Tag Archives: Mount Evans

Evergreen Mountain, Evergreen CO (Repeater) Girls Hike #3, hiked 10/20/13

9 Nov

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I love a weekend where I get to hike twice and I super love hikes with my girlfriends!  This particular weekend was extra great because both happened!

I am such a lucky girl!

I woke up early Sunday all excited for my girlfriend hike and then got my second cancellation… but that still left me one girlfriend to enjoy the day with.  I will tell you that I was somewhat tired from Bergen Peak the day before( and celebratory drinking post hike) but I at least I had a good idea of trail conditions, since Evergreen Mt at Three Sisters/Aldfer (Hike details here) was just a few miles away and this is where I was taking my girlfriend(s).  I had decided as I was getting ready and that even if they all canceled I would still go…. But Carrie was my trooper and showed up early even!

The weather was not what I had hoped, it was going to be a tough hike for her and I wanted our typical blue bird skies when we got to the summit so that it all felt extra worth it.  But in the end she totally rocked it and the cloudy skies gave a beautiful depth and moodiness to Mt. Evans that isn’t normally there on a sunny day.   Which was kind of better, a moody Mt. Evans is incredibly beautiful, worth all that effort and more.

Hiking with Carrie was wonderful.  Not only did I get to be a hiking guide, but I got to spend good time with one of the most amazing people I have ever met.  She has been an incredible friend to me since I moved here and someone I have come to rely on heavily for advice.  This hike was no different, she is such  a true and amazing friend I was so thankful to get the morning to talk and hike with her.

The trail itself was in ok shape, it was hit hard in the floods we had in September but had faired better then other trails…. only one section was closed and there were some washouts along the way but nothing too bad.  I was glad we could enjoy it that day.

On the bonus side, we had the trail mostly to ourselves all the way up and Carrie blew my mind with how quickly she was moving up the trail.  On the way down we saw all the traffic of the day and strangely  they were all bizarrely attractive men.  We laughed a lot about it and simply enjoyed the view!!!!!

I know I say it a lot, but on this day like so many others, I was reminded of why I moved here and why I love hiking so much!!!

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Chicago Lakes Trail #52, Arapahoe National Forest – Idaho Springs CO 8/10/13

15 Aug
Upper Chicago Lake

Upper Chicago Lake

The Chicago Lakes Trail #52

Starting Elevation: 10,650 ( Lowest point of the hike 10,320)

Highest Elevation: 11,740 ( Lower lake at 11,420ft.  Total elevation gain approximately 2000ft)

Trail Length:  Officially I saw everything from 9-10 miles, my fitbit said we went 11 miles but we did walk around the upper lake a lot.

Trail Uses:  hiker in all places and then horses in some….NO BIKES

Degree of difficulty:  Moderate to difficult mostly due to length and one scramble to Upper Chicago Lake.

Bathrooms:  1 Creepy one at the Echo Lake Picnic parking lot ( For some reason Denver County Mountain Park use the S shaped ones with no doors…..)

Pets:  Yes for dogs, I am not sure if a leash was required but we saw dog owners with dogs on leash and off.

Fees:  None

Lower lake trail on right

I have been wanting to try this hike since April.  I had targeted as one of our conditioning hikes to get ready for our first 14er, but then we got those crazy snow storms throughout April and May which meant the trail was under many feet of snow when I originally wanted to attempt it.  When it was finally possible to hike it, it was mountain goat and sheep mating season and Park Rangers ask that you do not hike here in order to let the goats and sheep do their thing.   Which of course I respected since the poor animals deserve some peace while they mate.  We weren’t expecting to do these re-acclimating hikes, but since I was forced to get used to it all again I figured now was the perfect time to check them out.

I got to the trail head at 7AM and it was COLD, I guess fall is coming more quickly then I want.  I got bundled up and was even glad I had gloves on hand, as I think it was like 35 degrees at the start of our hike.

Starting from the parking lot

Starting from the parking lot

My suggestion is to park at the Echo Lake Picnic Area, as that is really close to the Chicago Lakes Trail which is the hardest part of the hike to actually find.  Since I followed the book suggestion and we got there insanely early, parking here was no problem( not a lot of parking spots here) but you can park all around the Lake and at the Echo Lake Lodge.  The trail head is a little off the Lake Path on the Southwest side of the Echo Lake.

Echo Lake

Echo Lake

The trail entrance on the southwest of the Lake

The trail entrance on the southwest of the Lake

Chicago Lakes Trail #52 Official start

Chicago Lakes Trail #52 Official start

Not long after you get on the official trail, you immediately descend about 3-400 feet and cross over the Chicago Creek.  Portions of this descent will challenge those who may  have “issues” with heights as the Switchback initially is very close to the a nice steep drop off.  It also gives great views of your final destination and Mt. Evans.  It was a beautiful view to have while heading down.

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Crossing the Chicago Creek at the bottom of the initial descent.

Crossing the Chicago Creek at the bottom of the initial descent.

From this point forward the trail is very well-marked, you take an access road up for about a mile, past the Idaho Springs Reservoir.  I have to admit during my research for the hike, I was worried about this road section but actually it’s fine and looks more like a wide path then road.  They are doing some type of maintenance by the Reservoir but on a weekend there was nothing to see but the equipment.

Entering the Road portion

Entering the Road portion

You want to look for this sign on the way back so you don't miss the way back to your car

You want to look for this sign on the way back to your car it is across the road from the sign above

The road part of the trail

The road part of the trail

Cabins as you pass Idaho Springs Reservoir

Cabins as you pass Idaho Springs Reservoir

As we crossed over to the Mt. Evans Wilderness, the trail went back to single track and starts climbing more aggressively through an old burn scar from a fire in the 70’s. As it flattened out for a short stretch, the wild flowers were everywhere and the views of mountains on either side of us was pretty amazing.

Mt. Evans WildernessPermit Box for Mt. Evans wilderness

Trail goes back to single track and gets steeper.

Trail goes back to single track and gets steeper.

I am always surprised at how beautiful a burn scar is as it ages.  All the below are from that burn scar.

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Water Crossing in the Burn Scar

Water Crossing in the Burn Scar

Trail levels out before we descend to the lower Lake

Trail levels out before we descend to the lower Lake

As we came up to the lower Chicago lake, outside of the obvious beauty, we were enchanted by how dense the brush was on either side of the trail and how moist everything was.  We also started descending again and there was more and more mud with standing water on the trail.

Entering the Dense coverage

Entering the Dense coverage

This was also a little tricky through here as I knew we had to stay right on the trail to get to the upper Chicago Lake and since we were heading down through such dense coverage, I was certain we missed the turn off.  We came to this huge boulder and thought maybe this is where we go right but it wasn’t.

When you come to this huge boulder go left

When you come to this huge boulder go left

Coming out of the dense coverage

Coming out of the dense coverage

In fact, it isn’t really until we started climbing out of the dense tree/bush coverage,  that we came to the trail going off left to lower Chicago Lake and we stayed right to climb to upper Chicago Lake.

This last climb does require some scrambling but nothing too bad, we did put away our poles so that we could use our hands freely.

Trail conditions up the scramble Scramble

Upon cresting the final lip of the scramble, the upper Chicago lake was spread out below us.  It was spectacular!  It took us about 2.5 hours to get there and we ended up sitting around taking pictures while snacking for almost an hour.  Plus we were fascinated with the people climbing up to Summit Lake and possibly Mt. Evans (14er) as this is also the crazy long route ( 14-16 miles round trip) to summit Mt. Evans, on the south side of the lake.  It looked really steep and as the wind picked up we saw the little group slow down quite a bit.

Upper Chicago Lake

Upper Chicago Lake

This is the trail going up to Summit Lake I tried to zoom up as there as people ascending

This is the trail going up to Summit Lake I tried to zoom up as there as people ascending

This is an in and back hike, the first one where my books said it would take longer on the trip back then it does on the trip there.   There were a couple of reasons we took longer on our way back, that scramble to the upper lake is actually pretty steep and we took our time getting down it, then the last .8 miles is straight up 3-400 vertical feet up a single track trail that is heavily used. It did take us almost 3 hours to get back.

Also the trail started getting pretty busy on the way back with like 50 back packers coming in to camp by the lakes for the night, among a bunch of regular hikers.  It made us very jealous as camping up there must be so lovely!  It was even more busy between the Mt. Evans Wilderness boundary and the start of the hike with people picnicking by Echo Lake looking for some pre- Picnic exercise.  Overall it was a beautiful hike and again renewed my love of hiking and Colorado!  If you ever have the chance, please check this one out, it is worth the effort!  After the directions to the trail head will my favorite pictures

Directions: 

The Chicago Lakes Trail begins at Echo Lake (west side), 13.25 miles south of I-70 on HWY 103.

From I-70, exit #240 and head south on HWY 103 (toward Mt Evans) for 13 miles to Echo Lake. Turn right at the Echo Lake Picnic Area, down the first dirt road on your right and continue .25 miles to the parking area.

Flying Pig Cloud

Flying Pig Cloud

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Bergen Peak Trail, Elk Meadow Open space *AGAIN* 4/20/13

20 Apr

The start

This week has been tough on so many levels for so many reasons and I know I am not the only one struggling to find balance and meaning.  I can tell you that the only thing on our minds yesterday was getting out hiking and getting as high as we could (altitude wise of course), but with all the snow we got this week any hike was going to be challenging so we decided that it was going to be Bergen Peak …..again  Details of the Hike here

Honestly, I was not optimistic about our hike yesterday but we figured let’s get all our stuff together and go as far as can.  A pie in the sky hike would be to do the exact same hike we did here 2 weeks ago ( Details here), 13.5 ish miles in 6 hours with around 2400ft ish total elevation gain.  The storm that hit us this past week dropped around 2 feet of snow on Bergen Peak AND we had a chance of rain later sometime this afternoon.  All I wanted was a good hike that would help us to keep moving towards a 14er this summer.  We started out slightly bundled up, gators on for high snow with actual hiking boots (not usual and decidedly heavier) and prepared for every thing the mountains have to offer.  What we got was surprising, the snow was deep and every where but at first it was easier to move through and at just a little over half of a mile  We saw our first herd of elk

Elk 1Elf 2Elk 3

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After 7 years of living here we finally saw our first Elk!!! It was so super cool and we were crazy excited to see them….I even pulled out my big camera which I feel like I only carry for weight building lately.  None of the pictures turned out as good as I wanted them to be but I can tell you it was awesome!!!!

We started out really slow and as we climbed up I figured  if it takes the whole day, then it takes the whole day just as long as we finished before the rain was predicted to start at 4…did I mention we started hiking at 7:30?  At that early in the morning the snow was perfect to walk on, but other than the occasional  slide it wasn’t too bad and there had been enough people before us to create a very nice path.  The traffic on the trail was really light going up we saw one other couple hiking and then one jogger.  That jogger told us he spooked a bear about a 1/2 mile up the summit trail, our pace became slower and we were super attentive, stopping for any little noise.  I was really torn here, scared to see my first bear and yet wondering if I could catch one in a picture.  We then had the good luck of meeting up with another hiker who had just gone up to the summit and she saw no bears so we continued on.  Here are a couple of pictures of what the trail looked like on our way up:

Bergen Peak trail conditionsBergen Peak TrailTrail conditions at the top

It was a beautiful day and crazy challenging, it was like walking up and down sand dunes with lead weights on our ankles and back.  In the end it took us 4 hours to get to the top, which was covered with so much snow and I only fell once, thank goodness for all that snow it totally made my face plant more funny than painful.  We don’t know this trail enough to walk where there weren’t already foot prints and so I was challenged in getting any good shots of Mt. Evans at the top but Pike’s peak was AMAZING!!!!  When we were about to leave another hiker had just arrived and he was so nice, but he told us something new and embarrassing. Before today we always stopped at the vista point assuming it was the summit, but in fact it is not so he showed us where it was and took a picture of us so we had actual proof we made it to the summit.   What a funny lesson for us, I was such a proud hiker until that moment!

Proof we made it to the summit of Bergen Peak

Proof we made it to the summit of Bergen Peak

In the end we did just under 12 miles even thought my fitbit said 14, we are crazy insane tired like my joints have never hurt so much tired and my calves have been aching.  The day was beautiful and different I couldn’t get enough of it all.  I am in love with this particular hike and most times it is pretty crowded but yesterday we had almost the whole thing to ourselves.  Most hikers who actually attempted the peak did the standard route up and back ( Sleepy S > Elk Meadow> Bergen Peak Trail > Summit Trail), we decided to do the loop via Too Long down from the summit trail and just enjoyed the complete solitude.  By the time we headed down the snow was starting to get slushy and slidey, I took the advice I received from Didier when I did White Ranch Park with my nieces last month and took a lot of small steps it helped so much!!!  I still had sore feet but no blistering like I did then…..

Here are some of our favorite pictures from the hike:

on the way up

on the way up

Pikes Peak from Bergen Peak trail

Pikes Peak from Bergen Peak trail

Mt. Evans from Bergen Peak Trail

Mt. Evans from Bergen Peak Trail

Snow is to the top of the Scenic view sign

Snow is to the top of the Scenic view sign

Looking out from the scenic view sign

Looking out from the scenic view sign

Pikes Peak 2

Pikes Peak viewed form the top

Another Pikes peak shot from the top

Another Pikes peak shot from the top

View at the top

View at the top

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Us half way down

Us half way down

Snow moving in as we hike down.

Snow moving in as we hike down.

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We finished just in time!

We finished just in time!

Bergen Peak Trail + – Elk Meadow Jefferson County Open Space 4/6/13

6 Apr
The view at the top - Mt. Evans

The view at the top – Mt. Evans

I am on cloud 9, seriously 50 pounds lost on my weigh in yesterday and then today we kicked major butt on our hike.  We did Bergen Peak last August and to be honest it was insanely tough then, like I was practically in tears on the way down thinking “why the hell did I let myself get this way”…. it felt great to finish it with more of a “wow I can still do more” today.

First, we did a repeater today because frankly the weather is all over the place and I am super not confident about what we can do when the trail gets insanely unpredictable.  For me, a trail I know is much easier than one I don’t regardless of what ice and snow may be present.  Plus this park is amazing and it got us up to 9700 ft, we need to gain altitude and work on our lungs again, so I managed to get an extra 2 miles out of this park, which is of course not that hard.   So in total we did “officially” 12.5 miles and my fitbit said 13.5 miles, which took us 6 hours to complete.

In looking for any recent hikes here, I found very few pictures showing trail conditions, so here they are.  There is not much before we got to the Bergen Peak trail, then there is ice and snow periodically throughout:

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but really until we got to the summit trail at the top, we didn’t need any aids.  It was mostly bursts of ice here and there, but at the top is was consistently snow and ice.

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And it was still not that bad, probably because we were some of the first on the trail  so the ice hadn’t settled in when we passed through so we never put anything on until the way down and then it was only me wearing extra help.  I imagine that after we went through it may have been a little more challenging but by then it was getting warmer and digging in was not all that bad.

The day was perfect, it started out a little chilly with some clouds expected.  For the first time we didn’t over dress, even though we had more on board just in case. As we climbed there were things we hadn’t seen the last time we hiked this, like Pike’s Peak.

Pike's Peak - our peek of it lower on the trail

Pike’s Peak – our peek of it lower on the trail

When we hiked this last August,we were in the middle of  a series of fires and the views were limited because of all the haze from those.  I had no idea that we would be able to see Pike’s peak on a clearer day, it is 60-ish miles south of Bergen peak, so imagine my delight as looking up from our climb up to see this.

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The other bonus on hiking today, there was not all that many people out this early in the season we didn’t even see one other person until we got on the summit trail and then it was 3  people in like an hour.  We were almost 9 miles through the hike before traffic picked up.  It looks like the lower trails have much more traffic this time of year.

All and all, it was a great hike and we felt really good getting it done in a way that made us feel so strong and confident about our future hikes.

Here are our favorite pictures from the hike, and for the record I am in love with Mt.Evans.  Everyday it greets me as I go to work and tells me the weekend is going to be awesome because it means I will be up there, some where getting more views of the amazing prowess of mother nature.  Please forgive my over attention to it, this hike gives you breathtaking views of Mt. Evans and so I couldn’t help myself in paying it extra homage!  Do this hike if you can one day, it is worth every single step!

The view from the summit trail facing northwest

The view from the summit trail facing northwest

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North Front rangeMt.Evans 1Me on the edge

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We made itUS close

Belcher Hill Trail – White Ranch Park, Golden CO 2/23/13

23 Feb
Belcher Hill Trail - White ranch park

Belcher Hill Trail – White ranch park

Belcher Hill Trail

Lowest Elevation:  Approximately 6100 feet

Highest Elevation: 7800 + ( total Elevation gain of almost 2000 feet with a few declines and then having to climb back up)

Trail Length:  According to the Park Map it is 8.8 miles roundtrip but my fitbit said we got 10.5 miles and every account of hiking the trail said it was 9 miles round trip.

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker, Horses

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate to difficult ( today we got an extra hard workout because of the snow) mostly due to length and incline

Bathrooms:  Yes, at the trailhead and then I assume there is one at the sawmill campsite and then at the west parking lot if you want to walk over there

Dogs:  Yes,  I think they are supposed to be on leash but none were so maybe not….

A good View

A good View

When I was thinking about today’s hike, I wanted to be realistic about how much snow we might encounter.  We actually got a little snow this week, not as much as we need but it is at least something and since we are so desperate for precipitation I will not complain at all about it.  Almost exactly a year ago I found this particular trail when my good friend Karin was telling me about how much she loved White Ranch Park and I looked up the open space to see what I could try there.  I was terrified by what I read about the Belcher Hill trail, the descriptions were all about how tough the incline was and how busy it was.  Lately I have been wondering how hard it really is and how much hype I have given it based on my physicality a year ago.  Since we got the snow I thought today was a good day to face my fears.

We LOVED it!  Yes, it is challenging in that it is pretty much a straight climb up over the length of 3-ish miles with a 1700 foot elevation gain.  But oh the views, they are just amazing!  I have been to this park a dozen times on the easier Rawhide trail and while there are some really spectacular views of Denver and the front range on that trail, it is nothing like what we saw today.  We could see Mt. Evans at one point and the sun perfectly highlighted all the beauty for us while we had some cloud cover overhead.

Parking lot

Parking lot

Open Space Signage

Open Space Signage

Ok let’s talk trail, we started from the East Parking lot for White Ranch Park  and it is surrounded by private land in fact we went through a few gates and crossed over someone’s driveway.  They had horses and the horses were given free reign, it was pretty cool.

Horses

Horses

The trail actually drops down and goes past some pretty amazing estates and so is surrounded by private property signs and barbed wire just to make sure you don’t go off trail.  It is pretty cool that these people let us go through or around their properties and enjoy the beauty they paid for… and paid a lot!

Trail conditions at the beginnig

It was pretty snowy when we started, but fortunately there had been enough people before us that we had a solid path to follow and with no ice.  We really came at the right time as only a few people had stamped down the snow.  We continued down until we crossed over a short bridge and then the climbing began and never seemed to stop.  At first the snow was a non-issue:

Steep incline

Steep incline

We climbed for almost 2 miles before we started to hit the other trail junctions.  I have read that a lot of people opt to take the Sawmill or Mustang loops instead of doing the straight in, straight out of Belcher Hill, on today’s adventure we kinda understood why as the snow was way deeper on Belcher Hill.  At the same time there is an attraction in getting a full loop that we miss in doing straight in straight out.  We wanted the toughest workout we could get so it was all Belcher Hill all the way and the trail was so easy to follow.  Here are the trails we passed on our journey:

Mustange 1Roundup trailbreakSawmill Trail Break

At the Sawhill Trailhead, the Belcher Hill Trail was almost lost in the snow and went down to a single track.  It was hard to see the trail in the picture but Aaron was nice enough to show us the way.  We weren’t sure how deep it got because no one had gone this way since at least the last snow.  We probably went in for a longer then we should have before we put on our gators to deal with all the snow but we were the one making all the tracks for those who followed, it was pretty awesome.

Trail COnditions at the top

It doesn’t look too bad here, but we were mostly walking through snow that was half way to our knees a lot of the time.  It was a great workout and even better, I still felt strong through the toughest parts.  It was a really great hiking day for me. From here we climbed a lot more, higher than we have ever been in White Ranch Park and the views were breathtaking.  When we got the second crossing with the Mustang trail we started to descend to the West parking lot and the final stretch of the trail.

Mustange 2 trail breaklast section of trail Trail marker from west entrance

Initially our intention was to do this final stretch( just .4 miles according to the map) but all the snow traversing above had made us  a little nervous about our stamina and how we would fare on our way back, so we turned around at the West parking lot and headed back to the east parking lot.  On the return trip we encountered the most traffic of the day, I guess everyone was thinking later is better, lucky for us!

This is a great trail and while not at all popular when there is snow on the ground, I personally think it was the best possible time to be out on it.  From what I read getting ready to hike this trail, it sounds pretty busy in the summer/fall and mostly with bikers.  But today was almost perfect and very low traffic.  I know we will do this one again and again there was just something about getting to the highest point and the views we had of the surrounding mountains, I could live up there!  It also occurred to me while we were climbing away, we have managed to hike at least 44 out of the past 52 weeks.  It felt so good!  The weekend doesn’t feel right anymore unless I am out on a trail getting my Colorado mountain views fill.

This trail may be for the more hardy but all in all, it is so worth doing!  After the directions I will post our favorite pictures.

Directions:

East Access: 5611 Glencoe Valley Road, Golden
Take State Highway 93 north from Golden 1.7 miles to West 56th Avenue. Turn left (west) on Pine Ridge Road and travel about 1 mile east to the parking lot.

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