Saturday, February 26, 2011

ROAD TRIP: Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge; Melbourne Beach, Florida

Pelican Island; the first wildlife refuge in the United States
My grandparents have been spending their winters in Melbourne Beach, Florida; a barrier island off the eastern coast of Florida, since the 1980s.  The area was suggested to them by my other grandmother, Mary, who lived in Melbourne Beach and ran a small motel when my mom was a child.  And as a kid, my family would come down to Florida most winters to get away from the freezing cold in Michigan, but since Josh and I moved to Colorado 8 years ago, we haven't visited the Sunshine State. 
One of the first things that I noticed about Melbourne Beach, that probably wouldn't have occurred to me in my youth, is that the island has numerous parks and trails for hiking, biking and wildlife viewing.  So, I was really glad that my Aunt Chris and Uncle Rob asked if Josh and I wanted to go check out Pelican Island and take a hike, or we could go to Ron Jon's Surf Shop, they added.  Josh and I both echoed 'hike' and we were on our way.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apex Trail; a great place to hike or bike near the metro area

Start of Apex Trail
Apex Park is one of the more popular trails in Jefferson County Open Space; the park is open to hiking, biking and equestrian riding.  If you avoid Apex because of the crowds you are not alone, because of the crowding and different speeds in which people use the trail; Jeffco put in place an odd-day directional traffic for bikers in several areas along the trails.   They also created a new trail along the front/east side of the mountain.  You can check out the new changes here.  I have hiked at Apex several times since the changes, and it makes the hiking experience a lot more fun, and much safer too!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fairmount Trail from Golden to Arvada; a great way to commute on foot!

Muddy and flat gravel trail, but it wasn't icy
After starting a hike at Mount Galbraith only to turn around shortly after icy trail conditions stopped me in my tracks.  Since the dogs and I hiked only a short time on the Cedar Gulch Trail, I decided to find another place to hike nearby. 
The dogs and I got back to the car and drove out of the canyon; I decided to turn left or north toward Boulder on 93.  Then I made a right turn at the light 58th street and started hunting for a trail.  I passed an entrance to one of the neighborhoods and noticed a trail, but decided to keep going on 58th.  After a couple of minutes I came across a trail directly across the road; I made a U-turn and parked in a small dirt space beside the road.  Again, I heard the happy whines of two doggies ready to get outside and hike, although this trail is more of a stroll than a mountainous hike, but it wasn't icy and that was good enough for me!  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mount Galbraith Park, Jefferson County Open Space; A short hike on an icy trail

Icy trail at Mount Galbraith
One of my favorite Jefferson County Open Space Parks is Mount Galbraith for several reasons; great views, this is a hiker only trail so it's less crowded without bikers/equestrian riders, and I always find an abundance of wildflowers here in the spring to photograph.  Plus, Mount Galbraith is one of the first trails my husband and I hiked when we first moved to Colorado over 8 years ago and whenever I step on the trail I think of how excited I was when we first did this so many years ago. 
It had been a long time since I did the 4.2 mile loop here and I was excited to hit the trail, but it didn't take long to realize that the trail was really icy and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to hike the loop with the slick conditions, but I kept pushing forward.  After about 400 yards up the mountain I came across a group of hikers who were coming down; they all had crampons and hiking poles in both hands.  They said it was really icy the farther up the trail went, and crampons were a needed; they also questioned if my dogs could handle the hike, which I thought was odd.  The dogs are way better on the ice than I am, and surely they both could hike days longer than me. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Belmar Park, Lakewood Colorado; A great place to walk the dogs!

One of the lakes at Belmar Park
The warm weather this week has made it almost irresistible to not go outside and enjoy it!  But with severe cold temps, a significant amount of snow and now bright sun during the day and cold temperatures at night make for some muddy and icy trail conditions.  To keep yourself safe from falls on the ice, it's a great time to explore your local parks and trails in the metro area.  Belmar Park offers over 4 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and equestrian riders that wind around Kountze Lake over several hundred acres of land between Alameda and Mississippi near Wadsworth St. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Paracord Survival Belts at

Paracord survival belt, find them for sale here.
While I started this blog to be about hiking, I wanted it to encompass everything about hiking, including gear.  One thing that I am very passionate about is supporting independent artists and small businesses providing great products  made locally rather than running to get the cheapest item at Walmart.  Over the years I have shared my favorite gear that I take when I hike, including handmade items for the trail made locally or by myself.  Now, I am very excited to offer these survival belts on my website; they are made by a small company in Kalispell, Montana and are both useful and stylish; very Colorado!  The belts are made from 80+ yards of woven paracord that can unravel in seconds for use in any survival situation; you can also use the metal pieces of the belt.  Now, maybe you are like me and are thinking; 'if I use the belt once then its unraveled and gone.'  Fortunately, Survivor Geek will remake the belt at no charge if you share your story with them; and if you want to take it apart 'just because,' then they will remake it for half the amount of the belt. 

Road Trip: Bahia Honda State Park; one of the best beaches in the United States

When we knew we were visiting the Keys, I had to find the best beach for us to do some snorkeling.  Bahia Honda State Park boasts one of the best beaches in the country; and has miles of sandy beach (don't be shy with the sea wall) and teal blue water for miles.   Josh and I only had 4 days in the Keys, so we spent every minute doing something fun; and one whole day was dedicated to swimming and hiking in two of the Keys State Parks located near to our resort.  After spending the morning and afternoon nature viewing and hiking in Long Key State Park, we were eager to cool off with a swim and we drove the 30 miles (which takes 45 minutes on the 2 lane road) to Bahia Honda State Park. 

Camping on the Coast; Long Key State Park, Florida Keys

Raised campsites along boardwalk near Golden Orb Trail
I had the pleasure to visit the Florida Keys last week and get out of the miserable cold that blasted into Colorado, while Josh and I were there, we visited two State Parks for hiking and snorkeling.  Both of these parks offered camping, which we were excited to check out for a future road trip with our little Chalet
Long Key State Park has two separate camping areas; one specifically for tent camping that has raised decking to deter snakes from coming into the campsite.  These sites are widely spaced; there is a shower and water and a grill nearby along the boardwalk, and the sites are within a few yards of the beach but there is a lot of foliage that obstructs the view. 

Road Trip; Long Key State Park, Florida Keys

Views on the small beach in Long Key State Park
While Colorado reached nearly record low temperatures and a -45 wind chill; I had the pleasure of being in the Florida Keys.  The freezing weather just happened to come when we were enjoying our planned trip in the 80 degree sunshine, and it made the warmth that much better. 
The Florida Keys offer numerous state parks with hiking paths, camping, beaches, snorkeling, kayaking, paved biking trails, picnic areas and much more.  Long Key SP just happened to be 3/4 of a mile from our hotel, so we decided to check it out and we were so glad we did!  The SP has only a couple of miles of hiking trails, but they continue through three different plant communities that are very unique and so different from Colorado that we spent lots of time enjoying the animals, foliage, and water.