Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review of Cloud Rest Base Layer Top from Mountain Mama, Expecting Adventure

Several weeks ago I was given the opportunity to test out and review two items from one of my favorite maternity/nursing clothing companies, Mountain Mama Expecting Adventure. 
(let me set the record straight, I am not pregnant) 
Its been so warm in Colorado, and their Base Layer Top is so snuggly, that I haven't had the chance to properly hike in it, until our trip to Monument, Colorado last weekend. 

Several years ago I found Mountain Mama clothing on facebook and loved their style!  I wish that I could find non-maternity clothing this well made and comfortable, so I was super excited when they asked for ambassadors to try out both maternity AND nursing clothing and I was one of the few chosen to review.  Hurray for me! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Coyote Ridge Natural Area, Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado

Guest post from fellow blogger and father, Andy Hawbaker, you can check out his site here and more information at the bottom of this post.   

Coyote Ridge Natural Area is a wonderful spot for a fun family hike. My kids enjoyed seeing a snake, prairie dogs, and lots of birds. The Natural area is a City of Fort Collins Open Space located between Fort Collins and Loveland about 1 mile south of the Larimer County land fill. Visit the Larimer County Site for information about this trail.
This particular open space does not allow dogs and I have seen Fort Collins police ticketing people with dogs, so please leave the four legged ones at home.

Monday, October 15, 2012

My favorite Colorado hiking trails; need a hike suggestion?

Mt. Sniktau, Continental Divide
Lately I've been asked by several readers and a few hikers on the trail about which hike is my favorite and I'm always stumped by this question because I love so many trails for different reasons.  Some hikes I love because of the trail itself, maybe the scenery is great, or the hike ends in an awesome peak, lake, waterfall, arch or view that leaves me amazed.  Other hikes are memorable because of the way that I felt on the trail, maybe it was just a great day overall, or the hike was difficult and I felt accomplished when I completed it. 
After much thought on my part, I have included some of my favorite hikes and trails, they are my favorites for various reasons as well.  
The first trail I'd like to include (in no particular order) is Mt. Sniktau, which starts on the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass near the Eisenhower Tunnel.   This trail is at high elevation, starting at the top of the pass and my reason for listing this trail as one of my favorites is twofold.  First, I love looking at views while on the trail and I'd rather hike where I can see scenery than in a treed forest any-day.  Mt. Sniktau offers views in all directions including great views the Continental Divide; its also a high altitude hike which leads to a peak and when I reach a peak I always feel a sense of accomplishment.  But the reason that this trail stands out to me was because I was just having a great day on the trail. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hiking a social trail in Coal Creek Canyon - Boulder Colorado

 The Flatirons are some of the most well known mountains visually, on the Front Range of the Rockies here in Boulder; the flat rock faces reflect the sunlight in the morning which creates a stunning glow and they are full of wildlife, scenic views, steep climbs and even an arch!  Today I stumbled across a trail that took me through a burn area on the southern end of the Flatirons near Coal Creek Canyon.  Before you read on, I must first say this trail was not marked and I just happened across it; there is no map or parking lot, I just stopped on the side of the road, parked and hiked.  As far as I could tell, the trail was on Open Space land and it lead to the train tracks that you can see from Hwy 93.  After hiking through the burn area, then up a steep hill and down toward the train tracks, then the path continued on a service road beside the railroad.   Eventually the road crossed over the tracks and at this point we turned around and went back.   I wondered if the trail was a social trail to get to the train tracks, for photos maybe?  Or maybe that is just my guess, because I love photography.  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Upper Maxwell Falls, Hiking in Evergreen Colorado

 The lower Maxwell Falls trailhead is one of the most popular on my website and I wanted to put up another post about it, this time I went to the Upper Maxwell Falls instead of the Lower Falls as I hiked here.  I actually hiked this trail mid-September, but am just now posting about it, the little lady keeps me so busy these days! 
 It took me about 10 minutes longer to reach the Upper Parking lot, there were 2 other cars in the small parking lot when I arrived on a cloudy weekday afternoon.  It took me a while to get Magnolia situated in her pack, and then we hit the trail.  Immediately, I was faced with 2 trails from the parking lot, since there is no formal map, I just chose left and started walking.  The trail is wide and continued through the forest and next to the stream.  Eventually the trail comes to another trail split, there is a trail sign here (although it was knocked down), and you could take the trail left and up to the Cliffs Loop or down/right toward the falls.  I decided that I wanted to check out both the Cliffs Loop (since I was not familiar with it at all) and the falls, so Magnolia and I took the Cliffs trail up for about 20 minutes and shortly after the split the trail continues out of the woods and you have views of the surrounding mountains which were full of fall color!   We hiked on this until we reached another trail split; I wasn't sure which way to go, and so we turned around to go back to Maxwell Falls.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pence Park, Hiking in Kittridge Colorado -- Where does this trail go?

Pence Park is not a well known park within the Denver Mountain Park System, but it connects to the Bear Creek Trail and is often used by mountain bikers now that the trail system connects from Pence Park to Lair O' The Bear, approximately 12 miles, the trail continues through Corwina Park as well, making it a shorter hike/bike if desired.  
I arrived at the park back in July when I first hiked this trail with Magnolia, the parking lot was empty and we went the opposite direction of the Lair O' The Bear Trail, it took us up into the woods and the trail was quite steep.  At one point it became so very steep that I decided it wasn't the safest idea carrying Magnolia on the front of me in the Ergo, so we turned around, went back to the parking lot and hiked down the Lair O' The Bear trail (another post on that hike to come).  I decided to go back to Pence Park with my husband because I just needed to know where the trail went!  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Getting out of the house, a Green Mountain Hike

Today is a day that I feel more like a mother than anything else.  A mama who is trying to work from home, part-time, while taking care of a very high energy baby who demands my time and protests loudly when she doesn't get what she wants.  Its hard.  I struggle.  
This week has been particularly hard, you can read more about that here if you'd like, but Magnolia is cutting a couple of teeth and when she is in pain, she just screams constantly despite whatever I try to do to give her relief.  Today, after a morning full of no naps and cranky-ness, I decided we needed to get out of the house; I grabbed the ergo and filled my camelback with some water and we jumped in the car to go to Green Mountain to find a trail.  
I had planned on hiking at a different trail, one that you can find on my blog here, but I missed my turn and ended up at the same trail that I hiked just days before Magnolia was born last November.  
When we first started hiking, Magnolia was very happy and we happily walked along, talked about the trees and birds, and she babbled about how much teething really hurts.  Of course, the happy mood didn't last long and soon she was fussing and squirming in the carrier, which quickly escalated into screaming.  We stopped and had a snack, which helped some, but eventually I had to put her back in the carrier so that we could hike back to the car.  She fussed and babbled throughout the hike back and even though her mood didn't really change, mine did.  I was able to get outside, do something that I like, and teach my child a little bit about nature in the process.   

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gary R. McDonnell Park, Lakewood Colorado, Playground with lots more

I've been visiting more parks than I normally would, now that Magnolia is here and at that age where she enjoys the playground a lot.  I grew up in Michigan, and there weren't any playgrounds near our house, you just had a swingset in your yard; and here in Colorado there is so much public space to enjoy and I would have loved this when I was a child.   However, I did have an amazing tree swing that my dad built, but no slide, rock wall, tree house, and more.   This park is well hidden from the road and probably wouldn't be found by someone who didn't know it was there.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hiking at Diamond Lake Trailhead, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Eldora Colorado

Buy this as an art print here
This weekend I really wanted to get out into the mountains with Josh, Magnolia and the dogs to see the fall colors, and I decided that we should hike the Diamond Lake trailhead outside of Eldora, Colorado.  This was a trail that Josh had mentioned he'd like to hike after I had hiked it solo back in 2010, you can see the report here.  At that time I hiked all the way to Diamond Lake and beyond.    Yesterday however, we only made it to the large falls with our whole family of hikers, baby and dogs, also both Josh and I have been feeling under the weather and that was plenty far enough for us on this day.  Even with only going about 2-3 miles round trip, the hike still took over 3 hours, we did stop often so that I could take pictures, we hiked slowly because we had Rock with us, our 14 year old dog, and Magnolia was pretty squirmy, so it we often had to attend to her needs.  We managed to loose another pacifier on the trail, but otherwise had a great afternoon.  The trailhead parking lot was completely packed and the trail was very busy.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Box Canyon Trail, Vedauwoo Wyoming, Rock Climbing and Scrambling

I'm still trying to catch up from two weekends at Vedauwoo, Wyoming in the Medicine Bow Mountains between Laramie and Cheyenne off I-80; there were tons of trails to write about and great camping too.  Check out my previous posts about the Turtle Rock trail here and the Vedauwoo campground here.  When hiking the Turtle Rock Trail a few weeks ago, we mistakenly thought it would take us to the top of the rock formations, however, the Box Canyon Trail does continue up the rock formations and we spent the day climbing, scrambling and hiking up the amazing and unique rock formations.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Turtle Rock Trail at Vedauwoo, Medicine Bow Mountains, Wyoming

When we go camping, one of the things that I always look for in a campground is if there are hiking trails nearby.  Vedauwoo doesn't disappoint in that department!  The Turtle Rock Trail, which is the most popular in the area, encircles the large Turtle Rock formation, and there are numerous other trails within the area as well.  We opted to hike the Turtle Rock trail because there was a way to pick it up from the campground and because I thought it would take us to the top of the rock formation.  How wrong I was!  We actually came across some other hikers on the trail who asked us if that trail continued up the rocks and I said that we had hoped the same thing, but since we had both done half of the trail we realized it did not.  And after looking online after the hike, we realized that it was pretty obvious that it did not continue up the rocks when we were given a map by one of the park rangers.   Here is a great map of the trail and area.  We still had a great hike even though it didn't go as planned. Click here for my post on the Box Canyon trail which does continue up the rocks. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Vedauwoo Campground, Buford Wyoming - Finally, some summer camping!

We haven't camped all summer; which is crazy for our family because we love it so much, but July was packed with things to do each weekend and when August rolled around and my 33rd birthday; Josh asked what I wanted to do and I replied "go camping!"
Since this was our first camping trip with Magnolia, we wanted to stay in a campground for conveniences like use of port-o-pots and running water and we  wanted to camp somewhere that it didn't get super cold at night, which meant not camping at 10,000 feet in Guanalla Pass, it meant finding somewhere new.  I can get easily overwhelmed with all the places to choose from while searching online and can spend hours looking at one place after another.  But I don't have time to be indecisive anymore, Magnolia keeps me very busy, so I asked for some suggestions from friends.  My friend Suzy from Hip Mountain Mama (an amazing family owned shop) suggested that we check out Vedauwoo in Buford, Wyoming (pronounced Vee-da-voo); they often frequent the campground and have a great time with their kids.  She sent me her photo album with amazing shots of huge rock formations and big sky; I took one look and decided Vedauwoo was the place to go!  The one thing that I liked about this campground was that every review I found online remarked that each site had lots of privacy from the next and there are views from every site.  Privacy is the main reason we don't often choose campgrounds, we enjoy being far away from everyone, but Vedauwoo provided the best of both worlds; a port-o-pot and running water, combined with secluded sites and great views plus a trailhead which you can pick up from the campground.   All of this meant, staying put and enjoying the weekend hiking, camping and checking out the great views and big sky.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sunset Park and Bellows Park, Lakewood Colorado - take a walk in the park

Now that my days are occupied with Magnolia and I can't just (as quickly) jump into the car and go to a trail, so I often try to find parks to walk in.  I can take our Bob Stroller, which will cover most terrain that any of the parks in the city can dish out and we hit the pavement/dirt/concrete!  
Last week, I decided to load up the stroller and drive to Bellows Park, a place that I noticed a few times while driving.  I wasn't sure of the size of the park, but figured that it would be at least an hour of walking and if worse came to worse I could just walk the stroller into one of the nearby neighborhoods for a stroll down the street.  However, I ended up finding that Bellows Park is a pretty neat little place, and it connects to another Lakewood Park called Sunset Park which is significantly larger and offered more walking trails and a playground.  

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Meyer Ranch, a great getaway from the heat!

I've hiked at Meyer Ranch numerous times over the years, but when I went to search for it on my own blog I was shocked to see that I had never done a blog post about it before.  Meyer Ranch is a great place to get out of the heat in the city, the trail is a shaded pine forest and the hike is a gradual incline up the mountainside.  
A new friend that I recently met asked if I wanted to hike, so I suggested Meyer Ranch, easy, shaded and out of the city. We were on the trail before 11:00am, hiked up the Lodgepole Loop out to the neighborhood access, then back down the loop to the picnic tables for some lunch.  I carried Magnolia in the Eddie Bauer hiking pack gifted to us by my friend Christina; and it felt pretty good, although a lot of the weight was carried in my hips and I still have some adjusting to do on the pack. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Minton Park Cemetery Trail, Empire Colorado hiking

Empire Colorado is one of my favorite towns on the Front Range; its at the heart of the Rocky Mountains and the gateway to Berthoud Pass with Clear Creek River running through it.  Last weekend I wanted to try a hike with Josh and the dogs someplace new, farther into the mountains to get away from the 100 degree heat in the city!  I also wanted to test out the second of two hiking packs that we were given by friends now that Magnolia fits into this one.  I tried out the first pack by myself at the Centennial Cone trail but it bothered my shoulders, and this second one that I wanted to try with Josh around so that he could help me adjust it while I was wearing it.  This pack is an Eddie Bauer pack, and I was hopeful that it would work for me after trying on every single pack at REI and not finding one that fit me comfortably.  Even with the staff helping me to find the best fit, none were quite right.  I guess that's a downfall of being petite.  
I was pleasantly surprised that after several adjustments with the Eddie Bauer pack, that it ended up feeling pretty good, not great, but I could get used to it and this trail starting at Minton Park in Empire Colorado happened to be a great trail to test out the pack on.  The hike was easy with scenic views of the river and surrounding mountains and no other hikers to speak of, probably because its more of a local walking trail than a hike. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Denver Mountain Parks, hike in Morrison Colorado with Yeti Sighting!

Yes, a Yeti sighting!  
Our friends recently moved into the foothills outside of Morrison, Colorado and found this trail last summer.  I had been meaning to hike on it numerous times, but just never got around to it until now.   
I hiked this trail with Laura her daughter Amelia, who is the exact same age as my daughter Magnolia, who was also in attendance.  On our way back down the trail, we came across this scary creature (in photo to left) and it stopped us in our tracks!  The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I was pretty sure we were seeing something crazy, a small bigfoot perhaps or a bear in a tree?  We stood there, it stood there...then Laura said that she didn't think it looked like any of the primates she saw at the zoo the day prior and it wasn't moving, so she ventured forward.  I was still a little tentative, and decided to hang back with the camera to take some pictures, ha!  As we got closer, we got braver, it got smaller and it still wasn't moving and I said "its a fake bigfoot" and indeed, it was.  There was a tube with paper for your signature attached to the tree that said 'Yeti Registry' and I actually remember seeing the tube as we passed it on the way up the mountain, but the Yeti was out of site from that direction unless you looked back on the trail and I just ignored the tube because Magnolia was fussing.  There are more photos of this farther down in my trip report.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Baw Beese Walking Trail, Hillsdale Michigan - part of the North Country Trail

Road trip!  We spent half of June in Michigan to spend some quality time with our families and introducing Magnolia to her extended family who hasn't seen her yet.  During this time I was itching to get out on a trail for some hiking and one of our friends suggested the Baw Beese walking trail, which connects to the North Country trail which is a huge trail that spans 4600 miles in 7 states from New York through Minnesota.  There is a section of the North Country Trail which is around Baw Beese Lake and I was glad to hike on such a cool trail which was so close to my mother in law's house.  I wondered why my husband never rode his bike farther on the trail, but he didn't really get into hiking until we moved to Colorado 10 years ago.  
With the entire family in tow, we loaded up the stroller with water and started out of the house.  It was at least 1 mile before we reached the paved trail and started down the path.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Corwina Park and the Panorama Point Trail

As an avid hiker, especially along the Front Range, I expect that I know a lot of the hiking trails in the area and when one is brought to my attention that I haven't hiked, well I just need to go hike it! 
Since having Magnolia, I have become familiar with some local mama's hiking groups, but I only recently decided to do a hike with the Colorado Mountain Mama's group.  We had a great time on the trail at Lookout Mountain and I checked their schedule to see when we could hike again and came across the Corwina Park hike.  Unfortunately, Magnolia and I weren't able to hike with the Colorado Mountain Mama's group that day, but we hiked it as a family over the weekend.  The hike was perfect, a beautiful trail with scenic views, a pine forest to keep you shady, a stream that the dogs were able to drink from (for part of the trail) and tons of wildflowers along the way!  The trail is part of the Denver Mountain Parks System and the trail is actually the Corwina - O'Fallon Trail. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Alderfer Three Sisters Park and Open Space, Evergreen Colorado

Hiking with a baby is part of our lifestyle now, and I am constantly trying to find a good hike that I haven't blogged about or visited lately, which is not too difficult making it comfortable to carry Magnolia.  This weekend we visited Alderfer Three Sisters, a park that I have frequented many times, but oddly, had never blogged about.  This park has over 10 miles of trails, some in the pine forest and others with views of the surrounding foothills but the park is most popular for its rock formations.  The formations are named the Three Sisters and The Brother.  This weekend we hiked the Sisters Loop and then continued along the Ponderosa Trail back to the car.  In total we hiked 2.5 miles and it took us about 1.5 -2 hours of moderately slow hiking with a few stops along the way to nurse the baby, take photos and to let the dogs sniff around.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lookout Mountain, Boettcher Mansion; a snowy hike on a sunny January day

Clearly, I didn't hike this trail very recently; it was actually hiked in January 2012, but as a busy mama with a 2 month old baby, I didn't get a chance to blog about it until now.  But, its worth the write-up, so here it is!  The trailhead starts at the Boettcher Mansion and Nature Center on the top of Lookout Mountain; which is worth the visit even if you don't like to hike.  The mansion was built as a summer home in 1917 by a prominent business man Charles Boettcher and the property was donated to the Jefferson County Open Space in the late 60s.  Its a beautiful, rustic property on the top of the mountain and is a great place to visit in the springtime with all the wildflowers in the area. 
Lookout Mountain offers a great number of trails and several places to park to pick up these trails.  We decided to hike here because it got us up into the mountains, a little bit, and it's a trail that I hadn't hiked before. 
It was a bright and sunny day in Golden as we drove up Lookout Mountain, and we quickly realized that there would be deep snow along the trail and I hoped it wouldn't be too much of an inconvenience for my sister and brother in law, who didn't bring their hiking boots to Colorado this trip.  However, they braved the snow, and we saw some elk, so it was worth the wet feet and knee deep snow drifts. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Centennial Cone Park; back to hiking and blogging!

I've taken quite a hiatus from blogging and I miss it terribly.  The past 6 months have been the busiest of my life; my husband and I welcomed a baby girl to our family in November, Magnolia Gwen.  She is a fun, feisty little girl and we have hiked several times since her arrival but I just haven't had the time to write!  Because my time is more limited, my trail reviews are going to be a little shorter; the same great information and directions, with less text and more beautiful photos.  Some of the hikes might be repeats from earlier in the blog, but hiking with a child presents a whole new set of challenges; I am not able to hike as long and I have to be flexible regarding her mood, but it feels great to get outside and share my love of the trail with her.  I'd love to hear from other hiking families out there regarding which pack you use, or how you handle the trail with kids?  Please leave a comment!