon finishing the hike, we quickly drove over to Estes Park and hit a few stores to spend as much as we could afford.  Those owners were crazy appreciative.

Driving back, I was able to be the passenger and take in the damage from the floods.  It was heartbreaking, I don ‘t know how all those people are coping and moving forward.  There were pieces of route 36 on the other side of the St.Vrain Creek, so much debris or trees with guard rails wrapped around them….. it was weird and sad and hopeful.

I don’t know if you ever find yourself close to these communities, but if you do please spend some money and help out these small businesses.  They are hanging on by threads and struggling to make it through this mess.  I caught a few pictures of the damage and a few favorites…….

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Me at Gem Lake on the way back… Man those winds are cold!

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Repeater hike(s) Roxborough State Park – Carpenters Peak & Fountain Valley Trail 1/25/13

26 Jan
View on the Carpenters Peak trail about half way up.

View on the Carpenters Peak trail about half way up.

Whenever I go out-of-town, especially to sea level, coming back to Denver is an adjustment, an almost 2 week adjustment.  Since I went to LA for my annual girls trip last Thursday and returned just this past Tuesday, I was not optimistic about my ability to hike anything new or tough.  We decided to go back to Roxborough State Park to see what we could manage.  Plus this would be our 11th visit to a Colorado State park which means we made money on our pass today, yay us!  The really nice thing about the park is the trail set up, you could easily hike all 3 big trails without crossing over the same terrain or going out of you way to get to the next segment.  When I got up this morning I was worried that the Carpenters Peak Trail ( for trail details click the link ) may be too much for me and a couple of times it was.  I definitely struggled up this mountain and had some altitude tough moments, but the physical activity wasn’t at all a problem.  I was surprised when we came down this trail, I could do more.   Between our 2 options I decided the easier Fountain Valley trail ( for trail details click the link) was the wiser choice.  At the end of the hike we had cleared 8.7 miles based on the map and 9.5 miles based on my Fitbit, not too shabby.  Plus we got a total of 189 flights of stairs climbed, I love my Fitbit I am obsessed with finding out how many flights of stairs we have climbed.

The quirky thing about hiking today was 2 fold, one we are desperate for some moisture here.  It is so dry that our fire season is actually starting now instead of during the summer months.  I remember our first month here people were thrilled that it was raining and at the time I thought it was cute, now I totally get it. I find myself trying out rain/snow dances in hopes the gods will favor us!  The insanely dry weather along with warm temperatures also means the brown cloud of the front range ramped up early and got thick. You can actually see it in the picture of Denver at the beginning of my post. By the time we got home it was 10 times worse.  The air quality warnings were red or high today, saying to avoid driving and stay indoors….which we ignored of course.

The other quirky thing is the temperature.  It was nice and sunny this morning and while just under 40 when we started, we were quickly sweating and stripping down, but at the top of Carpenters peak it was windy and chilly we turned around almost immediately.  I almost went to the shorts feature of my hiking pants during my second stage of taking stuff off but was so glad I didn’t do it.  The trail itself had a ton of ice on it and so we knew it would be a muddy trip down.  This trail is not one you want to do when it is muddy, its like hiking with 3 extra pounds of mud on your shoes or wearing 4 inch heels, going downhill on a moving platform.

Trail conditions

Trail conditions

The mud was pretty bad and another reason why I chose the Fountain Valley trail as my add-on option, because they cover it with pebbles pretty regularly and the mud and ice are not a problem.

Trail Conditions on Fountain Valley

Trail Conditions on Fountain Valley

The best part about today was practically flying out of bed to get on the trail.  It has been a weird month+, traveling home for Xmas, getting sick for so long and then barely a week of exercising before heading off to my girls trip.  I have felt like a slug and staying on track with my weight became really hard, harder than I thought it would.  I need to learn how to control my eating and drinking behaviors on trips.  But getting out there and hiking a hike that has gorgeous views and a nice climb is exactly the medicine I needed.  Nothing charges my batteries like a good sweaty hike!

Next week should be a brand new hike and repeaters shouldn’t so frequently anymore.

Kathy and Aaron at the summit of Carpenters Peak

Kathy and Aaron at the summit of Carpenters Peak