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.