Tag Archives: Outdoors

The Incline, Manitou Springs CO, Hiked on Easter – 4/5/2015

20 May

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Starting Elevation:  6530 Ft

Highest Elevation: 8550 Ft

Trail Length: We did the Standard loop so 3.7 miles

Trail Uses: Hiking only up the incline

Degree of Difficulty: Strenuous

Bathroom: Yes in the parking lot

Pets:  Supposed to be no dogs but there were lots and off leash too and 2 almost knocked me down no owner in sight.

Fees: Yes – $5 when we went last April but I suspect it may go up or already has.

It has been over a year since I posted last and I actually started writing this post way back when we did the hike. I had kinda forgot about the blog except to look up hikes or show friends hikes I thought they might like, but I got my renewal notice a few weeks ago and today I realized I need new motivation to get back on the healthy bandwagon.

A lot has happened over the last year but through it all we never stopped hiking.  Last Fall I had a bad hip injury that kept me on flat short hikes for about 4 months but I started taking photography classes to help keep up my spirits. I have been very slowly working on getting back to climbing since the beginning of the year and had one big set back that was very depressing.

The super bummer, while injured I gained back a lot of weight. So I am going to try this again.  I am going to Germany next week and then when I get back I am full on back to hiking to healthy I have at least a dozen new hikes to write up and I am back at 60 pounds I have to lose to get to my goal.  I am not sure how I will continue with the format, if I will do a weigh in separate from hikes or combine them.  I see wordpress has changed a lot since I was on last so I have lots of new learning to do.

I will also try to show off some of my new photography skills and I am super excited about that.  Another motivation to get back to writing.  Thanks to all of you who have kept checking out the blog while I have been gone, I hope to get reacquainted with the blogging world.

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Now on to this particular hike.

On Easter 2015, since I couldn’t be home with my family I was lucky enough to go on a hiking date with my hiking superheros, Wendy and Didier.

They patiently took us too the Manitou Incline which is known all over the place as straight up torture.  In the first mile you climb straight up 2000 vertical feet. It is used regularly by the Olympic athletes that train very close by and lots of fitness enthusiasts.

We started just before sunrise and thought that since it was Easter it might be less crowded, but in fact the it was lit up with lots of headlamps ahead of us.

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It is essentially a giant staircase that we were climbing with a couple hundred other people and I know for a fact that it was a light crowd that day. There is a bail out about half way up, and it gets evermore steep after that.  Also the steps aren’t at even height so I often found myself using both my hands and feet to climb it like a ladder at its steepest point.
Once you get to the top, it is amazing views of Colorado Springs and beyond and Sunrise was gorgeous.

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Looking down.jpg

Once at the top and you have finished celebrating with lots of selfies, take the Barr trail down.  Do not go back down the incline it is so steep and people fall and get hurt all the time.  The Barr trail was updated as well and it an easy decent back to the parking lot. As I recall it is about 3 miles down.

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All in all, I feel like you have to do the Incline at least once in your life.  The number of people doing it is so crazy that I honestly never want to do it again.  It is great exercise for sure and a great way to get into climbing shape, maybe just go during the week when there are less people.  I would also go as early as possible and start that one hour before sunrise as it is exposed and can be very warm.

A few more pictures will follow the directions.

Directions( copied from the website http://www.manitouincline.net ::

The easiest way to reach the trailhead is to take highway 24 West to the last Exit for Manitou Springs on Serpentine Drive. This is also the stoplight for the Cave of the Winds. Turn left (away from Cave of the Winds)onto Serpintine Drive which will descend quickly and end at Manitou Avenue. Veer left onto Manitou Aveneue and follow it to a roundabout(rotary). Exit the roundabout on Ruxton Ave heading southwest towards the Cog Railway. The trailhead is located just west of the Iron Springs Theater. Parking is usually difficult to find. Trying to find a close spot usually just results in a lot of wasted time. Just think of your walk to the trailhead as your warm up.

The standard route no longer begins in the Barr Trail parking lot. This parking lot is to be used for the Barr trail alone, access to the trail is now to be from near the old Manitoul Incline Base Station and incline hikers should park on Ruxton Ave.

Do NOT park in the parking spots for the Cog Railway. They will tow you. If you really want a close spot you can pay to park in the Iron Springs Theater parking spots. Last I saw it was $5 to park there.

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Hanging Lake Trail, Glenwood Canyon CO 9/27/13

15 Oct

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Hanging Lake Trail

Starting Elevation: 6387 Ft

Highest Elevation: 7323 Ft

Trail Length:  Officially 2.4 round trip but we probably hit 3.5 ish with all the walking around we did.

Trail Uses: Hiker only

Degree of Difficulty:  Officially Strenuous, but it isn’t long, just steep so I will say moderate to difficult. The whole trip took 3.5 hours including gawking time at the top.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking lot

Pets: No and like super no- if they go in the lake they could ruin the nature of the beauty….

Fees:  None

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Hanging Lake is one of those things that everyone in Colorado tells  you that you have to go and see it in person.  Even non hikers have been there, that also means it has insanely heavy traffic all the time and all year round.  I had hoped to hit it earlier in the summer so that when my sister came into town I would be able to prepare her better but we celebrated a little too hard after our summiting our first 14er, Quandary instead it was a cancel and recover decision.

This was the perfect hike to experience for the first time with Mary and it was a nice small step up in elevation to help get to some higher hikes in the following days.  Unfortunately the weather was not on our side we had initially planned a super early departure from where we were staying in Breckenridge but then I backed off because the forecast changed from rain/snow for the afternoon to the morning…

It was full on blizzard conditions as we drove over Vail pass but turned to super heavy rain as we continued down to Glenwood Canyon.  When we pulled into the shockingly EMPTY parking lot, it was just a nice drizzle and there was just one other group of hikers getting into rain gear.  We got out and hit the bathroom while deciding what to do, we were there already and it wasn’t pouring anymore so we decided to go for it.

Trail sign Start of the trail

Initially the trail is paved along the Colorado River, and then you get to the trail part pretty quickly and easily.   It is 1.2 miles, pretty much straight up with lots of rocks and 5-6 bridge crossings over Dead Horse Gulch.  At the end it is so steep that there is a railing to hold onto as you climb up the final rocks to the lake.  Which is stunning. I mean seriously.

It starts out easy-ish

It starts out easy-ish

Then it starts to get rockier

Then it starts to get rockier

There are 5-6 bridges  to cross and they are numbered.

There are 5-6 bridges to cross and they are numbered.

Every Quarter of a mile there is a post tracking how far you have gone.

Every Quarter of a mile there is a post tracking how far you have gone.

This rock path was so cool we had to get pictures.

This rock path was so cool we had to get pictures.

Perspective of the rock path

Perspective of the rock path

When we got to the final stretch, the railing popped up and the views of the canyon were amazing even in the rain.  Mary is “uncomfortable” with heights so when I took this picture she kept saying “careful!”  It was cute and there was a very sturdy railing behind us, so unnecessary.

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Just Over the top of this climb

Apparently this is some type of geological anomaly where the travertine deposit  under the lake effects the water as seeps through the limestone all around.  It creates the most lovely shade of aquamarine regardless of weather…. case in point, it was super cloudy when we were there and the lake almost glowed blue-green through all the gray.  It is also incredibly clear and you can see the trout swimming all over the place.  In order for this treasure to stay this way, fishing and swimming is strictly prohibited because our body oils would change the composition of the lake and its beauty would evaporate.  There is a very nice platform almost all the way around for viewing and signs explaining the rare occurrence that creates this beautiful lake.  Plus signs all over saying don’t go in the lake or on the dead tree that slices through the middle,  unfortunately people ignore it all the time and if you google it online you eventually see someone walking out on to the log and risking the future of this lake.  Every time I see those pictures it hurts my heart, more so now that I have seen it myself.

The Lake Log sign Log

This place is super crowded all the time, except the day we were there.  It was actually perfect, we had the way up mostly to ourselves through some drizzle and when we got to the top the rain stopped long enough for us to get some great pictures and then it started up again as we headed down.  It also started to get more crowded but nothing like what I have read, it was actually pretty magical.

It was also interesting to watch the differently prepared groups of people hiking up….people in shorts and tank tops – it was maybe 45 degrees out and raining.  The 2 motorcyclist carrying their helmets up totally not dressed for hiking, pretty sure they turned around after we told them they weren’t quite halfway up…. I must learn to lie better in those situations.  People climbing up in keds, it is the short distance and that tricks so many.  It is still a tough hike so make sure you prepare like you would for any alpine hike.  After the directions are a few more pictures.  I cannot wait to bring more people to Hanging Lake, we loved it!

Directions:  Hanging lake is in Glenwood Canyon , just before you reach Glenwood Springs.  You can only get to it from the East bound side of I70 and if the parking lot is full, then you need to drive around and keep checking for a spot or come back another day.  Seriously no parking spot no hike. This also means if you are coming from the East, you have to drive 5 miles past and then double back to get to the trailhead.  Travel 22 miles west of Eagle on I-70 to the Grizzly Creek exit in Glenwood Canyon.After exiting, get back on the highway going eastbound to the Hanging Lake exit.The trail begins 1/4 mile east of the rest area on the left just before the bridge.

A shelter along the way and lots of benches help with the steep climb

A shelter along the way and lots of benches help with the steep climb

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Fish

Fish

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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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Waterton Canyon – We chose safety this weekend- Hiked 9/14/13

16 Sep
The Start of Waterton Canyon

The Start of Waterton Canyon

I don’t know if you have heard about it or not, but there has been some flooding in our beautiful state.  When the rain started on Tuesday/Wednesday, all I thought was “yay!  It will finally cool off around here.”  Then Wednesday night when I was coming home from work, I started thinking, hmmm this has been pretty intense for quite some time.

Thursday morning was crazy, I woke up late for work and while getting ready I learned about all that was destroyed during the night .  It is devastating!  So many of the hikes I have written about here are now inaccessible and who knows how long it will be before they can be reached again and then if they will be in any condition to hike….. maybe for years.

The Green Space at the end of my block- normally there is no water visible ....EVER

The Green Space at the end of my block normally there is no water visible ….EVER

As I headed to work that morning I was actually a little scared at how much rain was coming down, how much water was sitting on the streets and how much was raging through drainage ditches along streets and neighborhoods.  I live and work in one of the areas hard hit, but was fortunately spared any real damage or flooding near my home.  My heart is aching for all those that have lost everything, homes and neighborhoods we would admire as we drove to our next trailhead are now completely gone.  It is staggering.

Needless to say, I was also thinking about my original planned hike this weekend.  It seems like the town it is closest too has not been destroyed or at least did not see enough of the flooding to be mentioned, but I know there are other towns not being mentioned that have been completely leveled.  I was also hopeful that the destruction would not carry over into the weekend and then that kept getting extended and extended. In fact, it is Monday and most of the front range still has flood and flash flood warnings in effect.

Friday night we talked about what was smart to do and what we wanted to do, even the smart option had me questioning if we should even walk outside our door Saturday morning.

We were up bright and early Saturday morning and made our way over to Waterton Canyon( hike details here), I had a friend who lives close tell me that it had been pretty quiet in her neighborhood and that she didn’t think there were any flooding problems over there.  I had decided that we would go there and if the trail looked bad we would turn around and head back home.

The parking lot was mostly empty, which is very unusual at 7AM on a Saturday morning but it wasn’t closed.  As we were walking along the path, at an excellent pace I might add,  we saw some debris piles from obvious issues earlier in the week but otherwise it was in great condition.  Before we knew it, we had gone past our furthest point previously hiked  and so we decided to try for the Strontia Springs.

What I once thought was the big dam

What I once thought was the big dam

Reflection

Reflection

This is when I learned that everything I knew about this hike was a little wrong…. I guess I thought the trail actually went to the springs and that it ended in this picturesque setting that was super beautiful with the Colorado trail a beacon of opportunity  taunting you near the springs.  What we found was that the Big Dam everyone asks if you made it to,  is in fact at the end and is crazy big….like Hoover Dam big!  Then it goes into some residential housing and up a little ways is the Colorado trial.

Big dam 2

Seriously.Huge.Dam.

I honestly almost missed the super huge dam because I was looking at the trial map just before we turned around, trying to not be nosy (totally not succeeding) while 2 bikers were talking about how crazy the amount of water coming out of the Dam was.  I was like, huh?  Walked over to the construction area and there is was… ENORMOUS!  I mean how did I not know it was that big and here of all places!  One of the bikers pulled up next to me and said (clearly he didn’t notice me ease dropping a few minutes earlier) that normally the water is only flowing out towards the bottom in a small jet no big deal, he had never actually seen the top release ducts used like they were on Saturday.

Big Dam

The sign at the end

The sign at the end

In the end we did the entire 12.6 miles up and back at Waterton canyon and even jogged a couple of miles down so we finished in just 3.5 h ours.  The day was insanely beautiful, if a little humid and we had it mostly to ourselves on a perfectly normal-seeming day.  I was so glad we chanced it and headed out when we could.

The view on the way back down

The view on the way back down

We got home just in time for the next wave of insanity to begin, which started out with an awesome hail storm that flooded our backyard in just 3 minutes as we watched with bated breath…. praying “please don’t go over the edge into the window well”….. We totally lucked out!

Hail starting at my house

Hail starting at my house

Find out how to help those affected by floods in Colorado, including ways to donate, what to donate and locations of donation centers, through our local NBC affiliate : www.9news.com

Weigh in day 9/13/13 -.2 lbs, 58.8lbs down 31.2 lbs to go

14 Sep

I am once again thrilled with this weigh in….not because I lost a stellar amount of weight but because I got my monthly visitor on Thursday which means that despite the typical weight gain( usually 2+lbs) with my monthly visitor I still managed to drop a very little bit of weight.   A great accomplishment for me.

I was so torn this week, I mean seriously it was super tough.  Not only were we in one of the hard hit areas for flash flooding with biblical amounts of rain( weather persons assessment not mine), a lot of our favorite hikes and the routes to get to them were destroyed…..  not to mention all the people lucky enough to live in those areas struggling to make it out of them.

I am glad to say we are safe and have lost nothing but I am so sad for what everyone in Boulder, the Northwest Front range and all those beautiful mountain towns for what they lost.  Every time I saw a favorite spot destroyed I cried more.

I am lucky enough to live here in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, but it is also one of the most fragile parts and it is the front line of global warming.

I better get my butt in gear and start seeing as much as I can!

 

 

 

James Peak (2nd time’s the charm!) Via St. Mary’s Glacier, Alice CO hiked 8/31/13

4 Sep

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James Peak has been haunting me since we had to turn around with the summit in view because of lightning.  I had figured doing a 14er over a long weekend would make more sense but I struggled a little bit at 12,550Ft last weekend so I decided to put it off one more week and worked this repeater/failed summit attempt into our schedule.

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Here are the details of the first time we hiked James Peak.

We got a very early start ( 6:30AM) and so pretty much had the trail to ourselves.  It was a perfect morning, cool with a slight breeze to keep me from sweating too much and almost no clouds in the sky.  I just missed sunrise itself but the sky was coming alive with sun while it set the mountains on fire.  It was awesome.

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The shocking part for me was seeing how dramatically different the Glacier itself was, like a third of the size it was just 2 months ago.  We ended up walking up most of the way on the glacier rubble  and only had to do a short stretch on the remaining snow.  Here are a couple of  pictures

2 months ago the snow came up to where I was standing taking this picture

2 months ago the snow came up to where I was standing taking this picture

No more glacier here just rubble and some running water from what is melting above

No more glacier here just rubble and some running water from what is melting above

The other amazing part of nature here was how vast all the flowers were throughout the glacier rubble given that 2 months ago it was all under snow and now these were so robust!

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This bush was covered in butterflies and bumble bees....also growing in Glacier Rubble

This bush was covered in butterflies and bumble bees….also growing in Glacier Rubble

The glacier wasn’t the only part of the hike alive with flowers, the flats had these beauties everywhere and they stretched up to the summit climb.

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I will admit I was not feeling so hot almost the whole climb up the glacier and once on the flats, I was pretty certain I was going to be sick.  I slowed it down and tried to drink as much water as I could and as we moved along the flats I started to feel better, until we hit the summit climb.  I can tell how bad I was feeling in that I completely flaked taking any pictures of it but we did keep going and little by little I started to get it under control.

We made it past our turnaround point from the last attempt with the skies looking beautiful and the wind stopping almost completely.   There are some steep parts through the switchbacks up but really it wasn’t too bad and before we knew it we had crested the ridge to the summit.

me on the summit

me on the summit

The Summit views looking North

The Summit views looking North

Summit facing East and a little North

Summit facing East and a little North

At the top we had it mostly to ourselves and one other couple, who were a wealth of hiking information.  Before I knew it, we had been talking to them for almost an hour!  We quickly got some pictures and then headed down as the summit started to get more crowded.  On the way down we saw this gentleman come up with his Lamas or alpacas, who were clearly very well-loved, I think he was a continental divide trail through hiker.  How cool to through hike with these companions!

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This hike was amazing, getting to the summit and see for miles was the best part of my week!  I also had great views of Grays and Torrey’s, which I think will be our next 14ers, we had amazing views of them throughout the hike.

The flats Grays n torreys

As always, I hope if you find yourself out this way, you can check out the hike it is worth every step up!  Now for some of our favorite pictures of the day.

to show how quickly things change weather wise...one the way to James peak beautiful blue skys

to show how quickly things change weather wise…on the way to James peak beautiful blue sky

Looking back on our way down from the same view point

Looking back on our way down from the same view-point we got to the car as it started to down pour

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Weigh in Day 8/30/13 – No Change

31 Aug

I guess after losing that weight I gained back, I can’t be too surprised by not losing anything this week.  I am also not all that concerned, it was a crazy week at work and I am just glad I didn’t eat my stress which I normally would do.  I kept to working out on my normal schedule and just dealt with it all.   That in itself is a huge win and so I continue on.

More importantly we had a great hike today and with the long weekend I am planning a second hike…likely a repeater but there is something about being able to get out twice in the course of a weekend that always makes me feel good.   We also met the nicest people at the summit, best part about starting early the huge hike lovers are always out and this couple had so many good suggestions!  I was a huge dork putting everything they suggested into my iPhone for our future.  Honestly, they have been doing what we are doing for almost 15 years and I completely decided I want to be where they are in 5 years.  It was just exciting talking to them and learning about all they have done and how they have done it!  Great people to meet as things start to cool off.

I am also starting to realize that I may not meet my goal of losing 90 lbs by my 40th birthday, at least not at the rate I am going.  I know I could do a more drastic approach but the more I think about it, the  more I realize I am ok with progress this far.  It took me 10 years to put this weight on and while I would love to be a size 12 tomorrow, I am actually fine with how I am losing the weight.  Right now the most important part is that this has really started feeling like a lifestyle and not a diet.  I feel like I could live this way…..

Can’t wait to get all the hike details together to share with you all…. it was such a great day!!!!

Happy 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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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

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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.

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Healing Hike – Deer Creek Canyon, my home away from home 7/20/13

23 Jul
Best view of the day

Best view of the day

I have learned so many big lessons these past 2 weeks, most I don’t ever want to talk about.  The big word I want to focus on is I LEARNED a lot last week…. outside of those things I never want to talk about here, I did learn that while Aaron and I can sit through 3-5 hours of tattooing that doesn’t mean we should.  Healing has been difficult to say the least, and I think this is the first time we have experienced the challenge of healing for a type 1 diabetic.

I had hoped I could start exercising sooner, but so slowly my leg felt better and I could finally start doing walks again last Wednesday almost 2 full weeks after getting my tattoo.  It was strange feeling stuck and not liking it.  I couldn’t sleep well, I stopped tracking calories and then I had a lot of “OTHER” issues to contemplate.  It was a super tough-struggle-to-deal-with-it week….in the end I decided I needed a week break from my new lifestyle.  I get that I shouldn’t ever do this nor should I ever find reasons to make a break OK but last week I needed it and I am washing away my guilt right or wrong.

As I started walking and stretching for the first time in almost 2 weeks it felt sooooo GOOD.  Aaron was not at the same healing place I was but I needed to move forward to get out of my head and house.  We talked about what I could do and decided that Deer Creek Canyon(Hike Details Here) was my best option for a quick centering hike to get me back on track but not too tough for my almost healed tattoo.

I was resigned to hiking alone which is not ideal, but I needed centering so I was ready to find my purpose stick in my head phones and sweat it out.

Strangely  coincidental, I have a good solid group of people I walk with at work every week day and each week I talk about what our hiking plans are then how the hike went.  My walking buddy and friend Lisa asked about my plans and when I said what I was doing she asked if she could join me.  It was perfect!  There is nothing like converting someone  to love hiking to help me get back on track.

Lisa was a super trooper, she is incredibly active but not hiking a couple of mountains active.  Nothing like jumping in and taking on 6+miles with 1300 feet of elevation for her first hike with me.  I was so impressed, she kept a great attitude kept moving and celebrated a little when we started heading down.

The hike and Lisa were exactly what I needed to get me focused on where I want to go.  She loved the hike and helped me remember all that I had accomplished over the past 17 months.  It was great and motivating and lifted me back up to where I needed to be.

This Monday I was back on the plan, exercising counting calories and picking our next hikes. We will be doing an easier hike this weekend because of our unplanned break and Aaron’s still healing tattoo but  its a new one that I have wanted to do for a while.  I will also be doing my monthly girls hike, which is another new one and I got Lisa to sign up for another hike with me…pretty excited about that!