Tag Archives: Weight loss

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

20 May

At the Top.jpg

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.

incline sunrise.jpg

 

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.

getting a sunrise picture.jpg

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.

Past the bail out.jpg

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.

Barr trail.jpg

Barr trail view.JPG

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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Beginning again – Weigh in Day +9LBS ( 50lbs down 40 Lbs left to go)

9 Aug

So this is the first time I have really weighed in – in months. I have to say I was surprised it wasn’t more, which makes it about a pound a month.

Fat and in pain

Fat and in pain

I can tell though that I have lost a lot of the climbing muscles in my legs which makes me think it may just be 9LBs on the scale but the damage is worse because of the muscle loss.

I would like to say this was a better week for me health wise but it was actually worse.  I had a crazy stressful week at work, worked long hours and squeezed in a workout at least once a day, sometimes twice but no weights.  I didn’t track my food like I wanted to and I am sure I went over my allotted calories every day.

Plus I drank alcohol almost every night, just one drink a night but still I normally don’t drink during the week. But post hike it is always a celebration.

Oh well, I have to start somewhere….

My new goal will be to lose 40 lbs by next July 4th.

The hike I did today was a repeater but it is way out my ability right now.  I am thrilled I made it all the way… and I have summit fever again….I love Colorado.

On Twins sisters

On Twins sisters

There is so much to see just here and I haven’t even started to think about all those other states and countries I have hiking envy over…I am looking at you Rob P My favorite Uk Backpacker!  SO that means I need to get over myself and move forward…..slowly this is me getting over myself….

Get out there and hike, life is way too short!

 

Chief Mountain (11,700) & Squaw Mountain ( 11,398) Evergreen CO Hiked 7/6/14

8 Aug

1

Starting Elevation: 11,000Ft

Highest Elevation: 11,700 Ft ( total elevation gain was around 1800 ft.)

Trail Length: Officially I thought 4.8 miles…8.7 miles later I am pretty sure the book was wrong

Trial uses:  Hiker, biker & Horses some portions are a 4×4 road

Degree of difficulty:  Moderate

Bathrooms:  None

Pets: Yes – Although on the path to Squaw Mtn there is a gun range of sorts so keep them on leash.

view 2

I won’t lie, I originally picked this as an easy hike to do on a 2 hike weekend.   My Colorado Mountain Club book says it is just 4.8 miles round trip, with a total of 1800 feet of elevation gain.  But not only was the round trip distance wrong, so was where the trail was supposed to be.  When I got back to the car I had to look at the book to make sure it said round trip.   It didn’t help that we picked up the trail at the wrong place too.  We saw a trail like entrance across from the wrong pull off and just went with it after driving back and forth a couple of times on 103.   It turned out this is the fire access road to both mountains any way but it did add 2 miles to our trip, which means had we found the original entrance it still would have been almost 7 miles around trip.  I am not sure what has changed in the last 4-5 years but I am pretty sure Squaw mountain didn’t move in that amount of time.

Fire Access Road we started out on

Fire Access Road we started out on

The day itself couldn’t have been more perfect and honestly we didn’t mind the extra mileage as it kinda took us away from the crowds.  FYI the Chief Mountain portion is high volume and for very good reason.  It is a bit of climb in just a mile and half( if you hit the correct starting point) since we started a bit higher and further away, our climb was spaced out a bit.  But for a 3 mile hike( 4.5 miles if you start where we did), you cannot beat the views.

The views from the fire road

The views from the fire road

Once you get to the actual Chief Mtn trail, the trail itself is steep but not too steep and you have some coverage in the trees but that is mostly in the first half of mile.  Then it starts to open up. For us, the first mile was on an old fire road so while we were lucky with shade on the way up because of how early we started, then the impending storm on our way back we didn’t have to deal with too much sun that first mile either.

Ahh Here is Chief mountain Trail.

Ahh Here is Chief mountain Trail.

After that though it was all in the sun to the summit.   And oh my the views!

The right way to hike up Easy to follow Above the tree line

Getting to the summit was a little but of a scramble but nothing terrible, it was 360 degree views and as I was looking over at Squaw I was really starting to doubt it what just 1.5 miles to that summit.

The view of Squaw from Chief

The view of Squaw from Chief

Me climbing down the Scraamble

Me climbing down the Scramble

One view from Chief looking towards Evans

One view from Chief looking towards Evans

We got down Chief fast even with all the people coming up and us giving way.  Once we got back to the fire road, we went to our right to get to Squaw.

Back on the fire road to Squaw

Back on the fire road to Squaw

Squaw Mt. Access Road

Squaw Mt. Access Road

The fire road dead ends right into the Squaw mountain access road which is 4×4 in some places.  It was kinda not exciting AND there was some type of gun range not too far up where 5 or 6 people were having lots of target practice.  For this reason alone I probably couldn’t recommend you ever bring dogs up this path unless they are trained to be ok around gun fire.

Make shift gun range empty on our way down

Make shift gun range empty on our way down

Just up and around the corner from it, there is a gate closing off the road from motor vehicles.  There is also a small parking area if you have rented out the old fire watch tower for the night.  I have to tell you as a storm was starting to role in, I was thinking how cool it would be to rent out that Fire tower for a night or 2 and enjoy some rocky mountain weather.

Some details on renting the old Fire tower

Some details on renting the old Fire tower

The road closes to motorized vehicles from here

The road closes to motorized vehicles from here

Eventually we got to the top of Squaw and were decidedly underwhelmed… not by the views but by all the industrial towers we went up and around them to see the views but saw the weather coming in and so headed back down. It took us 3.5 miles from the top of Chief to get to the top of Squaw.

Fire Watch tower We should have turned around here

Fire Watch tower We should have turned around here

Mostly what is on the top of Squaw

Mostly what is on the top of Squaw

Here comes the weather

Here comes the weather

I will tell you that I will only ever do Chief again and have done it once since we did this back in July.  I will now always take visitors here because seriously the views are amazing.  I never need to see Squaw again unless I decide to rent out the old fire tower.  We didn’t bring our good camera with us because we didn’t have high expectations but once we got up to the top of Chief I was so sad that we didn’t!  After the directions will be a few of the good pictures we managed to capture before weather moved in.

Directions:  From Denver Take I70 west to Evergreen Parkway (Exit 252), go about 3 miles to Squaw Pass Road ( 103). Take it up approximately 12 miles.  When you pass Echo Mountain Ski area look for the next pull off the real trailhead is right there.

View from Squaw

View Chief Mtn from Squaw Mtn

View Chief Mtn from Squaw Mtn It the one on the right

View form Squaw3 View from Squaw 2 Me on Squaw 2 View from Squaw

 

Burning Bear Trail #601, Grant Co Snowshoed 4/19/14

25 Apr
Best View

Best View

Starting Elevation:  9627Ft

Highest Elevation:   10,708Ft is the highest we made it but the highest part of the hike is supposed to be 10,740 ft

Trail Length:  The full length of the trail round trip is a 13 miles to Hall Valley  Trailhead we made it just under 8 miles round trip almost to the ridge top which was supposed to be 7.4 miles round trip, we didn’t make it to the Ridge line.  It took us 5 hours.

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker, Snowshoe, cross-country skiing, Horses

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate to Difficult

Fees:  None

Bathrooms:  Not near this trailhead but we passed a few outhouses on the Road up….they looked scary going outside would be better.

Pets:  Yes on leash

Beginning views

Beginning views

Last Fall I found this random website that gave a whole bunch of trail names with no information on where, length, difficulty or elevation.  I wrote down a couple of pages of them, found a few details and last week was the first time I actually studied them.  I wanted something that got us over 10,000Ft and in studying them I found this particular trail.  It looked perfect for our goals, lots of mileage, possible 2000-ish feet total elevation gain, getting above 10k and possible awesome views.  The other great thing about the trail is every report I found, and there weren’t many of them, said there was low to no traffic.  The only thing I wasn’t sure of was if we would need snowshoes or not… the week had been really warm and sunny so I figured if we needed them, it would only be to get over the ridge to get to that last 1.5 miles to the turnaround point.  When the news was reporting from Vail on Friday, there was no snow at the lower elevations which was about where we would be starting so I figured if we carried the snowshoes it would at least help me with my strength building for backpacking.

Saturday we got up early and started our almost 2 hour drive to the trailhead, the weather called for possible light rain in the AM, with thunderstorms starting around 2PM so I wanted to make sure we had enough time to finish before those possible thunderstorms started.  You have to park .2 miles past the trailhead.

Parking lot

Parking lot

Walking back to the trailhead

Walking back to the trailhead

The trail is immediately off of Park County Road 62 :

thru the gate Trail sign

It starts out really well-defined and marked, we took just 5-10 minutes to get to this bridge.

Trail in teh beginning cross the bridgecrossing geneva creek

The creek was beautiful and at first the snow was not a big deal, we went along our way for about 20 minutes before the first posthole.   Through the trees the postholing was minimal and the views were lovely.

DSCN1398 DSCN1400creek n meadow

We saw our first trail marker before the meadow of our downfall

This marker is how you follow the trail

This marker is how you follow the trail

We  got to this meadow with the next trail sign and the postholing was epic, the last one went above my knee and I hoped Aaron wouldn’t break through when he came over to help me out.  Then we shuffled to the most stable spot we could find and put on our snowshoes, just a little more than half mile from the trailhead.

meadow  of snowshoe

It was much easier going with our snowshoes one, the trail skirts this huge meadow for around a mile when there is supposed to be a trail break  left takes you to the ridge( Our destination) or further.  While right takes you around the meadow back to Guanella Pass Road (Park CO 62).   We noticed lots of old tracks heading left 5-6 times looking for the right path.  You really need to follow the meadow for about a mile, maybe a little more with the trees on the left.  Once the trail reached the trees we went left, saw a marker and knew we were on the correct path.  We were also now thoroughly in the trees with a nice slow climb.

thru the trees

It was in this section we passed this tepee, it made me wonder under what circumstances it was built because it had to take some time to gather all those trees.

tree tepee

From here we wove over and around the creek.

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Along the Creek

Along the Creek

The snow was pretty deep the whole way and just before we hit the second meadow, it disappeared for maybe a tenth of a mile.

Oh that is what the trail looks like

Oh so that is what the trail looks like

Second Meadow before the  Sun came out

Second Meadow before the Sun came out

The cabin ruins aren’t too far past this second meadow, about half a mile.  Most people turn around here from what I read and from the tracks we saw, no one went past in a long time.

cabin ruins OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The trail goes past the cabin and then climbs steeply up switch backs to the ridge.  The sun also came out strong and bright, which was lovely but super snow destabilizing warm.  We decided it was too pretty not to continue on and we felt good, like another mile or so wouldn’t be so bad.

A lot of the blueish gray markers had fallen down at this point so we used the notches to keep us on track

A lot of the plastic markers had fallen down at this point so we used the notches to keep us on track

This last mile was a struggle, in hind sight I should have called it much sooner, my legs become jello so much sooner in snowshoes and while we knew we had to be right at the ridge at 3.75 miles, the trail just continued to climb up as far as we could see.  We had two issues to consider… first we knew that while skies were blue, the clouds hanging out were definitely of the thunder storm variety and with the conditions of my legs at this point meant a fast escape if the weather changed wouldn’t be likely.

Just us with 4ish feet of snow at the turnaround point

Just us with 4ish feet of snow at the turnaround point

We turned around and headed back down, I fell 3 times in awesome fashion.  Then we got to that second meadow closest to the cabin and the effects of the sun made me bummed I didn’t turn us around sooner…. ever posthole with snowshoes on…. EXHAUSTING.  Our quick return was suddenly stalled and after an hour of it I was moving very slow when we finally got to that first meadows the views were spectacular.

Looking back from where we came from OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I will tell you this last half  mile or so was painfully long, but I wouldn’t stop moving because we could see the storm coming.  As we finally got back to the bridge and took off our snow shoes, the first drops started  falling which turned into an immediate downpour.  We tried to run but our legs were just toast, fortunately we made it to the car before the sleet started.  Almost perfect timing and despite our exhaustion we were also exhilarated, so worth every bruise I woke up with on Sunday.

pouring

I loved this trail, the views, the forest climb, the meadows, the creek and everything else.  I cannot wait to get back when there is no snow and make it to the ridge, hopefully further.

I hope whatever your weekend has in store for you, it involves getting out there and hiking!!!

Directions:  From Bailey  drive west on 285 for 10.8 miles to Grant.  Turn right on Park county Road #62( Sometimes called the Guanella pass road) and drive 4.9 miles to the trailhead at a turn in the road.  There is a sign and a gate on the left (North) side of the road at the trailhead.  Parking is available .2 miles further at the parking for Abyss Lake Trail.

Mason Creek at Staunton State Park, Conifer CO hiked 4/12/14

17 Apr

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Mason Creek Trail> Border Line Trail> Staunton Ranch Trail

Starting Elevation:  8197 ft

Highest Elevation:  9450 Ft ( Almost 1600 ft total with a little up and down from Mason Creek to Border Line)

Trail Length: 10.6 miles officially and my fitbit was pretty close with right around 11 miles

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker, Horses

Degree Of Difficulty:  Moderate to Difficult: mostly due to length.

Fees: $7 a day or $70 for the annual Colorado State Park Pas… we have the pass

Bathrooms:  Yes at every parking lot

Pets:  Yes- dogs allowed as long as they are on leash.

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We have been super enjoying all the snowshoeing opportunities these past 2 months but to be honest I feel like we are totally out of shape. None of our snowshoes were very long or had a ton of elevation gain, we stayed up highish but didn’t climb a ton.  I was starting to worry that all that stamina we had fought hard for might be gone.  That’s why we went back to Staunton State Park on Saturday.  This park is just beautiful, the trail options make it easy to challenge yourself or quickly escape if you bit off more than you can chew.

Picking our Route

Picking our Route

The other driver to get in as many miles as possible on Saturday, was the spring snow storm expected for Sunday.  The mountains were predicted to get a foot or more of snow and we here on the Front Range 3-6 inches so we had to make a bang on Saturday.   I am pretty sure everyone in Colorado had the same goal for Saturday as Spring fever has officially set in!

We started out on Mason Creek Trail and at first it was straight forward so we cruised through the 2.2 miles without blinking an eye.  It was wild flying  through this part when the last time we attempted it in the snow it took us forever!  I am torn which I liked more.  It is beautiful for sure, but I think I might actually like a snowy Mason Creek ( our first hike details here) a little more… but I need to see it in summer.  It wove beautifully along the creek which was babbling in and out of ice and snow.  We crossed it a few times and once again I was so impressed with how they planned this state park, everything is so well thought out!  Overall the trail mostly climbs and the last half mile or so declines to the trail break.

Mason Creek Trail conditions

Mason Creek Trail conditions

one of many creek crossings on Mason Creek

one of many creek crossings on Mason Creek

The last mile on Mason Creek went down...on ice and snow

The last half mile on Mason Creek went down…on ice and snow

MC tc 3

When we got to the trail break, we had a choice to do just 7 ish miles or push on and try for the 10.3 miles.  If you get here and want the shorter route take Old Mill, it is just .9 miles to Staunton Ranch and then 1.7 to the parking lot.  The old original Mill is here too, surrounding by fencing to protect it but it was cool to see.

Old Mill

Old Mill

Boarder Line Trail

Border Line Trail

There is actually an Old Mill  in ruins at the trail break

There is actually an Old Mill in ruins at the trail break

We took Border Line and decided further was going to work… honestly I felt good and just doing the whole original planned loop felt really good.

From here it means climbing again and the first mile is straight up but not a super steep grade or anything plus it is a lot of switchbacks.

Boarder Line Trail Conditions

Border Line Trail Conditions

I was loving the views as we climbed, all the beautiful rock faces we saw as driving to the parking lot were right there…..spectacular.

Views on Border Line

Views on Border Line

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We got to the Staunton view-point after a mile on Border Line, it is a little offshoot from the Border Line trail and we took it knowing it added .2 miles to our overall hike.  I am so glad we did, the views were perfect.  It would have been better had the sky been cloudless but there is something about the moodiness clouds add that make it a sight to behold!  It is just .1 miles to the official view and then we kind of adventured to this other outcropping and got 180 degree views of everything….. I super love Colorado.

Staunton Overlook

Conditions at the overlook

Conditions at the overlook

Me at the overlook Views at overlook

From this point we climbed a little more and then it was straight down to the Staunton Ranch trail.

Coming down on Boarder Line

Coming down on Border Line

Staunton Ranch from Border Line

Staunton Ranch from Border Line

Getting on to Staunton Ranch Trail

Getting on to Staunton Ranch Trail

The Staunton Ranch Trail does a little up and down throughout and overall it is the easier stretch of the hike, just 3.3 miles of a stretch so be prepared if you do this loop.  I will admit the last 2 miles were a struggle for me on Saturday, my feet and legs were protesting the whole way but it felt great to get our original goal accomplished.

I am excited for the next hike, the weather is changing and so am I…. I am struggling with my healthy part but I am so looking forward to so many new hikes.  I want to be higher sooner and the snowshoes helped with that, we are comfortable at 10K already, thank you snowshoes!!!  Now I need to get better at carrying my snowshoes so we can be good at 11k, 12K, 13K and finally some 14k.  As always after the directions will be our favorite pictures…

I Hope your spring also started beautifully, so now just get out there and hike where ever you are!

Directions: Take US Highway 285 south to Shaffers Crossing, about 6 miles west of Conifer. Turn north on Elk Creek Road and follow the signs 1.5 miles to the park entrance

Pikes Peak was all lit up whenever we saw it from the trail.

Pikes Peak was all lit up whenever we saw it from the trail.

Rocks along Mason Creek Winter

Rocks along Mason Creek Winter 1/19/14

Same Rocks on 4/12/14

Same Rocks on 4/12/14

 

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Nymph, Dream & Emerald Lakes – RMNP – Estes CO, Snowshoed 3/15/14

21 Mar
Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

Nymph Lake > Dream Lake > Emerald Lake

Starting Elevation: 9400 ft

Highest Elevation: 10,100 ft

Trail Uses: hiking, snowshoe, cross-country skiing, hike in ski out…. anything with skis….

Trail Length: Officially 3.8 miles, we walked around Emerald and Nymph lakes a lot so we got around 4.5 miles for the day… it took us 3 hours although we did spend 30 minutes at Emerald lake in awe.

Degree of Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Bathrooms: Yes in the parking lot

Pets: No- No pets allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fees – Yes $20 per car a day OR $40 for annual pass with unlimited RMNP access – we have the pass

Looking back at Emerald Lake

Looking back at Emerald Lake

I have to tell you that I have been getting humbled by our snowshoes and how these shorter distances kinda kick my butt.  With that said I picked this easier snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park ( RMNP) in hopes that if I try something a little easier I won’t feel so defeated at the end.  It is short and the elevation gain is minimal.

As we were driving into the park, we were lucky enough to catch these Elk battling it out.

elk

We pulled into a huge parking lot that was quickly filling up at Bear Lake.  If this lot is full, they suggest parking at the Glacier Gorge parking lot and walk up from there.  I was impressed with how many people were out there given it was St. Paddy’s day weekend and the weather forecast was questionable.  The weather was supposed to be exactly like our first snowshoe at Mills Lake via Glacier Gorge, snowy with a lot of wind.  I had already made peace with the fact that I would not get any views just some experience and work on my leg strength with those snowshoes on. Getting out the car I was not surprised by our view.

parking lot view

Parking lot view

There are 2 options at this parking lot… well a lot more than 2 but for snowshoeing you had Bear lake, which is a 1 mile loop around Bear lake Or the 3 lakes we were going to that day; Nymph, Dream & Emerald. We took the path kinda up the middle and to the left of Bear Lake.  It is not far to Nymph lake, in fact maybe a half a mile and the path was hard packed we didn’t have our snowshoes on but carried them instead.  It was not super steep but we did climb up to the lake.  It was snowing even harder upon our arrival then when we started.

trail break 1 emerald lake sugn trail break 2

Trail Conditions to Nymph

Trail Conditions to Nymph

 

When we got there I realized I had left my directions in the car and so we started going the wrong way. I should have just looked for the hard packed trail but there was a large guided group there as well and it threw me off.  We went right and the snow felt lass hard here so I put my snowshoes on.  That’s when we saw everyone going left along the lake so we turned around and followed them up.  For the record I didn’t need my snowshoes for this portion either and really I could have gone without them until Emerald lake where I was actually out on the lake adventuring around.   It was kind of steep going up this section, I would say the most steep of the whole snowshoe and it was busy!

Nymph Lake

Nymph Lake

Views on the way to Dream Lake

Views on the way to Dream Lake

When we got to Dream Lake, I was once again confused by where to go.  There is a clear path off to the left but it must go up to other options, we decided to stay straight and cross over dream lake hoping to get to Emerald lake.  I was so consumed to see where everyone else was going that I failed to notice it was starting to clear up.  We thankfully crossed the path of another snowshoer who said we were on the right track for Emerald Lake and so we continued on.

Dream Lake Looking towards Emerald Lake

Dream Lake Looking towards Emerald Lake

Me on Dream Lake

Me on Dream Lake

It was not far to this last lake with some more climbing, a little over half a mile.  As we got a little higher, the sky lit up in the best blue while clouds moved around the peaks surrounding the lake.  It was amazing!  When we got to Emerald Lake Aaron put on his snowshoes while I ran out on to the lake to try to capture the views as best I could before we lost them again.  Honestly I could have stayed there longer it was so beautiful. The best part is we had it mostly to ourselves.

Trail Conditions going towards Emerald Lake

Trail Conditions going towards Emerald Lake

Skies opening up

Skies opening up

Almost to Emerald Lake

Almost to Emerald Lake

We spent about 30 minutes ohhhing and ahhing before heading back.   It was a slow start back because I kept turning around to enjoy the views before they were gone.  By the time we got back to Dream lake the clouds had moved back in, while the crowds were on the move to Emerald lake.  We passed so many people on the way down.

On Emerald Lake

On Emerald Lake

Overall it was a great snowshoe!  I would love to take visitors here so they could see the amazing beauty for themselves.  I  know I will be back in the summer, there is another lake to check out and so much to see, all off this parking lot.  I couldn’t believe how lucky we were in terms of our timing, it made me want to get back there as soon as I could!

Since the snowshoe was on the easier side, we got out on Sunday and did 7 miles at Deer Creek Canyon which is a muddy, snowy, icy mess right now.  It was a good workout.   After the directions will be some of my favorite pictures from the day.

However your week is going, find some time and get out there and hike!

Directions:  From Estes Park stay on 66/36 through town, at the 3rd light in town, turn left and follow the signs to the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station entrance into the park. There is a fee to enter the park through this entrance.
Shortly after passing through the Beaver Meadows fee station, turn left onto Bear Lake Road. Take Bear Lake Road until it dead-ends into the Bear Lake Trailhead area. If parking is unavailable at Bear Lake, it is possible to park at the Glacier Basin area and take a shuttle to Bear Lake.

Me on the way backfav1

 

One side of the lke Ice falls views on the way  down Beautiful

We caught this one on the drive out of the park

We caught this one on the drive out of the park

Spring Break hiking 3/1- 3/6/14 All Repeaters

15 Mar
view from Evergreen Mt.

view from Evergreen Mt.

When my nieces came to visit me last year, their one request was more hiking.  I honestly had no idea they would like it as much as they did.  I wanted to get them out as much as possible while still giving them a break from school.  I had grand plans, hike 3/1, snowshoe 3/2, sunrise hike 3/3, break on 3/4, hike of their choice on 3/5 play 3/6 by ear…. our first hike fell apart quickly while the snowshoe on 3/2 was excellent as I mentioned here.

For our sunrise hike on 3/3 I was pretty uncertain we would ever be able to do it because the avalanche risk was so high all through the high country and I am not yet educated on avalanche safety and awareness.  I picked a mountain that I knew was a low risk but tricky to get to, Colorado Mines Mountain.  With the snow storm we had on 3/1 I wasn’t certain the road up would be open but it was so we got up at 2AM and headed out to attempt their first sunrise hike.  When we arrived at the Berthoud Pass parking lot I was not expecting the 15 foot high wall of snow all around the parking lot nor Aaron getting bad coffee from 7-11.  He hardly had the car in park before he was running to the warming hut vault toilets to be sick.  Which I might add is one of the most awful places in the world to have that kind of situation in…. And my old negative Nellie said out loud “oh yeah we aren’t doing this”.

At the top of the continental divide sign

At the top of the continental divide sign

While Aaron was being sick I told them to get their snow pants on and wait in the car while I scouted out the trail to see what we had to work with.  The snow was actually hard enough to walk on and the snowshoe trail was just like Butler’s Gulch the week before in that we didn’t need snowshoes where all the other snowshoers had gone before us.  I walked a good quarter-mile up without anything but my hiking boots.  That walk felt good so I went back, checked on Aaron and the 3 of us adventured up the trail a bit to get a feel.  I should have had them put on their snowshoes and just gone for it but I didn’t, and my lack of confidence probably contributed to their unease.  We went up about half a mile, shut off our headlamps and then turned around.  We decided we would wait for sunrise in the parking lot and then head back for naps as soon as Aaron could safely leave the bathroom.  We goofed around where we could and then as the sun started to rise the snow picked up along with the wind… it was almost a white out.  I took a look down Berthoud pass and we weren’t going to catch any of the sunrise from there the snow was so thick in crazy blowing winds.  I am still kicking myself for not just taking them up alone, I am perfectly capable but I let doubt rule me!  Regardless it would have been miserable at the top with absolutely no views.  I promised them that if they came in the summer we would do this again on a better mountain.

On Wednesday, we hit Staunton State Park and the weather was absolutely perfect, the views were amazing and my nieces were the perfect company.  We hiked about 8 of the miles Aaron and I hiked last fall.  We did the Staunton Ranch trail to Scout Line, took Marmot down and then Staunton Ranch back out.   The hardest part was the little bit of snow we had to contend with, it was just enough to have slipping and sliding more than we wanted too.

The best view on Scout line - see pikes peak?

The best view on Scout line – see pikes peak?

What I loved was just talking with my nieces about whatever, they are adults now and so incredibly smart it was a revelation.   I found myself wanting to study again so I could keep up!

pikes peak and views staunton view on scout line

We did the length of Scout Line trail and then headed down Marmot passage to get a little loop back to Staunton Ranch trial.  Overall it gave us 8-9 miles of hiking with perfect weather and amazing company.

marmot passage sign

Taking marmot passage

view 2

View on the way down Marmot Passage

Staunton view on marmot

too good to miss

After making them hike a lot on Wednesday, my nieces were still up for another hike on Thursday so we decided that the first hike we wanted to take them on- Evergreen Mountain– would be the one to do.  It was like night and day from just 5 days before.  The only downside was the snow on the path with the ice underneath that snow.  Once again Lauren and Anne proved how awesome they are!   It was supposed to a warm beautiful day, and while it was warm the sun stayed hidden which meant it wasn’t as warm as we had hoped it would be.

I love showing new people to this trail, when I do I usually take them to it before we hike much else only because the route up can be kind of boring after other hikes.  I felt that boring aspect the most this last time with no sun and the pesky snow making us slip and slide all over the place even more than the day before.   But the summit views were lovely to behold as always.  I think that was the redeeming part of the hike for us all after a struggle to get up through the melting, sloppy snow… that and the drinks afterwards.

us on evergreen mt. at the top summit of evergreen

This visit overall was so nice, having my nieces here made me both miss my family terribly and want to redouble my efforts to get them all to move here to Colorado…. now I am patiently waiting until my next family visit.  It needs to come faster!

ice castle moment

I hope you are experiencing some form of spring awesomeness and if you are, get out there and hike, life is too short!!!!

Nordic Center Snowshoe, Breckenridge CO Snowshoed 3/2/14

9 Mar
View at the Hallelujah Hut

View at the Hallelujah Hut

Willow Trail > Engleman Trail > Hallelujah Hut

Starting Elevation:  Around 9800 Ft

Highest Elevation: Around 10,800 Ft ( total guess based on my fitbit number of stairs)

Trail Uses: Snowshoe only – Designated Terrain Park

Trail Length: 6-ish miles round trip

Degree of Difficulty:  Easy(Willow) to Moderate(Engleman)

Bathrooms: Yes – At the Nordic Center and at the Grand Lodge on Peak 7

Pets: No but it seemed like season ticket holders or locals were using the trails too and had dogs

Fees: Yes $20 for a day pass for the terrain park and $18 a day for snow shoe rental

View as we crossed over by Grand Lodge at Peak 7

View as we crossed over by Grand Lodge at Peak 7

Our first hike with our nieces was a disappointing cancel for 2 reasons, first when we  pulled into the trailhead parking lot we literally couldn’t see more than 2 feet in front of us the snow was so heavy.  I have to admit I didn’t want to try the hike with the weather the way it was but my nieces were still game… they ROCK!  Then when we were getting our shoes on I realized I had left mine at home in the garage, yep  I forgot them sitting all nice and warm on the tool table.  Needless to say we decided the weather was too bad to hike and just drove straight on to Breckenridge.  It turned out to be divine intervention because as we pulled back onto I70 the weather cleared just long enough to get to Breckenridge, where I could pick up new hiking boots, before the next wave hit.

On Sunday we got up early and headed right to the terrain park so that Anne & Lauren could try out snowshoeing, this way we could see how they liked it before we attempted a sunrise hike the next morning.  I had read up on the 3 Nordic Centers in and around Breckenridge and decided this one the best one to hit mostly because of all the trail options.  I have read that a lot of people didn’t like that it winds around all the mansions on Shock hill but we didn’t see that much of the houses on our trip and what we did see, didn’t bother us.

Anne & Lauren all ready to go.

Anne & Lauren all ready to go.

The people running the Nordic center might be the nicest people I have ever met, seriously they went through the trail map with me and circled all the places we might see Moose and suggested options for trail changes.  Then when I explained I needed to keep the snowshoes over night to do a sunrise hike/snowshoe but would be returning them early the next day, they only charged me the overnight fee of $5 instead of an additional full day rental. They also gave us tips on dealing with the Moose… did you know that if a moose is standing and looks like it might charge you can just jump behind a tree and it loses you? And as long as there are trees between you and the moose or they are laying down you should be fine!???! This is by no means scientific so always use caution around wild animals because they are WILD, but we found it interesting.

We started out on the Willow path, which was pretty nice and easy to let you get used to the snowshoes .  It winds through Shock Hill and the Alpine wet lands behind the Nordic Center.  We went under the Gondola going to Peak 8 and then popped out of the trees just north of the Grand Lodge on peak 7.  I stay at the Grand Lodge as much as I can so I knew right where the public restrooms were, we took off our snowshoes and took advantage of those restrooms. Up to this point the trail was pretty easy and VERY well-marked, the terrain park did a great job in putting trail markers every where to ensure their guests could find their way around.

Crossing over the first xcountry skiing path.

Crossing over the first cross-country skiing path.

DSCN0539

Turning onto Engleman from willow Red markers to Yellow Markers

Turning onto Engleman from willow Red markers to Yellow Markers

how Engleman was feeling in the beginning

how Engleman was feeling in the beginning

Once we crossed over by the Grand Lodge, the trail got a little harder but it was also almost completely empty.  The best part was when the sun came out bright and strong making the day perfect!

By the Grand Lodge on Peak 7

By the Grand Lodge on Peak 7

Very well marked

Very well-marked

Trail Conditions on Engleman

Trail Conditions on Engleman

The trail marker for the last mile to the Hallelujah hut

The trail marker for the last mile to the Hallelujah hut

We climbed the most at this point, through the pines and up along peaks 7 & 6 but outside of the skiing area.  As we came to a nice large open area the views were amazing and across the area we could see our turnaround point, Hallelujah Hut.  It was a welcome sight as we were all getting a little tired.  I am starting to learn that snowshoeing requires a little more stamina than hiking does, so each time I am surprised that I am so wiped after what I consider short distances.  We had a snack at the Hut and then made a quick return trip to the Nordic center.

Start of the last stretch

Start of the last stretch

Hallelujah Hut

Hallelujah Hut

While on the return, I overshot the trail turn back but we were thrilled with my mistake because it led us right to the some Moose  just chillin on one of the cross-country ski routes.  They had told us the Moose were all over the park that day but we had given up hope we might actually see some.  It was the perfect way to end the snowshoe!

Moose

Moose

Us and Moose

Us and Moose

I loved the Terrain Park at the Nordic Center, in fact I plan on going there again as soon as we can.  It is a really good way to get used to snowshoes, the trails are well marked and goes through amazing scenery.  We had a lot of fun on our snowshoe, I think maybe we took on a little more than we should have as we were all wiped at the end of almost 5 hours of snowshoeing.  But we laughed a lot and got to see moose!  After the directions will be some of our favorite pictures.

Directions: From Breckenridge Main Street take Ski Hill/Lincoln West up Ski Hill for almost a mile, the NOrdic Center will be on you Left at 1200 Ski Hill Road.  Go Past the first Nordic Center sign for the actual parking lot. entrance.

More VIews

More Views

Aaron said get crazy I heard Get Cozy.... much laughter and confusion followed

Aaron said get crazy I heard Get Cozy…. much laughter and confusion followed

Action shot

Action shot

hh views Stream corssing SC 2 fav1

Butler Gulch Snowshoe, Empire CO 2/22/14

26 Feb
The View to the East at the top

The View to the East at the top

On Tuesday when I came home to the huge box with our snowshoes, I kinda wanted to go out right then and to try them out.  Unfortunately there is no real snow here on the Front Range so I had to wait until the weekend to get my fix in.

The view South at the top

The view South at the top

I had hiked Butler Gulch( Hike Details here) in September of 2012 and had read that it was actually a more popular snowshoe than hiking trail.  This is the trail I knew I wanted to do as our first solo snowshoe.  It was one we had done before, the nature of the bowl we were hiking into made it safer from avalanche danger than most and it meant we could hit Tommyknockers on the way home.

When we pulled up to the parking lot, we were impressed with how many cars were already there and more were pulling in constantly.  Fortunately it was not all for Butler Gulch, but also for Jones Pass which is open to motorized vehicles(Butler Gulch is not), lots of snow mobiles were over that way.

Parking Lot

Parking Lot

We put on our snowshoes at the car and started up the road to the trail head, I don’t think we needed to do this as the trail was pretty stable and our boots would have been fine.  It was so cool walking over the gate to the trail, knowing it meant we were on 4 feet of snow, but again, I think we could have walked this all in our boots it was packed so hard.

Standing on the gate

Standing on the gate

The Gate in Summer....

The Gate in Summer….

We moved out at a nice pace and then as we climbed in elevation we definitely slowed down, I guess it had been longer than I thought since we were last at 10,000+feet.  Despite the struggle with the altitude I was so happy to be out there.  The weather was pretty good, just a little snow falling and occasionally we would hear big wind up above.

The start trail1 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView along the trail 1

It took us longer than we expected to go just 2 ish miles, around 2 – 2.5 hours, and I think it took this long for 2 reasons. First, the altitude kicked my butt the whole way up while I practically flew down the gulch in the return trip.  Second, it was just interesting to get used to the snow shoes, we got mountaineering ones and went with men 30’s .  They are bigger and heavier than what we used 2 weeks before, but it was right for our weight combined with our backpacks.  It was like walking with those ankle weights on but we did float better.

snowshoes

The path itself wasn’t too steep until it was crazy steep, the last climb up was very challenging so when I fell heading up, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get up and it took me a couple of minutes to sort of wiggling around to get to a standing position.  Conversely when I fell coming down at the same point… I couldn’t get up so I just scooted on my butt down to the tree line.

Getting Steep

Getting Steep

Just a peek as we catch our breath

Just a peek as we catch our breath

It flattened out above that steep section and we could see the whole bowl in front of us with all the mountains north of us, it was beautiful!  I am so glad we stopped here to capture it because not 5 minutes after we snapped a few pictures the wind picked up in a wicked way and didn’t stop.  This is the challenge of being at 11,000ft, when the weather changes it is dramatic.  I got a few pictures of the snow blowing like crazy and then we hightailed it out of there.  The wind was coming hard enough that our path up was already being covered.

the way we planned on continuing

the way we planned on continuing

View Before it changed

View Before it changed

Changing

Changing

Changing

Changing

Changed

Changed

The trip down took maybe an hour and let me tell you the traffic going up was heavy, I think we easily passed a 100 people or more heading up.  Most were going up to do some back country skiing, with a couple of groups of snowshoers as well.  We passed one couple that had done almost the whole thing in just their micro spikes, they were so friendly, they had snowshoes attached to their packs and were holding out til the last-minute to put them on.   It was interesting to see that we could have done the same trail in our micro spikes without postholing… next time.  I think the only hard part is knowing when to switch it up.  I am not sure where the right spot to put on the snowshoes is at.  I think I did know where it wasn’t …. I am sure once I get more comfortable I will be able to figure out when I need to switch.

Moving down fast

Moving down fast

The day itself was pretty amazing, I never imagined I would be able to climb up to 11,000+ft this time of year and the snowshoes made it so easy!  I was surprised by the level of traffic on the trail but it is pretty close to Winter Park and likely a good break for skiers on a crowded Saturday.

I hope if you find yourself out this way, that you get a chance to check this one out!

Just as an FYI… I will not be posting for a bit, my nieces are coming out for spring break at the end of the week and we have a crazy schedule set up.  We are hiking, snowshoeing, seeing the ice castle in Breckenridge, doing a sunrise hike( their request) and lots of shopping and laughing.  I think my evil plan to make them love Colorado enough to want to live here is working! I will catch up as soon as I can!

In the meantime get out there and hike!

Weigh in Day 2/21/14 -1lb, 55.4 down 34.6 left to go

21 Feb
Nugget is helping me do chest

Nugget is helping me do chest

I have to tell you this week was really tough.  There were work lunches I had to participate in that were catered in with no input from the attendees, so my choices were limited and I guessed on calories eaten on those 2 days.  I wont lie, I also indulged in the crazy rich, fat full brownie one day for no other reason than I was bored with the topic and struggling to stay focused… so I ate a brownie.  It was delicious and guilt ridden.   The next lunch was at one of those places that is on Diners, drive-ins and Dives and seriously everything in the place was bad for you… not only was it all bad for you, all the good for you stuff sounded extra terrible next to the regular menu.  I was weak-willed and went bad.

The upside is I  exercised off most my guilt and kinda got over myself.

In 2 weeks I will have been on this journey for 2 full years and I thought I had moved to the lifestyle stage, but all week I struggled with old feelings of wanting to eat whatever I want, when I want and in obscene quantities.  It felt like a diet for the first time in a long time.

This loss is coming at the right time, because I fought so hard against old behaviors and had success, it actually made me feel stronger in my determination to get to my goal weight this year.

I know the struggle will never end, I didn’t get 100 pounds overweight in a week or after a bad year, it was a lifetime of bad habits.  I guess that I need to start working on the “some days will be harder than others” aspect of it all and managing it better emotionally.

On a different note, the snowshoes showed up!!!! I can tell you we are like kids on Christmas eve today. I cannot wait to snowshoe tomorrow, I have 2 trails picked out and it will all depend on traffic as to which one we do.

I hope where ever you are, you can get out there hike soon!