Tag Archives: Outdoor

Lower Mohawk Lake (Repeater), Hiked 9/28/13

19 Oct

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When we got back to our condo after hiking Hanging Lake, the weather actually got worse but that didn’t stop us from hitting the hot tub…..in blizzard type weather.   It was awesome!

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When I talked to the front desk they said that there would likely be 3-5 inches of snow in the morning but it would also be beautiful and sunny first thing in the morning so we stuck to the plan of hitting the Mohawk lakes.  I can’t lie, I always have  the underlying motive of trying to get all my favorite people to fall in love with Colorado and want to move here too.   For me the mohawk lakes ( Hike details here) show all the best of Colorado and is not that long, just outside of Breckenridge, with lakes and beautiful views.   The down side of Mohawk Lakes is that it is crowded with lots of people who don’t care about rules or any one else’s experience (did you read bitter here because it is so there).

It was pretty cold when we started but Mary was a trooper and getting suspicious.  She had asked how the trail was the night before and I said it is pretty easy (lie) until it is not (truth) and that is pretty much flat (lie) until it is not (truth)…. lets just say half way through she was on to me….. I think the best part was when we came to the series of ponds and I pointed out where we were going and she said um WHAT!?!?!?! I totally got what she was feeling, I remember doing this trail and thinking there is no way I am making it up there.  I told her trust me, before you know it we will be up there and you will wonder why you thought it was too hard.  She totally didn’t believe me….. until not that long after we were up there and she was like “WOW”

There was one little wrinkle that presented itself as we got closer to the falls  there was a group of  7 or 8 hikers with like 9 dogs…off leash (illegal) that kept kinda of barging their way past or into our hike.  At first it was just the dogs that caught up to us…. then 3 owners so we thought nothing.   Just kept moving on.  But by the time we reached the scramble I was completely over it when one of the dogs pushed its way through my legs and almost knocked me over.  We waited at the start the scramble until after they passed us, I have to admit I did not know how big the group was until that moment… seriously the owner of the dog who knocked me over walked by and I said yeah I don’t want to battle on the scramble with unleashed dogs and she said imagine how hard it would be for me if I leashed her to me…. um WHAT !?!?!?!?!?!.  Then the last person in their group was trying to be nice and let us go ahead of them and I said there is no way I can do the scramble and battle 9  unleashed dogs….  My sister was surprised at my open contempt.  Heres the thing  I LOVE dogs…. I Mean super love them but on a trail with a scramble at 11,000+ ft, an untrained dog is like asking to hurt someone.   Trained controlled dogs no problem….puppies with no training and an owner who thinks it is not her problem…. HUGE problem.

Mary and I at the Continental Falls

Mary and I at the Continental Falls

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Outside of my uncontrolled dog issues, Mary was not faring as well as I had hoped she would.  She has “issues” with heights and the huge expanses as we climbed the scramble made me realize maybe she needs a better guide, which immediately transported me back to my first attempt.  It is freaky when you first climb it.  With the snow from the night before…. well it looked intimidating.  Mary, though is a fighter( I think she got that from our mom and dad)  she battled her discomfort the whole time.  When we got to the Lower lake and decided the best choice was to eat, rest and then head down, she got it all under control like the champ she is.

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I am so happy!

Can you tell we are sisters....I mean our look couldn't be more identical

Can you tell we are sisters….I mean our look couldn’t be more identical

At the end she was so happy we made it to Lower Mohawk Lake but I think that maybe we both learned(big lesson for me) that someone who is completely ok with heights should warm up someone who isn’t a little more thoroughly. Either way it was a perfect day for us both!  Here are some of our favorite pictures from the hike.

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Us at the scramble on the way down…Mary is MUCH more relaxed here.

Views at the scramble....love how snow is like the perfect frosting.

Views at the scramble….love how snow is like the perfect frosting.

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The 2 perfect peaks are Grays and Torreys

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Spruce Mountain Trail, Larkspur CO (Repeater) 9/26/13

10 Oct
View at the top

View at the top

A couple of weeks ago I had the best visitor in town….my sister!  While we were planning her visit, she let me know she wanted to see more of Colorado and to see it the way I have been seeing it, by hiking.   We only had 5 days to visit and hike, so like a crazy person I planned aggressively, 4 hikes in those 5 days.  The day she landed I picked her up fed her and drove her right to the trailhead here for a quick acclimatizing hike.

Spruce Mountain Trail (hike details here) is one of those good an easy hikes to take flatlanders to first.  A solid 5.5 miles with a little bit of elevation gain with amazing views all up and down the front range.

When we pulled up and started getting ready to hike I noticed these 2 school buses slowing down at the entrance to the parking lot, for a second I thought maybe it was just dropping off kids after school but it was noon on a Thursday.  Sure enough both buses unloaded at the parking lot entrance for a hike….our hike …….. right then.  And then they were moving right up the trail ahead of us.  Hiking with 100-ish kids seemed like it would be…..crowded.

It was actually not that bad, we needed to move more slowly at first anyway plus we got to talk to some of the teachers.  The kids were finishing up their week of outdoor education and this hike was like their graduation.  It made me wish I had grown up in Colorado just so I could have outdoor education as part of my school curriculum.  Eventually they stopped and had lunch, when we walked past them they all cheered ….. it was kinda cool, cute and encouraging.  What a great way to start our week of hiking, with our own cheering section helping us ring in our first hike.

It. Was. Awesome!!!!!

Outside of our fabulous hiking buddies, the day was beautiful and with some wind – perfect.  We could see a lot of trail  damage from all the flooding the week before, I mean the trail was still in good shape but there were huge crevices all over the place.   We had great views of Pikes Peak and the front range but Long’s peak was hard to see because of the brown cloud that tends to sit over the front range.  We could sort of see it but not capture it in a picture.

Mary did awesome and we kicked the trail’s butt, finishing in just 2 hours, an hour less than I had planned.   Better yet, she loved the trail,  the whole time oooohhhiiiinnnngggg and aaaahhhhiiiinnnngggg.  It made the hike even more special for me!  There is something about getting to share my love of Colorado with the most important people in my life this way.  Hiking Rocks!

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Some times it is just hard to keep it together……

3 Oct
Sunset outside my front door

Sunset outside my front door

Hiking is awesome and makes everything ok for me, but sometimes even hiking can’t make reality better.

It has been a REALLY bad couple of weeks for me in areas I will never talk about here, but needless to say I made it out hiking every weekend and I haven’t gained any weight (I haven’t lost any either).  In fact I had a guest hiker here this past weekend and we did 4 hikes in 5 days.  It was a wonderful distraction for my current reality but unfortunately her departure made my current reality harder to face…like couldn’t get out of bed for a day hard to take….. but I fighting back.

Every day is a new one with new possibilities and I have 4 hikes to write about…. now 3 are repeaters but were completely different than any of the other times I had the pleasure of hiking them.   One was totally new and AMAZING!

I miss telling you about my hikes and so am going to work hard to get all the details out here as quickly as I can and then I have a hike ready to go for this weekend…. so you know I have a lot to catch up on!

Man I am so far behind….

White Ranch Park – Rawhide Trail, *Repeater* Hiked 9/2/13

5 Sep
Beautiful day to hike

Beautiful day to hike

When I have a long weekend ahead all I can think about is how I get to hike 2 times in the course of the weekend.  A hike we haven’t visited forever was the Rawhide Trail  ( Click the link for hike details) at White Ranch Park.  It is now an easy hike for us but it is a favorite one and I wanted to test out my new activity of jogging part of the trail.

I will admit that the original plan had been to do this hike on Sunday, with Monday left as a day to clean the house, maybe get some Halloween decorations up ( yes Halloween…..I am a Halloween lovin super freak) and possibly veg out on some Netflix.  However I over indulged on Saturday during our post James Peak Summit  liquid celebration and I woke up Sunday with the worst hangover I have had in almost 18 months!  Needless to say, I was not hiking anything on Sunday, but I was determined to get my second hike in and so bright and early Monday morning I hit the Rawhide trail.

It was great to see the trial again, the last time we had hiked was when my nieces were here 6 months ago.  The pace we set was aggressive, we really pushed ourselves to move as fast as we could, in fact I was surprised when we got to almost halfway in just 45 minutes and that was with a lot of climbing up.  Then we started jogging all the descents, it was a great way to challenge myself.  Before I knew it we were back at the parking lot in just an hour and a half.

The first time I did this hike, it took me over 3 hours and I was a wreck at the end, thinking that harder hikes were so far out of reach.  To be back here 18 months later crushing it the way we did on Monday….well it was pretty awesome!

These short weeks are usually torture but I have been feeling pretty awesome about how far I have come in my journey.   I am so excited and nervous about our hike this weekend!   We are getting up at 1:30 ish in hopes of getting to the summit by sunrise!  Wish us luck!!

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Catching up – 2 posts in 1. Weigh in and my 8/17/13 hike

25 Aug

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It has been a weird and crazy couple of weeks, as a result I have been very neglectful to my blog so I am going to catch it up with this combined post.

I have been fighting really hard to not give in to my bad eating habits and it paid off….I managed to take off the weight I gained back and so I am at 57.4 Lbs lost, 32.6 left to go. Yay! I just focused on working out and staying within my daily calorie allotment.

My hike last weekend ended up being a repeater. I woke up at 4AM with every intention of doing a new hike but just felt really off , like I am pretty sure I cannot do a 5-7 hour hike off, adding in 3 hours of travel time ( round trip) seemed near impossible. After my weight gain I didn’t want to not do anything either and since I was already up, I headed off to Deer Creek Canyon.  It is close to home and I knew that I could get a quick 8.6 miles in with a decent leg workout.

I will admit that I felt funky at the beginning of the hike but soon found my legs and really started moving. There is something about knowing your hike so intimately that makes it fly by and seem much easier than it used to feel.  Before I knew it I was on the final mile, which is completely downhill, and so I decided to jog it. I have started noticing that smaller steps feel much better on my tired feet when the end of a hike is near and  I am struggling with the downhill return, the only way to take smaller steps comfortably is to jog a little. Since I was feeling so good I thought I would test out how it would feel to jog for an extended period of time. It felt good and I was surprised at how far I made it. It kinda made me sit back and think hmmmm, I wonder what else I can do now that I could never even consider before.  I ended up finishing the hike in under 3 hours, a personal best for me.  Unfortunately the rest of the weekend was spent in bed feeling terrible.  I am so glad I got out when I could and I think it actually helped me get back to working out faster.  Monday morning’s workout was surprisingly good.

I did do a new hike this weekend and did some jogging again at the end, it felt great….I see a new me coming around the corner, one that might actually jog occasionally.  Who knew someone who hates jogging with a passion could find a way to like it through hiking?

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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Finch Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park – Allenspark trailhead, Allenspark CO 8/3/13

7 Aug

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The Finch Lake trail

Starting Elevation: 8526Ft

Highest Elevation: 10,165 ( Total Elevation gain around 1900Ft)

Trail Length:  Officially 8.2 miles but we wandered around the lake a lot so we ended up with 9 miles total, it took us approx. 4 hours total

Trail Uses:  Hiker only

Degree of difficulty: Moderate

Bathrooms: None

Pets:  Not allowed, as this is all in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fees: None at this trail head location(one of the reasons I chose it)

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When I was looking for a hike to hit this weekend, I needed something with some views, around 10K at its highest point and 8-9 miles in length.  I had not yet really dug into my Lakes Hiking book from Colorado Mountain Club and this was a great opportunity to see what it had to offer.   Finch Lake did not disappoint and surprisingly, for none of the reason I initially chose it.

Allenspark Trailhead Parking lot

I was honestly surprised at how hard my hikes had been the week before, I mean I knew it always takes me a minute to re-acclimate when I travel back to sea level but I thought with all I had accomplished so far I would bounce back more quickly.  The blister situation had improved over the course of the week prior but were still a significant issue.  I was pretty depressed about the fact that we were once again starting low to work our way back up to another 14er after finally climbing our fist one just a month earlier.  I manged to get over myself pretty quickly because the fact is, these mountains will be around much longer then I will, but if I don’t take care of me now I won’t get to see as much of them as they invitingly offer up to me each week.

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I got up insanely early Saturday, 4AM, because the weather forecast said that rain chances would increase even earlier then usual, around 11AM, and I wanted to make sure we got to the lake and were well on our return before any hit.  We started hiking at 7AM and while there were a few cars already in the parking lot, we only crossed paths with a few other hikers almost the whole way to the lake.

First Trail Marker

First Trail Marker

Trail Conditions for the 1st .8 miles

Trail Conditions for the 1st .8 miles

The first mile is pretty much through dense forest, in fact maybe the most dense forest I have seen since I started hiking in Colorado.  It was like hiking through a Grimm fairytale.  We met our first trail break at a little under a mile in and stayed left, the trail is really well marked so we had no problems following it correctly to our final destination. As we climbed a little out of the heavy denseness, the views started to show themselves, it was all Mt. Meeker & Long’s Peak on our right just getting better and better as we continued on.

Next trailhead

Trail Conditions for the next mile probably the steepest part of the hike

Trail Conditions for the next mile probably the steepest part of the hike

The views are starting out awesome

The views are starting out awesome

At the next trail break, we took advantage of a little outcropping to get some good pictures of the view, we were 2.2 miles away from the lake.  While we were snapping away, another hiker moved on down the trail we had been on.  At the time we didn’t think much about it, but I have to tell you when we passed him, I got the most creeped out I have ever been on a hike.  There was not really anything outwardly odd about him but what he was putting off just wasn’t right.  I used to be a victim advocate for victims of violent crime and I always listen to my gift of fear, the next 1.5 miles were a blur for me as we huffed and puffed to get as far away from him, as quickly as we could.  At one point I was considering what my options for protection were if attacked.  What changed at mile 1.5 you may wonder….. trail maintenance, there were 3 National Park workers improving the trail.  It was an immediate relief and we never saw the hiker again.

Last Trail break before Finch lake

Last Trail break before Finch lake

Trail Conditions through the burn scar

Trail Conditions through the burn scar

Cool Water crossing before we started down to the lake

Cool Water crossing before we started down to the lake

Yay Trail Maintenance

Yay Trail Maintenance

Already fixed trail

Already fixed trail

As we got closer to the lake, we saw the option to carry on to Pear lake another 2.2 miles ahead.

At Finch Lake

Trail conditions by Finch Lake

Trail conditions by Finch Lake

Since this wasn’t an option for us today, we explored the area around the lake.  It as incredibly marshy and at first the bugs were not really aware of us but then I got one quick bite and that little monster must have rang a dinner bell because I was swarmed and attacked mercilessly. I actually squealed as I ran away from my marshy perch, barely grabbing my pack en route.

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We started seeing more people around the lake coming and going up to either the camp sites or Pear Lake but from what I have read, this is a hidden gem in RMNP and so gets much less traffic then all the other lakes in the park.  It’s true, while we did see an increase in traffic after 9AM, it was one of the lighter trafficked hikes we have done lately.  Plus the no fee entrance was a huge bonus!

We turned around and headed back the way we came.  It was like a brand new trail now that there were more people out an about and we were not trying to get away from  someone.  The surrounding mountains  looked even more beautiful ( if that is possible) on the way back and something had shifted in the atmosphere so that Long’s Peak, Mt. Meeker and their neighbors looked extra close, like we could reach out and touch them close.  I LOVE when that happens.

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We ended up taking almost as long to get back because we stopped a lot to take pictures of all we missed on our rush through mile 1.8-3.5.  We finished up the last little bit as it started to thunder, our timing was almost perfect as the rain started up on our way to Oskar Blues Grill & Brew for our little victory dance.

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This is a beautiful hike and one I know we will likely do again soon so we can see Pear lake.  I also think we are going to start dipping our toes into backpacking and this looks like a perfect trail to test our resolve on.   One of the best things was that we were in Rocky Mountain National Park the whole time without all the RMNP crowds or the fee to get to a trail head and it was breathtakingly beautiful!  As always, my favorite pictures after the directions.

Directions:  From Hwy 66 west into Lyons, At the Y intersection in Lyons, turn left on Highway 7 toward Allenspark. About 18.5 miles turn left on Business Route 7/Allenspark. (Don’t take the first Business Route 7 into Ferncliffe.) 0.1 of a mile, turn right on County Road 90 (just before the post office). Travel 1.5 miles to a fork in the road. (There are several, but stay on the main road) At 1.5 miles, take the right fork, travel 0.1 of a mile to the trailhead on your right. There is a sign that says “Allenspark Trailhead.”

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Meyer Ranch Park- Jefferson County Open Space 2nd Official Girls Hike , Conifer CO Hiked 7/28/13

1 Aug

Deer

Owls Perch > Lodgepole Loop > Sunny Aspen Trail > Old Ski Run Loop > Sunny Aspen Trail > Lodgepole Loop > Owls Perch

Starting Elevation: 7900 ft

Highest Elevation:  8770 ft ( total gain was around 900 feet in elevation gain)

Trail Length: 5 Miles

Trail Uses:  Hiker, Biker & Horses

Degree of Difficulty: Easy

Bathrooms:  Yes a vault toilet about half a mile up Owls Perch trail from the parking lot

Pets:  Yes – On leash only

Fees:  None

park Map

I was lucky enough  to hike 2 times this past weekend and the second time was with my favorite Colorado girlfriends.  I am so honored that they trust me enough to take them hiking and I was super impressed that they were such troopers!  We met at 6:30AM on Sunday and it seemed like the minute we got in the car to go to the trailhead, it started raining.  Not too bad, but it still hadn’t stopped when we got to the park which is kinda of an odd occurrence in Colorado, usually it is a quick downpour and then done.

We started up the trail and actually liked the way the rain and clouds enhanced all the colors of this trail.  It was a very easy grade up and the trail was nice and wide most of the way.

Starting out

Starting out the Owls Perch Trail after the Bathroom

The signage is really great on this trail and since our goal was to go through the whole park it was easy to keep moving forward through each trail break.   I had read a lot about this trail before I picked it, what stood out most was that it is all in the pines and there is never really any great “View” to climb too, but I also knew that a couple of my companions were  a little nervous about how much they would be able to handle and some needed a little extra shade to hike comfortably.

Rainy Break

Karin, Lisa & Carrie getting hot in the rain…to peel off layers or not?

I think this is a great starter hike in terms of getting comfortable with a steady climb over very easy terrain.  It is one of those trails that even in the rain there wasn’t any mud, just wet sand with a few rocks and very easy to get through during yucky conditions, although I have read that because of all the shade it takes a while for the snow to melt.  Something to consider if you want to do this in late fall, winter or Early Spring.

Ldgepole to Sunny Aspen

We took Owl’s Perch to Lodgepole to Sunny Aspen – It is very easy to follow

I was surprised my wonderful friends were game to keep hiking in the rain, even as we all started getting pretty hot from exertion but had to stay covered because of the wetness.

Trail COndtions 2

trail conditions as we made our way to Old Ski Run Trail – Beautifully wide with a nice gentle incline

We got to the top Old Ski Hill loop pretty quickly and just as the rain started to let up, so we all stripped a layer because we were crazy hot in our rain gear.

Old ski run loop

Old Ski Run Trail and the halfway point of the hike.

There were a few switchbacks to climb with a very gentle grade and before we knew it we were at the highest part. It was at this point I realized I left all my good cameras at home so I did just a few quick pictures of the trail itself and my beautiful companions with my iPhone.

At the highest point

Carrie, Karin & Lisa at the top part of the loop and our highest point for the day.

Trail on the ki loop

The Old Ski Run Loop leveled off pretty quickly after just a few easy switchbacks

The view

Looking around at the top

Fog coming in

You can’t really tell but we could see all the clouds in between the mountains around us. I still like this picture despite its lack of “view”

We found a rock outcropping to climb to in hopes of seeing more of a view, but there just isn’t one on this trail and while we were checking out what we could see more people heading up joining us so we headed back down after spending just 10 minutes exploring.

Sunny Aspen Trail  to the Lodgepole loop

We went left at the trail break to experience the other side of the park on journey back to the car.

The journey down was much busier then the one up, in fact we had almost the whole hike up to ourselves.  Coming down we crossed paths with lots of other hikers enjoying the short break in the weather we would end up having on Sunday.  It always makes me happy I started early when the trail starts to get crowded.

Owls perch trail break

The last trail break to the Bathroom and then the parking lot

Although I didn’t know it when I picked this hike, it was absolutely the best hike for a rainy day like we had on Sunday.  Now is it the best hike to get your Colorado beauty on, I am not too sure about that.  I wanted to make sure my friends had fun while getting a nice workout in and again this trail is perfect for that.  I am pretty excited to say that all 3 ladies are already asking about our next girls hike so I think they liked it enough to get the hiking bug.

I would like to see this one again maybe in the fall to see how changing environment changes the views and maybe it would make me love it a little more.  It is a beautiful hike, don’t get me wrong I may be getting addicted to all those summit views I had the pleasure of enjoying, so I did leave the trail thinking I never need to do this one again but now a few days later I am not so sure.

The best part of the day was really Carrie, Karin & Lisa ( Poor Julie got sick just that morning and had to cancel at the last-minute).  There is something about having such good friends along and showing them what has been gobbling up all my weekends, then them totally getting it.

Directions:  Take US Highway 285 South from C-470 towards Aspen Park.  Exit the highway at mile marker 239, onto South Turkey Creek Road.  The overflow parking area is on the north side of highway 285; go underneath Highway 285 to access the main parking lot.

Elk Range Trail, Centennial Cone Park- Golden CO Hiked 7/27/13

27 Jul
My Favorite view

My Favorite view

Elk Range Trail> Travois Trail>Juniper Trail>Mayhem Gulch Trail> Travois> Elk Range Trail

Starting Elevation: 7750 ft

Highest Elevation:  7900- ish ft ( Lots of ups and downs gave us a total of 1100 feet in elevation gain)

Trail Length:  The whole park can get you around 12-15 miles of hiking but we hit up 9 miles today with the initial intention of only getting in 7miles.  For the first time ever my fitbit matched the trail map information.

Trail Uses:  Hiker, Biker, Horses share on weekdays  – On the weekends it is hiker only on odd days & Biker only on Even days.

Degree of Difficulty:  Easy to Moderate, mostly because of potential trail length

Bathrooms:  Yes at all 3 parking lots

Pets:  Yes but dogs must be on leash and for the first time ever they all were on leash!

Fees:  None

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1st trail marker

We are finally healed enough from our tattoos that we can get back to the exercise we love most, HIKING.   3 weeks of not hiking has taken its toll on both Aaron and I, I mean yeah I got out last weekend but it wasn’t a super challenging hike and I didn’t have my favorite hiking partner with me.   Surprisingly 3 weeks of inaction really effected our stamina and strength,  we both were a little nervous about what might be challenging so when I was looking for a trail this weekend I went with a low one and maybe a little easier than what we normally do.   I have wanted to check out the Centennial Cone Park for almost a year but at first it seemed too hard and then it seemed too easy so I kept passing it over.  It was perfect after a 3 week unexpected break.  We decided we would try out the newly reopened Elk Range Trail and go a little further depending on how we felt physically.

Start of the trail

Start of the trail

The trail itself starts out pretty easy and since we parked at the north parking lot we initially started out going slowly down on a road like path.  Look at the cool bench they have the beginning so you can just enjoy the rolling hills all around:

Cool Bench

The park itself consists of one big loop with 2 side loops near different entrances of the trail(s).  One trail is open most of the year except during December & January, the Travois Trail and it is almost 8 miles one way to the west parking lot.  The other is the Elk Range Trail that closes periodically, during May and June for Elk calving and again December & January for hunting those same elk…weird.  The other thing is that the park alternates on the weekends between biker only(even Days) and hiker only(Odd Days), which I have to say I really love.

The Gate and notices for when the trail is closed

The Gate and notices for when the trail is closed

The trail moves across a couple of hills and in just a 1.4 miles we were upon the private property cross over.  It is before the private property, that if you want to try to make your way to the summit of the Centennial Cone, do it here because the opposite side of it looks much harder to navigate.  It will have to be a path you, find as there is no trail up to the top.  We chose to just play it easy today and went onward to the West Parking lot.

Before coming to Private Property

Before coming to Private Property

Looking back at the way we came

Looking back at the way we came

We made really good time to the private property and actually to the west parking lot 3 miles into the hike, it took us just an hour.  Remember this is private property so stay on the trail, it is nice that they let everyone go through so lets all make sure they don’t stop that kindness.

Gates to cross over to private property

Gates to cross over to private property

View of the Cone after we crossed over the Private Property

View of the Cone after we crossed over the Private Property

We made such good time to the West Parking lot, we decided to go ahead and try to do the extra 2.5 miles by doing quick loop on this end of the park.  We were also feeling deceptively good.

The view as we got closer to the west parking lot

The view as we got closer to the west parking lot

We went down the Travois Trail to pick up the Juniper Trail to the Mayhem Trail and back around to the Travois returning to the Elk Range trail.  The Travois to Juniper to Mayhem was all single track through a little bit of tree coverage so our first, and only,  bit of relief from the sun today.

Take the Travois Trail down to Juniper

Take the Travois Trail down to Juniper

Go right on to the Juniper Trail

Go right on to the Juniper Trail

Trail conditions on this small loop

Trail conditions on this small loop

Coming up to the Mayhem Gulch Trail, offers another small option to lengthen you hike to hit the Mayhem Gulch parking lot.  At this point we started to realize we may have over committed ourselves and so we just took the left and headed back to the Travois trail.

Go left and up to get back

Go left and up to get back

last trail switch Fav 1

Strangely, the trail turned into quite the struggle for me at this point.  My feet apparently aren’t allowed to take any breaks, I am awash with blisters…again!  In the end this trail was perfect to help us gauge what we can do next week and how much our break hurt us.  It changed my plans for the next month which means longer until we climb our next 14er, we are both a little bummed but determined to get back up there as soon as we can.

A couple of things to note, this trail is almost entirely exposed so in the summer go early or late and slather on the sun block.   We were thrilled at how many flowers were out on the trail, this time last year it was so dry and hot, all the flowers had burned out this low.  We were again walking through a parade of flowers the whole time and they were everywhere!!!  I am not sure how long this will last so if you think you want to check out this trail go soon to enjoy all the flowers even the Rangers were surprised at the abundance of flowers.  Finally our choice of starting at the North parking lot meant that we went mostly downhill in the beginning and so the return trip was all up hill.

After the directions will some our favorite pictures from the hike.

Directions:

North Access: 4306 Camino Perdido, Golden External Link Icon. Horse trailer parking permitted.

West Access: 2234 Douglas Mountain Road, Golden External Link Icon. No horse trailers allowed.

Mayhem Gulch Trailhead, Clear Creek Canyon Road: From Golden, the trailhead is between mile marker 262.5 and 262, 9.5 miles from the intersection of US 6 and State Highway 93, on the north side of the road.

Flowers 1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Flower 3 Flower 4 Fav 2 Fav 4 Fav 3

 

Weigh in day 7/26/13 +.6, 56.8lbs down 33.2 left to go

26 Jul

This small gain is not a surprise to me and I am not overly concerned about it.  With my inability to exercise for almost two weeks and break from counting calories last week, I am surprised it wasn’t more.  I will take this little gift and turn it into a challenge for my weigh in next week.

I do have to say I am pretty excited about my hikes this weekend, neither is very long and there isn’t a ton of elevation gain but they are both brand new hikes with some of my favorite people in the world!  I get Aaron back tomorrow and on Sunday all my favorite Colorado girlfriends!  It will be a perfect weekend!

The other thing I am getting really excited about is I am just 13 lbs away from my wedding weight!!!  Below is one of my favorite pictures from that day….we eloped…in Vegas…no one knew until we got back….And yes I did get a full-fledged wedding dress and made Aaron wear a tux even though we eloped totally in secret.  I mean look how handsome he is in a tux I was not passing up that opportunity!

July 2004

July 2004