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.