Monday, December 27, 2010

Snowshoeing in Clear Creek County. In search of snow on a warm Christmas Day.

Glittery snow sparkling in the sun
I have been dreaming of a white Christmas since September, when we decided we would stay in Colorado this year for the holidays instead of going 'home' to Michigan as we usually do.  Unfortunately for me, the Front Range didn't get a drop of snow, and in fact, it was in the mid 50s with sun and I was hot in my sweatshirt and jeans taking the dogs for a walk.  Josh and I decided since the snow wasn't going to find us, we were going to find the snow, and we drove into the mountains on I-70 west in search of some snowshoeing weather.  It wasn't hard to find a lot of snow about 35 minutes west of Golden, the mountains got slammed with a storm that measured in feet.  We drove to the Bakerville Exit off I-70 and there was plenty of snow on the south side of the highway to snowshoe on the Bakerville/Loveland trail that spans 5 miles.  It's popular in the winter for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and even some winter hiking.  In the summer, this is popular for mountain bikers and hikers. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grant Terry Park, Golden Colorado, Jefferson County

New bridge crossing Clear Creek
It has been weeks since I posted, shame on me; and I also haven't hiked much in the past month due to the busy holiday season for my business, but I am grateful for that.   Things are slowing down a little now that most of the holiday shopping is done and I am trying to get back into my routine of hiking (or snowshoeing) each week. 
This weekend, Josh and I went on a short hike just inside Clear Creek Canyon at a new Jefferson County Open Space called the Grant Terry Park.  The park was constructed when the new pedestrian bridge was built across Clear Creek Canyon giving access to the east side of the river.  The area then was made into a park with access to the river, and some trails on the west side of Lookout Mountain. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cub Creek Trailhead, Evergreen Colorado; A Hike through the Pine Forest and getting into the spirit!

Single aspen in a field, with pine all around
It's been about a week and a half since I hiked North Table Mountain and I had been promising the dogs all week I'd take them; Friday came and I had to fulfill my promise.  Lately, I haven't really had the desire to hike, maybe it's because the winter is here and there are no more colorful aspen leaves, the high peaks aren't very accessible or safe (by myself in the winter), and our 10th peak over 14,000 feet late this summer was Mt. Elbert; Colorado's tallest mountain and the second tallest in the continental USA.  So, I am kind of feeling like what else is out there? And what can I do in the winter that will be new and interesting when the higher peaks aren't accessible safely?  
I forced myself to get into the car, and by 9:30am I was heading up I-70 toward Evergreen and thinking to myself that I wasn't really in the 'holiday' spirit this year and I didn't really want to hike.  Then I thought of my former co-worker who used to listen to KOZI 101.1 all through the holiday season in our small office and they play only Christmas music at this time of year.  While I was very sick of it by the time Christmas rolled around, it was nice now and then, so I turned it on only to hear some cheezy Gloria Estefan songs and I nearly changed it but some jazz Christmas music came on, and suddenly I was getting excited for the upcoming holidays and for the hike. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

North Table Mountain, Golden Colorado, A New Jeffco Trailhead!

Lone tree on the top of Table Mountain;
It has been a week or so since I have made it out to the trails due to my business picking up for the holiday season; and while I am glad for the increase in business, I miss hiking!  Even though I didn't have much time last week, I made sure to get outside at least one day and I combined it with a photo shoot for my new hiking cowl The Peak, getting two things done at once! 
I have been eager to hit up North Table Mountain because Jefferson County Open Space has been busy creating a new trailhead with lots of parking, a bathroom and even a trail map with mileage to take with while hiking.   There are two loops on the mesa, and a couple of other side trails for a total 7+ miles of hiking and biking paths.  Now, this trail has always been on North Table Mountain, but it was never an "official" trailhead with bathrooms or maintained trails.  This hike will take you all over the top of North Table Mountain with views of the Flatirons, City of Denver, Golden and Applewood.  There are numerous animals on Table Mountain as well, so keep your eyes peeled for deer, coyotes, bunnies, foxes and even elk; all which I have seen at one time or another on this mountain! 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A hike to Ice Lake and two waterfalls, San Juan Mountains, Silverton Colorado

Looking back at the mountainside
The last hike we did on our San Juan road trip was a hike that started next to the S. Mineral Campground where we were staying, called the hike to Ice Lake.  There was no mileage on the sign, so Josh and I had no idea how far this hike would be, and the rain was obviously going to come in, but we continued to hike up in hopes to reach the lake anyway.  After a short while of hiking, the trail crosses over the river and we completely missed the left turn across the river and we continued up the steep side of the mountainside next to the waterfall.  We then realized this trail was a short social trail just to view the waterfall, which is one of the bigger waterfalls in Colorado that I have seen.  I snapped numerous waterfall pics and then we hiked back down the steep mountainside to find the trail that we had lost.  It didn't take long before we realized that the trail crosses the larger creek/river and we skipped across the rocks to get to the other side. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

South Mineral Campground, Silverton Colorado camping, Road Trip

Morning sun on the dew at campsite; on etsy
The last two nights of our road trip were to be spent somewhere between Silverton and Ouray or in Ouray at a campground or campsite.  But since we had such a hard time finding campgrounds/sites during the beginning of the trip, I was concerned were doomed to spending another day in the car.  We drove from our campsite that we vacated earlier in the day and headed north on 550 through the dramatic town of Silverton with the huge mountains surrounding the teeny town and continued up the million dollar highway (550) to find a campsite.  Just past Silverton we noticed a national forest campground sign pointing us to turn left onto Co Rd 7, we decided to camp down this road, no matter what, just to get us out of the car!  While the scenery on dirt road CO Rd 7 was pretty, it wasn't amazing like Colorado's scenery can be.  The road follows Lime Creek and there are numerous dispersed campsites along the road and beside the river; there are also two small free campgrounds on this road just after your turn.  However, none of the sites looked good to us, so we continued down the bumpy, but easily drivable, dirt road past a fork in the road, and ended at the South Mineral Campground.  By this time it was getting dark fast, the campground was pretty nice, settled in the valley between the mountains and next to the river.  Many of the campsites were under the ponderosa pine, other sites more out in the field; there were 3 loops in the large campground, and the bathrooms were open for use in mid-October, which was a big plus for me.  We found a campsite in the last loop near the front of the campground, there were two other campers in other loops at the campground, but it was far from crowded and we were happy to have that solitude. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

An easy family hike to Spud Lake, Potato Lake, Durango Colorado Road Trip

Spud Lake, Durango Colorado.  San Juan Mtns
Our road trip to the Southwest portion of Colorado encompassed a lot of driving and spending time in the car.  While it's fun to drive through the beautiful area, its much more fun to hike through it!  On the second day in the Durango area, we vacated our spot at the Haviland Campground and drove up the road to find another campsite and hike.  We continued driving north on 550 and turned down National Forest access road Lime Creek Road.  After a few miles of tough driving, we stopped at what we thought was an amazingly secluded campsite and set up camp, then walked up the road around a curve and found a trailhead to Spud Lake.  We thought we were so very lucky to find this amazing campsite, but once we returned from our hike at 1:00pm, the entire camp site was filled with cars and our secluded amazing site was no more.  When I returned home to research this hike, I found that it's called Spud Lake, but the actual name of the lakes are Scout Lake and Potato Lake, "Spud" lake is a nickname given to the lakes by locals in the area.  The hike is also very popular among locals for being an easy trail for people of all ages. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Haviland Lake Campground, Durango Colorado, San Juan Mountains Road Trip

Haviland Lake, campground on hill to right
On the second night of our road trip, we planned on camping 'somewhere' between Durango and Ouray.  We wanted to spend most of the time in this area hiking and camping, but we weren't sure which campgrounds were open or where we could find good national forest camping.   We drove north of Durango on Hwy 550 and the aspen trees were still near peak color and the groves of aspens were much bigger than we were used to living on the Front Range.  I decided we needed to camp here since the color was still near peak, plus it was getting dark, so we began to search for a spot.   I really wanted to camp in a national forest dispersed site so that the dogs could run free, but after searching down a few dirt roads and not finding a good site, we decided to continue up 550 farther north.  Just as we reached 550 and started north, we found the Haviland Lake Campground.  Two of it's three loops were still open during the fall and the camping fee was just $7.50, but the bathrooms weren't open and the water wasn't turned on; however there was garbage service.  Because we were tired, we camped here and planned to get up early to find a more secluded spot and to hike. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Valley View Campground and hot springs, Orient Land Trust, Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Views of the Sangre's and San Luis Valley
 For our 6 year wedding anniversary Josh and I bought this little Chalet camper and took a trip through southwest Colorado, an area we had never been to before.  On our way there, we stopped in the Sangre's to camp for the first night instead of making the 6 hour drive all in one day.  We decided to camp at Valley View Hot Springs in the Orient Land Trust just south of Salida on the west side of the Sangre's.  I was pleasantly surprised at the campground, many of the sites were well spaced apart, some had good privacy and nearly all had great views of the Sangre's or San Luis Valley.  Those that did not have views were very near to the hot springs.  The hot springs are located throughout the grounds and are all in a natural setting, many of the pools are fairly shallow; but pool #3 and the main pool and hot tub (which are the only pools created by cement) are deeper for actual swimming.  One more thing to note, this is a clothing optional campground and hot springs and many of the guests swam nude.  It was a new experience for us, but fun and different nonetheless. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hiking in Westcliffe, Gibson Creek Trailhead

Sangre de Cristo range looking south
A couple of years ago my girlfriends and I started an "annual" girls camping trip; the first year all 6 of us went to Twin Lakes to camp, the next year we went to Rainbow Lakes outside of Nederland.  Then the last two summers two of the girls were pregnant and we didn't go camping; but this year the mommies were especially excited for a weekend away.  Due to all of our activities, jobs, weddings, etc, we decided to push our trip to October 10th.   As that date approached, we realized that it would be very cold to camp, and even though I was OK with this, the other girls were not.  It was then decided that we'd go to our friend Anne's parents house in Westcliffe.  We were still able to get into the mountains, but we'd be in beds and not be cold.  It was a very posh girls 'camping' weekend!  Nonetheless, we were still able to get out and hike at the Gibson Creek trailhead, right up against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the fall colors were just past peak and still looking brilliant against the bright blue Colorado sky.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Beaver Brook Trail to Windy Saddle Park; Jefferson County Colorado

Beaver Brook Creek with one of many small waterfalls
The Beaver Brook trail spans 8.65 miles from the trailhead in Genesee to the Windy Saddle parking lot on the Golden side of Lookout Mountain.  The trail is 8.6 miles one way and makes for a great day hike if you have a shuttle back to your car.  Josh and I hiked this trail last winter but we did hiked a few miles out then picked up the Chavez trail to make it a loop; but I knew I had to go back and complete the entire 8.6 mile hike.  The Beaver Brook trail is a hiker only, back-country trail just outside of the city on Lookout Mountain.  The trail is moderately difficult; (7 out of 10) with a few very steep sections in the beginning near Genesee and some sections with big boulders on the Windy Saddle side.  The trail provides good views into Clear Creek Canyon and of the Continental Divide, as well as sections through the forest and meadows. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Camping in Guanalla Pass; Burning Bear and Whiteside Campgrounds and Pike National forest Camping

Our new Chalet, views of Square Top Mtn, Pike N'tl Forest
 Last weekend Josh and I wanted to get out and camp for at least one night; I had my last Farmers Market booth October 2nd and we planned on running home, unpacking the market inventory, loading the camping gear and hitting the road!  We wanted to see the last of the fall colors in the mountains and to enjoy our newly bought Chalet camper!  Josh and I have been looking for a small camper for about a year now; we want to camp during the winter and that's pretty rough in a cold tent, we also wanted the ability to get off the ground at night and to still enjoy camping if it rains.  The Chalet is an A-frame style camper that is hard sided (a must out west) that folds down into a small pop-up style camper for the drive.  We weren't sure how it was going to do on a Colorado dirt road filled with mountains, potholes and more, but we were pleasantly surprised that it towed great and we made it way out into the wilderness without any problems!  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chief Mountain in fall; Scenic drive on Peak to Peak highway

Orange & yellow along Peak to Peak Hwy, Squaw Pass Rd
I have been sick for nearly 3 weeks now with a terrible fall cold that is just not going away anytime soon!  Because of the cold I haven't been out hiking nearly as much since I am trying to rest, but last week I couldn't stand it any longer and I had to get outside and do a short hike!  I decided to hike Chief Mountain a sub-peak of Mt. Evans because it was close plus, the drive up Mt. Evans is a great place to see the fall color, even though it's a hike I have done before.  This year the aspen trees turned a tint of orange with the bright yellow and forest green evergreen trees.  
As I drove up the windy road I had to keep a careful eye on the road and not look at the scenery as much as I'd like because several cars were parked along the road with passengers even standing in the middle of the road to take photos of the beautiful colors!  The views were definitely stunning, but maybe not so stunning that it warrants standing in the middle of the road.  When I reached the trailhead, I was a little disappointed that all of  the aspen trees were at lower elevations, but the views from the top did not disappoint.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hiking Grays Peak; 2007, a blast from the past hike!

~ The post below was written before I started this blog; we hiked our 3rd 14er, Grays Peak in the fall of 2007.  Below I have added the blog post from my personal blog and the photos taken almost exactly 3 years ago today; I did add directions for your information.  It makes me chuckle reading this knowing how much we struggled back then compared to now.  We have done a lot of high altitude hikes and acclimating since then. 
This weekend Josh and I, with our friends David and Laura, climbed one of Colorado's 14,000 foot peaks, Grays Peak.  I was really glad that I could accomplish this after hurting my back so badly earlier this summer, and felt really grateful while I was hiking.  Climbing a 14er is like running a marathon, except your not racing anyone just yourself and your mind; it's a huge mental and physical challenge. 
Josh and I have climbed Mt Bierstadt (with dogs Rock and Aspen)  Mt Quandry with Dad and Greg (and Rock) and now Grays Peak, with Laura and David (with Rock and Sadie).  We also attempted Snowmass, Dad, sister, friend Laura, Josh and Rock, but didn't make it to the peak.  Mostly due to a really long car drive there, falling rock and a Class 3 trail. 
It was a beautiful day in the mountains, there was not a cloud in the sky when we began our hike at 8:30am (one hour later than planned) but there was a cool wind, and it was about 60 degrees out.  Really nice weather actually, except for the wind. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall colors are nearing their peak in the Rocky Mountains; climb Raspberry Mountain 10,605 ft

Tunnel of Aspen trees early in the  hike
Fall is my favorite time of year in Colorado; the days are cooler with averages in the 70s, my garden is plentiful, and most especially the mountains turn a golden color and the aspen's shimmer in the sunlight making the scenery is even more spectacular.  The autumn season also draws hikers and scenic drivers into the mountains to view the changing aspen trees; and they are nearing their peak color right now.
I wanted to get Josh out into the mountains so he could see the changing aspen trees for himself, rather than through my pictures; so I planned a great hike for us, one I had been "saving" since I knew it would be really cool in the fall.  
Raspberry Mountain in Pikes National Forest stands 10,605 ft above sea level, a rocky summit that is dwarfed by nearby Pikes Peak.  But the views from the top are by far my favorite views on top of any mountain I have climbed so far, including numerous 14ers.  There is something really cool about climbing a 'smaller' mountain, you get better views of the scenery below (since you are closer to it) and amazing views of the larger mountains and ranges,; especially with the fall colors giving dimension to the long range views.   This is a must hike at any time of the year, but fall just might be the best time of year on Raspberry Mountain.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What "not" to do in preventing a cougar attack; Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Fall colors on the Burro trail
I did this hike last Friday, and as I was typing it up and about to publish, something happened and Blogger ate my post.  I finally had time today to re-write it. 
Today I woke up early and once the sun hit the Colorado blue sky I decided that I needed to go hiking.  Quickly, I chose Golden Gate Canyon State Park because it was fairly close and I could gain enough elevation to see some of the fall colors.  I packed my bag and got the dogs into the car and took off out the door. 
When I reached the trail there was a big sign warning about mountain lions in the area (not uncommon in Colorado) but this just fueled my recent fear about mountain lions.  Maybe because I caught part of a TV show about a cougar attack, or because on a recent hike, I had unusual paranoia that a mountain lion was stalking me; complete with hair on the back of my neck standing up.  Then, yesterday another writer posted an article about how to protect yourself from a mountain lion attack.  After reading the article I became even more anxious because I often hike alone and with dogs which are two items on the "what not to do" list.  
Since I don't plan to stop hiking alone with my dogs I need to buy some bear spray; I also am going to be more aware about the dogs being off leash and I will probably not let Belle off when I am alone.  She does run up and down the trail, which could attract a cougar and bring it right back to me, but Rock stays next to me the entire hike and I am not as worried about her for that reason.  At least with the bear spray  I will have some protection against the big cat.  Fortunately, attacks are rare, but I often wonder when the hair on the back of my neck stands up and I quickly look behind me to find nothing there; if I am feeling a million year old human instinct because something is watching me or just complete paranoia?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Colorado Girl's favorite hiking gear; Part 2

Josh on Mt. Elbert using his Leki Hiking Pole
I started writing about my favorite hiking gear in a previous post, and quickly realized that I would need more than one post to cover all of my favorite gear. 
In my last post, I listed my favorite hiking shoes, backpack, and hand warmers for those cold mornings or winter hiking.  In this post, I will discuss the pros and cons of hiking poles and my favorite outdoor clothing and accessories.  The gear you wear, and items you take with you on  your hike can very well save your life if something happens out in the wilderness.  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This hike has it ALL; waterfalls, red rock canyons,colorful aspen trees and more!

Waterfalls along the trail, very pretty
Hiking in Colorado usually takes us to a peak, or a lake, or a place with scenic views; but wouldn't you rather hike a place that has it all?  The Stanley Canyon trail, north of Colorado Springs, has just that; red walled canyons, views of the Springs and the Air Force Academy, waterfalls, climbing and difficulty, aspen trees, wildflowers and the trail ends at a scenic reservoir in the middle of the mountains.  Wow! 
I had no idea how incredible this hike would be when I started up the trail but it didn't take long to espy what a great trail this would be and I couldn't stop snapping photo's along the way.  The hike to Stanley Reservoir is 2 miles each way; but the trail is difficult with Class 2 climbing (using your hands to help you) in some locations; but once you are out of the canyon and behind it, the last 1/3 of the trail becomes much easier as it meanders through high elevation meadows with wildflowers and golden aspen trees that glimmered in the sunlight. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Barbour Forks Trail, exploratory hike, Idaho Springs Colorado

Looking up at the Aspen Trees
After hiking several 14ers in the past few weeks I was a little tired of hiking in the high altitude but I considered finishing off one of my last goals for the year; hiking a 14er alone.  But I felt under the weather yesterday and today had a high wind warning, so I decided to hike closer to home and found a trail on the Clear Creek County website that I wanted to check out. 
Now that it's fall, the trees are changing in the high elevation and the information about the Barbour Forks Trail says it takes the hiker through flowery meadows and aspen trees, which was something that sounded great to me instead of the rocky alpine tundra that I had become used to the past few weeks.  

I woke up early when Josh left for work, but it was so chilly out that I waited until 8am before leaving the house to drive to Idaho Springs.  After just a half an hour I made it to the trailhead and had a wonderful hike choosing my route up the Arapaho National Forest trails, hiking through meadows with wildflowers still in bloom and gold tipped aspen trees sparkling in the sunlight.  It was a perfect hike for me this week. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This Colorado Girl's favorite hiking gear

Some of my fav gear, crochet wrist warmers & North Face Pack
I am often asked what kind of gear do I use on hikes; what are my favorite hiking shoes, camelback (or water carrying source), coat, hiking poles, accessories, etc? I do have very specific favorites when it comes to these items; I have wore the same hiking shoes for 6 years and they are still comfy; I carry the same pack every-time I hike, and I always try to add a little personality to my wardrobe with handmade accessories that look cute and are useful! 
One of my pet peeves with hiking gear is that its not really very attractive at all. What lady wants to look like her husband/boyfriend on the trail with the exact same coat in a different size, horrible hiking pants that make your hips look really wide and your skiing gloves that are too hot to wear but you don't care if they get dirty? I know not me!  Now, I am not saying to forgo the comfy Colorado lifestyle (say; hiking boots and tall socks, or socks with sandals) but lets try to update this a little bit for a cuter Colorado girl look.  First I want to show you this You-Tube video;
Colorado Girls; and after you watch, I am sure you'll understand what I mean .

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mt. Elbert, Colorado's tallest mountain at 14,433 ft!

On top! 14,433ft, 2nd tallest in Cont. USA
Last weekend when my family visited, we hiked Mt. Lincoln via the Mt Cameron route and we had so much fun that Josh and I were eager to  hike at least one more 14er before winter set in in the high country. Initially we had plans to go to Durango and hike, an area which we have never visited before, but the drive proved to be too much for Josh at the last minute so we decided to hike Mt. Elbert.  Mt. Elbert is the tallest mountain in Colorado at 14,433 feet above sea level; it is also the second tallest mountain in the Continental USA behind California’s Mt. Whitney. I had read that Mt. Elbert was classified as a Class 1, the easiest of the 14ers, however the steepness and exposure during the hike makes me think it was more of a Class 2.
After nearly 5 hours and 4.5 miles of gaining 4700 feet in elevation we were standing on the top! It was an incredible challenge and a very long hike, but an amazing feat to reach the summit; this is the 10th, 14er that we have hiked and it’s very fitting that it was the tallest in Colorado. 

  The Mt. Elbert trailhead standard route starts a short drive from the mountain town of Leadville, about 1.5 hours from our home in Golden, CO. From Leadville, drive south through the town and follow the signs toward Hwy 24 East.  Just as you are leaving the south end of Leadville turn right onto CR 300 and immediately cross the railroad tracks; drive for just under a mile and make a left turn onto CR 11 toward Halfmoon Creek.  

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hiking 14ers, Mount Lincoln and Cameron; Alma Colorado

Rock outcropping near top of Mt. Lincoln and Mtns beyond
Each year my family comes from Michigan to Colorado to visit us and and every year we hike a 14er with my father, who loves hiking and adventure.  My dad is nearly 60 years old, but somehow manages to muscle himself up the mountains, in high altitude, with little oxygen, and he makes the hike look easy.   This year we planned on hiking Mt. Lincoln via the Kite Lake Route over the top of Mount Cameron (which is over 14,000 feet but isn't considered a "14er" due to the length of the saddle between Lincoln and Cameron, click here for more info).  
Also hiking with us were my sister and her new husband Cody also hiked with us along with my father's friend Bob.  My sister hiked Mount Evans with us two years ago, but this was Cody's first trip to Colorado and he bravely completed the hike.  I am always a little concerned for anyone who comes from sea level to hike at 14,000 feet, but the Michigan crew completed the hike and made it to the top without much of a problem! 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

North Empire Loop - Empire, Exploratory hike

Hiking up the narrow road.
All summer I have said that Josh and I need to pack a dinner and take a hike after Josh gets out of work some weekday afternoon.   For one reason or another, we had not done this all summer, but I said last Friday that we were getting outside and into the mountains!  Josh gets home from work around 3pm and I had packed up tuna melt sandwiches, fruit, salad and a couple of beers.  The dogs were going crazy because they knew they were going hiking, and because the smell of tuna fish was in the air.  Shortly after Josh arrived home we drove out to Guanalla Pass to do a hike to Silver Lake, which was quickly cut short because Guanalla Pass is closed on the I-70 side due to construction.  I had read the sign several times saying the Pass was closed, but I had incorrectly assumed it was closed farther up the road and we could still access the hike.  Since that plan was squashed, we drove back east to Empire to find the North Empire Loop/Bill Moore trail which turned into quite an adventure.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Diamond Lake; Fourth of July Trailhead, Eldora Colorado

Waterfall at bottom of trail before going uphill
The Fourth of July Trailhead has been on my hiking 'to-do' list all year long; I had tried to hike here a few months ago, but ended up at the Eldora ski area, Jenny Creek trail, after forgetting my directions.  Yesterday I had my directions and I was ready to hike; as I drove up Coal Creek Canyon I chuckled to myself, 'this has been the summer of the Indian Peaks Wilderness,'  because I have spent more time hiking in this wilderness than anywhere else this summer.  It's only about an hour to an hour and a half drive to most trailheads in the wilderness and it offers lots of different scenery and really big mountains.  
The Fourth of July trailhead is known for it's waterfalls, wildflowers and snow!  It's been said that you can't hike the Fourth of July trail until July because of the deep snow that doesn't melt until the middle of the summer; or because the trail looks like fireworks on the 4th with all the wildflowers lining the trail.  Either way, the trail is beautiful and it's worth the drive up the bumpy road to reach this unique area.   

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Solo Hike, Mt. Audubon; 13,221 feet. Fighting the wind in Indian Peaks Wilderness

Field of Wildflowers at 12,500 ft; Trail to Mt. Audubon
I woke up at 3am unable to sleep, so I decided to get up and try to get some work done.  However, I ended up reading some of my favorite hiking blogs and it started to get me thinking about going hiking this morning.  I was already awake early, I could pack my bag, hit the road and do a long hike on this beautiful Tuesday morning and make it home to do some work by the time Josh got home.  I read a few more blogs and decided where to hike until my husband's alarm started going off at 4:30.  I got into the shower, packed my bag, and was out the door before 6am. 
I had decided at 13er, Mt. Audubon, one of the highest and longest hikes I have ever done alone.  But I was feeling great after my birthday 13er and really wanted to push myself more.  The dogs and I jumped into our new SUV (new to us)  and drove up the mountain, it's much smoother than the Explorer and the ride was really comfortable.  It was a peaceful as the sun peeked through the trees over the mountains, it took me nearly an hour and a half to reach my destination!  I was eager to hit the trail, even after I paid the surprising $9 entrance fee to the Brainard Lake Recreation area, found my parking spot,  then I stepped out of the truck and noticed that while it was sunny and beautiful, the wind was fierce! 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Solo Camping, Peak One Campground Frisco, Colorado

I had been planning to do some solo camping this summer, but I have been so busy that there just hadn't been time.  However, at the end of July I had a great reason to spend some time in Breckenridge on a Wednesday night; my cousin's band was playing there and since it was during the week, Josh wouldn't be able to go.  I packed up my gear and hit the road Wednesday morning and arrived in Frisco to set up my tent.  I had picked out Peak One Campground in Frisco because it was the closest campground to the location of the music Wednesday evening, and because it looked like a beautiful campground on one of the Dillon Reservoir's peninsula's in Frisco Bay.   When I arrived there were several sites still available, however even on a Wednesday the best sites were already taken.  I did find a great campsite with incredible views of the water and the surrounding mountains. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Mt. Sniktau; 13,234 feet on the Continental Divide

Start of hike at Loveland Pass
Friday, August 6th was my birthday and I had planned all week on doing a high elevation hike, preferably a front range 13er.  I choose Mt. Sniktau which was easily accessible from I-70 and I felt comfortable driving there in our 11 year old SUV which has seen better days.  I told my husband where I was hiking and interestingly he was immediately concerned that I was doing this high elevation hike alone.  I was surprised at his reaction, it's unusual for him to be overprotective, but his concern made me think about how different it is for me to hike as a single female (with 2 dogs) than as a single male hiker.  I often read blogs from male writers who describe their latest solo peak-bagging trip, but my experience on the mountain is a very different experience.   Some of my girlfriends don't like to hike alone for fear of danger from other people; which is the least of my concerns, but I understand where why she has this fear.  Mostly, I worry about mountain lions, rattlesnakes and bears; and my car breaking down or getting stuck on the side of a mountain out of cell range.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gold Hill Trailhead, Breckenridge Colorado

I had planned on hiking in Breckenridge this week because my favorite band was playing a show at 320 South on a Wednesday night.  Not only is the band, The Bridge, my favorite band, but my cousin plays saxophone in the group and I get to see him whenever they are in town.  My plan was to get up early, work for a few hours, then drive to Frisco to set up my tent and pick up my cousin and his band mates for a short hike before they had to set up for their show.   This all worked out well, except I left my directions for the hike I had planned on doing at my house, of course!  Fortunately the Frisco/Breckenridge area has tons of trails that are obviously visible from highway 9 that we were able to find quickly with our limited time frame and we were able to hike at Gold Hill Trailhead. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

James Peak 13,307 feet, St Marys Glacier, Colorado

After returning home from our road trip through the midwest for two weeks, we were eager to get back into the mountains for a Colorado high elevation hike. James Peak was an easy choice for a Sunday morning hike; it's close to the Denver area and the route takes you to the top of a Glacier and then across a lush, high elevation prairie before starting the summit to the peak. This trail is particularly beautiful in mid July when the wildflowers are at their peak blooming season, plus the glacier and snow makes the hike a little cooler in the summer Colorado heat.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Road Trip: Day 6; Hiking trails at the Great River Bluffs State Park, Minnesota

There is just one word to use when describing the hiking trails that I will always remember when I think back about Minnesota; mosquitoes! The swarms of mosquitoes along the hiking trails were the worst that I have ever experienced in my life. We had planned on spending the morning hiking on the 7+ miles of trails throughout the park before finishing off our weeklong road trip and heading back to Denver, but the bugs put a halt in those plans. We woke up at 7am and I was ready to check out the bluffs and Mississippi River Valley. The park provides a well marked trail system with maps at the ranger station and several maps along the trails.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Road Trip Day 5; Great River Bluffs State Park and Campground on the Mississippi River, MN

It was day number 5 of our camping trip through northern Michigan, but that meant it was time to start driving west and head for home. We had one more night to camp somewhere and chose to camp along the Mississippi River in Minnesota at the Great River Bluffs State Park. This park was about 8 hours from our campsite in the Upper Peninsula, but due to the time change, we gained an hour of daylight making it to the campground at 6:30pm on Friday night.
The ranger was very pleasant and allowed us to drive through the campground before paying to choose our site and make sure this was where we wanted to stay.   I wish she would have mentioned the mosquitoes, however, and little did we know that our great campsite was going to turn into a painful experience. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Road Trip Day 4; Fayette State Park, UP, Michigan.

We had planned on staying at the JW Wells State Park camground along the peninsula near the Wisconsin border.  Fortunately, we had the foresight to call the campground, something we never do, and found out it was closed until July 11th, 2010, due to flooding.  This put a wrench in our plans and we decided at the last minute to drive to Fayette State Park, it was 20 miles out of our way along a peninsula past the tiny town of Garden, Michigan.  
We had checked out Indian Lake State Park Campground on our way which was very crowded; and we chose Fayette SP on a whim; boy we were glad we did!  The State Park is located next to an old iron smelting town of Fayette which is now deserted.  The Michigan Parks System cleaned up the area in 2006 and now it is part of the historic state park and campground.  The huge buildings next to Lake Michigan near the cliffs are a photographers dream and I snapped numerous shots which still didn’t capture its true beauty.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Road Trip Day 4; Switchback Ridge Scenic Foot Trail, Brevort Michigan, Upper Peninsula

I was eager to get some hiking in this day because we were on a beautiful lake, with dunes and forest all around us. Fortunately, the campground we happened upon also had a great hiking trail called the Switchback Ridge Scenic Foot Trail. This trail continued for at least 5 miles around Little Brevort Lake. We hiked 1.2 miles from our campground to the South Unit campground, which was closed down, on the other side of Little Brevort Lake and then back following the same trail. Along the way we hiked in thick, wet, forests, sunny sand dunes and up and down hills through the woods.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Road Trip Day 3; Little Brevoort Lake Campground, North Unit, Brevort Michigan, Upper Peninsula.

Night three of our camping road trip was spent west of St. Ignace about 20 miles outside of the small 'town' of Brevort on Little Brevoort Lake.  The campground is a primitive, self check-in campground in a dense pine forest beside Brevoort Lake in the Hiawatha National Forest. 
It was Wednesday evening and the campground had only 4 other occupants when we drove in at 8pm; we picked out a site far from the other campers with views of Little Brevoort Lake through the trees. The campground cost just $15 and offers a boat launch which attracts people for its fishing, pit toilets, nature watching, fresh water and a trailhead for hiking and biking. Even though we did not swim, the water was warm and fairly sandy near the picnic area; had it been a warmer day and there were less bugs, we would have jumped right in! Site numbers 9, 10, 11 have the best views of the lake, with some sites viewing the lake through the trees. All of the sites offer ample privacy.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Road Trip; Day 1-2, Muskegon State Park, Michigan, hiking trails

Muskegon State park was our first stop in our weeklong road trip and it offered the best sandy beaches and most hiking trails that we came across on our journey. Muskegon State Park is located on the beach of Lake Michigan just west of Muskegon and it offers over 14 miles of trails to hike. The entrance fee to use the park for the day and to hike is $6, or you can buy an annual pass for $24 Request a map of trails when paying for your pass and choose your pleasure, hiking through the woods, in the sand on the dunes or along the lakeshore. One of the trails even leads to a lookout point above a scenic lake.

Getting there; from Muskegon Michigan head north to North Muskegon along Lakeshore Drive to the park. Or use the address to find your personal directions: 3560 Memorial Drive, North Muskegon, 49445. Click here for park website or here for additional map information.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Road Trip Day 1-2; Muskegon State Park, Lake Michigan Campground, MI

My husband Josh and I, with our two dogs, drove home to Michigan for my one-and-only sister’s wedding over the 4th of July weekend; then after the festivities ended for the weekend with one family they began with another. Josh’s family was camping at Muskegon State Park which is in the western part of the state, on Lake Michigan. This started our weeklong camping trip and we left the family behind after Muskegon to head north through the Upper Peninsula camping for two nights, then through Wisconsin into Minnesota to camp on the Mississippi River before heading back home to Golden, Colorado.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Indian Peak Wilderness, Jenny Creek Trail

It has been way too long since I have posted a hiking blog!  All of my other crafting duties have taken me away from my first love which is hiking.  I was so excited to get into the mountains and hike on Tuesday that I left my map and directions at home.  So, I ended up hiking at the Eldora Ski Resort on the Jenny Creek Trail.   There is parking and a sign for this trail just before the main entrance of the ski resort which starts at 9200 feet.  The trail winds up the mountain on the dirt road through the ski resort, eventually the trail will take you past the resort into the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  The views along the way are priceless and there are lots of wildflowers and places to stop and sit and take in the views. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Harmonica Arch, Lost Creek Wilderness, Colorado

Harmonica Arch is a large rock arch located in Lost Creek Wilderness which is a part of Pike National Forest. If you have never been to the Lost Creek Wilderness you are definitely missing out! This is one of the most unique and stunning national forests that I have been to; with huge boulders, odd rock formations, and a lush undergrowth full of wildflowers and bright green grass.  It encompasses 120,000 acreas west of Colorado Springs with over 130 miles of hiking trails.  Lost Creek earned it's name from the river's numerous disappearances into underground caves and large rock formations, only to reappear further downstream. 

There is not much literature about Harmonica Arch and how to hike there, and it would, in fact, be very difficult to find without these directions along the way to reach the arch.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lower Maxwell Falls in Evergreen, Colorado

Springtime in Colorado is the best time of the year to see the rushing rivers and waterfalls running high from the mountain runoff.  One of the best places to hike while walking beside a rushing river to view some falls is the Maxwell Trailhead in Evergreen Colorado.  The trail takes you through a typical foothills evergreen forest that makes for shady hiking on a hot day, often Maxwell Creek runs beside the trail, other times the river is just a distant sound in the valley below.  
The trail provides some views of the surrounding mountains when a clearing permits, but mostly the lure of this trail are the large Maxwell falls and river beside the trail.  A popular trail for dog owners; this trail was busy with dogs and their owners when I hiked on a beautiful Saturday over Memorial Day weekend.  There are also other trails which intersect the Maxwell falls trail that you can take instead of hiking through the forest.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Table Mountain, Golden Colorado

If you live in or have frequented Golden, Colorado, you would have noticed South Table Mountain one of the mountain peaks on the north side of town.  South Table mountain is funded by the Jefferson County Open Space and nearly the entire mountain is open for public use with numerous trails and routes to the top.  More information is available on the Jefferson County Open Space site here.  South Table Mountain is located just south of Coors which lies in the valley dividing North and South Table Mountains; there is additional hiking on North table Mountain found here.  
The best time to hike table mountain is during the springtime; the bright spring colors and wildflowers are in full bloom and the mountainside looks striking.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hiking in Clear Creek Canyon, Hwy 6

Jefferson County Open Space is developing  new trails in Clear Creek Canyon along highway 6, west of Golden.  I love driving up Clear Creek Canyon, with it's steep cliffs alongside the rushing river.   The Open Space trail has no name, map or bathrooms, just a parking lot and a trail.   
I have hiked here before in this blog post, but couldn't go as far as I wanted due to thunderstorms rolling in.  Since I had to turn back on the hike, I have always wanted to know what was on the other side of the mountain.  My grandmother used to sing a song to me when I was little that I was reminded of; "the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain to see what he could see, to see what he could see.  But all that he did see was the other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain was all that he did see."  And that is all that I saw; but it was still a great hike.   

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A day in the park; Morrison Park

Sometimes a day in the park is just what you need to get outside in the sun.   Laying in the grass and watching the clouds, running around with the dogs, climbing trees and walking throug the town of Morrison for ice cream cap off a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. 
Josh and I had been hunting for some trails to the south of Morrison, but instead of finding trails we found this park.  The Morrison Park is a Jefferson County funded park next to Bear Creek, it has several picnic tables, a volleyball court, and the park connects to the Bear Creek paved trail that goes through Morrison Colorado and connects to other paved trails in the area.  

Friday, April 16, 2010

Royal Arch in Boulder Colorado

Did you know there is a huge rock arch formation in Boulder, Colorado; similar to the arches found in Utah? 
This huge rock formation is worth the long steep hike to reach it for the incredible views of Boulder and the Flatiron Mountains. 

The warm spring air makes me very excited to wake up early, get out the door and on the trail!  For all the hikes I have done in this state, Boulder is one place that I have not hiked very much.  This is mostly due to the crowded trails, but they are crowded for a reason; the Flatiron Mountains are amazingly beautiful and unique.  Boulder is also very dog friendly and has unique leash laws that allow dogs to be offleash on certain trails if you register your dog with a voice and sight tag.  More information on this can be found here.   The trail starts at the Chautauqua Trailhead in Boulder. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Zapata Falls, Frozen Glacial Waterfall and a walk on a frozen river.

Zapata Falls is a glacial waterfall in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that freezes in the wintertime and thaws in the summertime; making it a tourist destination year round.   We visited the falls this past weekend while it was still cold and frozen.  The falls are located in a cave and to reach the cave, visitors must traverse walking on a frozen river and climbing over a smaller frozen waterfall.   When we reached the river; we were shocked to see so many people struggling to climb over a 4 foot waterfall that was very slick.  After watching everyone else for some time, I began to wonder if I could make it up myself, it was very slippery and cracking my head on the ice was not part of the plan this vacation.  Crampons would have been very helpful for this climb!  We managed to find a divot in the ice that we were able to use as a handhold to pull ourselves up.  Once higher up on the river, you can walk into the cave with Zapata falls; it's well worth the struggle. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hiking to the top of the highest Dune in North America

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Monument is located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range in southern Colorado.   Over the long weekend, Josh and I visited the park and climbed to the tallest dune in North America, High Dune.  
Behind the dunes are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains which tower over the 8500+ foot dunes, making them look tiny in comparison.   The entire Rocky Mountain Range was under a high wind warning that whole weekend, making hiking on mounds of sand pretty painful, but we had come all the way down here to the dunes and we were reaching the top!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Views of Red Rocks Ampitheatre hiking Morrison Peak 7,877 feet

I have lived on the front range for over 7 years and just 10 minutes from Red Rocks and Mount Morrison which can be seen towering above the front range.  But I never realized you could hike to the peak until recently.   After doing some reasearch, I found out that there were several routes to the summit, and I decided to do the longest route, the southern route. 
This route to the top which takes you up the southern ridgeline of Mount Morrison with views of the front range, Denver, and Red Rocks Ampitheatre below.  From the top of the mountain you can see all the way from Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs to Longs Peak in Estes Park!  Wow!   The dogs and I saw several deer who watched us intently while we hiked past them. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flying J Ranch Open Space Park; a short hike after a road closure stopped me in my tracks.

I woke up this morning ready to hike a bigger mountain; it was a sunny day, the snow had melted, and I was ready to climb! 
Rosedale Peak is a 13,000 foot peak in the foothills just about an hour from my home.  After checking online, I thought I could make it up the dirt road to access the trailhead at this time of the season.  After an hour drive in clear blue skies with huge peaks all around me, I arrived on the final road to my destination.  The road was closed just 100 yards from the main road and the trailhead was 3 miles farther west up the road.  At this point I decided to park my truck on the side of the road and hike up; it was still a beautiful, secluded and a pretty road.  So I loaded up my gear with two very excited dogs ready to hike, and then sadly realized that I had forgotten one major thing, my hat!  There is no way that I could hike at 10,000 feet without a hat in 35 degree weather.  Disappointed, I went back to my truck after hiking just 400 yards and knowing for sure it was too windy and cold to go on without a hat.  I decided to drive about 30 minutes back east and hike outside the town of Aspen Park, at the Flying J Ranch, the only Open Space Park in Jefferson County that I have never visited before.  

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mud-fest through Roxborough State Park to Carpenter Peak 7,160 feet.

Spring is here, until the next snowstorm, but today was definitely "shorts" wearing weather and I loved it!
I decided to hike Roxborough State Park which is southwest of Denver on this beautiful sunny 60 degree day in March. Roxborough is a state park which does not allow any dogs, so I have never hiked here before because of this. But my dog Rock has a sprained ankle and needs to take it easy for a week, so it was my chance to hike at Roxborough without feeling bad about leaving the dogs.
I can't believe I have lived so close to this State Park and not visited before, the giant red rocks, bowls and rims in the foothills and lots of foliage makes this park a photographers dream.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Squaw Mountain, 11,486 ft Arapaho National Forest

Squaw Mountain has been on my hiking "to do" list since hiking Chief Mountain, a peak nearby, a couple of months ago.   The views on the top of this 11,486 foot peak are beautiful, but as we descended the peak shortly before sunset, the peaceful sound of silence was shattered by loud gunfire.  Yes, gunfire. 
We first arrived at the trailhead which is located at the intersection of Squaw Mountain road and a forest road after about 35 minutes in the car.  I tried to drive up the forest road a little bit and immediately got our SUV stuck in the deep snow on the side of the road.  We spent a half an hour shoveling it out before we could start hiking.  Fortunately, I was not alone on this hike or I would have had a really hard time getting the truck out myself.   Josh and my cousin Patrick Rainey plus the two dogs were all eager to hike.   

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A sunny, spring hike on Saddleback Mountain Peak, 9,568 feet

March has rolled in like a lamb, here in Colorado.  After a cold and snowy February; March has brought sunshine, warmer temperatures, and the smell of springtime to the Front Range.  This warm weather really motivates me to get outside and hike; it also gets me excited about hiking 14ers this summer!   
Yesterday, I hiked Saddleback Mountain which is a little known trailhead in the Clear Creek Open Space that takes you to the peak at 9,568 feet.   The total hike was just over 3 miles round trip and took just an hour and a half to complete. There are no facilities or map at the trailhead, just a small parking lot and Clear Creek Open space sign.