Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Falcon Trail

Ok, I've decided to start training in earnest for the summer hiking season.  I have this spritely wife who I have a hard time keeping up with, and I need to up my game.  So, where to start?  Distance, that's where.  I still believe in LSD (no, not that LSD), I'm talking Long Slow Distance, the thing I used to do when I ran ultras.  Running no more, am I, but hiking I can do.  So there's this jewel in the Colorado Springs area called the Falcon Trail.  13.1 miles around the Air Force Academy.  It has hills (duh, Colorado!) and streams and grassy meadows and trees and solitude.  So, having not walked further than about 4 miles in over a year, I decided to hike the Falcon Trail.  If you're going to do it, why not overdo it?  Sue is out of town so I had no one to keep up with but myself, so off I went yesterday morning.

Now isn't that lovely?  10 minutes from my house, and you could be anywhere in the backcountry.

Out of the trees and it opens up across a meadow, 

And soon passes by this restored settler's cabin.

Here's me.  My hat is not on backwards because I'm cool or rad (I'm old), it's because the wind was gusting up to about 50mph and this was the only way I could keep the hat on my head.  Sometimes a gust would hit me and almost stop me in my tracks, but I'd just chuckle and try to keep going.  Things were better in the trees.

This lovely stream was in the trees, with ice on the edges from last week's very cold days.

Up in the higher parts of the trail it opens up again with great views of the Rampart Range.  That's the back side of Eagle Peak in the distance.  Year's ago in this spot we watched our dog Mica levitate out of the tall grass when he heard a rattlesnake.  Smart dog.

This is about my favorite spot on the whole trail.  Can you believe this is 5 minutes from where I work!?  What a treasure!

So, I made the whole 13 miles.  It was pretty great when I turned downhill AND had the wind at my back.  Smooth sailing!  I was encouraged that at the end I was tired, but still had a spring in my step and NOTHING HURT.  For me, that's a coup.  My summer hiking season is looking better and better!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Spruce Mountain

We had a great hike last Saturday at Spruce Mountain. -22 wind chill and snowing when we started, but we were determined!

We believe ther is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear!   The woods were beautiful.

It was Grizz' first time to hike with booties, but he figured out pretty fast that they really help. 

We had a great mid hike break with hot herb tea. 

And the views at the top were awesome!

I love it when its cold enough to frost my eyebrows and freeze my eyelashes together. 

Sue and Grizz were pretty tired afterward, but it was a great snowy hike!,

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In Utah, on vacation.

Here we are on vacation in Utah, enjoying the lovely late summer at our cabin, the Lerfa Lodge.  The cabin is in good shape, and the meadow we have for a front yard looks healthy.  Its taken 25 years to get it that way, but its doing really well.  We have new fir trees coming up all over, and the Aspens are healthy and filling in the gaps where we cut down so many dead trees.  Its beautiful!

Bryce came up to see us on Monday evening, and on Tuesday he took us on a really lovely hike to Long Lake and Island Lake.  About 7 miles total, and really beautiful the entire way.  It was perfect weather, and the woodland fairy creatures were happy and smiling!

To add to the hiking pleasure, the berries were out!  Here's the crew engrossed in picking Huckleberries...that's right, Huckleberries!  They were really small but ripe and delicious.

And I just couldn't pass up these gorgeous currant bushes without stopping.  They were wonderful, and beautiful to boot.

This area is surrounded by several peaks...that's Long lake in the background, with my favorite hiking people in the foreground!

All along the way the tall grass kept catching my eye, very lovely and waving gently in the breeze.  Moose was having a great time, and he kept checking on me to make sure I was still there.

So we got to Island lake with thunder sounding beyond the far ridge...that was really cool as it echoed around the peaks.  It was like someone hitting a metal 50 gallon drum.

My fishing excursion was cut short when I realized that a when you have a 4-piece fly rod, you really need all 4 pieces to make it work.  Somehow I had left one piece behind, but no matter, we sat down for a snack and soon......

We got a lovely rain storm that turned to hail!  We sheltered under a tree which kept most of the rain and hail off of us, and the sounds and the smells and the coolness were terrific.  Moose didn't mind any of this, and went out and barked to ward off whatever beastie he had smelled in the forest.

Moose loves the water......

Then the storm passed and the ground drank up the water and we had a sunny, pleasant walk out.  This is Long lake again, with these cool glacier-smoothed rock we got to walk on.  Some of them were polished shiny like the hood of a car!

It was a really lovely day!  We took our time, sat and enjoyed our surroundings and had a wonderful time together.  The best part about the day was the company....I love these people!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fun (finally) in Colorado!

As my friend James says, I've been spending my weekends enjoying the "joys of home ownership".  Not this weekend, however, we decided to get out and play!  I started doing CrossFit workouts again this week, and my 56 year old body is wondering what hit it, but never mind that, I'm in charge here! So on Friday, the glorious flex day off, we slept late (yahoo!!!!) and then climbed Eagle peak.  That's a steep rough trail but not very long and it has this beautiful aspen grove half way up.

 And it was Moose's first time on this peak, so he got in the selfie...

...and we hung out by the creek on the way down....

It was one of those perfect weather days that's just cloudy enough and just sunny enough.  It feels really good to climb, and Sue and I both are getting better at it.  Moose, on the other hand, with his youth and raging male hormones, never seems to get very tired, at least not for more than about 15 minutes!  He's turning out to be a great hiking companion, but at 70 pounds and 7 months, he's likely going to be a big one.

After recovering by eating Pasties (Scandinavian meat pies), we got up Saturday morning for our first mountain bike ride of the season.  We headed out the the Greenland open space and it was glorious!

 Great rolling single-track trails, hardly any people, a few nice horses, and some runners and wonderful vistas.  It felt like we had the area to ourselves, and this place is only 15 minutes from our house!  We love living in Colorado!  The place had one long hill (Reptillicus hill from the BLLLLBR comes to mind), but we made it and the downhill on the other side was a blast!  It was another perfect weather day after several weeks of rain and thunderstorms.  The wildflowers were amazing!  We saw big stands of waist-high pearly-white scarlet gilia (it wasn't red) and tall grasses and penstemon.  The company was awesome too....I love living in Colorado with my best friend ever!

After the ride we hit the local farmer's market ( I love saying that, "local" farmer's market, CAUSE I LIVE HERE and I'm a local now!!!!)  OK, I got carried away there, but I'm allowed.  Green beans and a falafel is very, very good.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Back (Home) again!

I've decided to come back to my blog because Colorado is such a great place and I'm going to keep track of my adventures here.  On Friday I was at work looking out my window at the mountains and it hit me....I need to be there!  So I decided to get up early Saturday morning and do a hike.  Then I realized that I could hike to Stanley Reservoir and hike and fish (with my new fly rod) both!  Great plan!  Sue is out of town or I would have taken her with me.

I woke up to a cloudy sky, more accurately it felt like I was in a cloud, but I trusted my weather app and set out anyway.  This is what it looked like when I left my truck at the trailhead:

But, in about 100 yards my faith paid off:

SUNSHINE!!  We haven't had a lot of that around here recently, but I'm grateful for all the rain because it means a better summer.  This is a beautiful hike, but the first mile (of 2) is VERY steep, kind of a hard way to get started but its worth it.

The hike was lovely and cool, but I started to wonder if I was going to be able to get past the waterfall, which is usually pretty tame.  It was running high, but thanks to my hiking poles and my super great Keen hiking boots (product placement!) I got by just fine.

Next along the trail is one of my favorite places in the world.  I've been to this spot with my friends, my kids, my wife.  It is most lovely in the fall when the aspens are in their glory.  It may not look like much, but when I step into this meadow I forget my cares and my heart soars!

Next is the lake, which sits in a lovely spot and you'd think you were so far away from the world.  I had the place all to myself.  My son-in-law-Stephen was supposed to be with me, but he chose the better part and was with his family (he's leaving on a business trip on Monday).  Good call Stephen, but I missed you.

I recently bought a fly rod, because for many years I have wanted to learn to fly fish when I moved back to the mountains.  So here I am, and thanks to the really nice guy at Bass Pro Shops, I had the basic flys and how to fish them.  The Olive Wollybugger was knocking them dead!  My casting wasn't so great, but I was catching fish (catch and release) and having a blast.  I even successfully did some roll casts right next to some trees and caught a fish there too!
Before I left I had to take the iconic fly fishing picture.  There should be a wicker creel in there, but I don't have one!

The hike down was equally lovely (and lots easier).  What a jewel this place is, 15 minutes from my house and up in the mountains I love.  If Sue had been home she would have enjoyed fresh trout for lunch!

So I'm back blogging, so give me your comments, and look for me on Facebook...I'm coming back to that too!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

All In!

Sue had the week planned.  New appliances on Thursday, household goods delivery on Friday, and Christmas lights hanging on Saturday (before it snowed and we couldn't get on the roof anymore)(a tangent…in Alaska we'd hang our Christmas lights on Labor Day weekend, because that was the last date that we could be pretty sure there wouldn't  be snow on our houses.  We turned them on Thanksgiving weekend.)

Anyway, the household goods delivery was delayed by a day until saturday, so Sue resigned herself to just a few lights in the windows this year.  But no, April and Stephen to the rescue.  They had been planning to come and help us on moving day anyway, and they said that the lights would get hung.  So, as the boxes came off the truck, Sue waited anxiously for any box that said "Christmas decorations" on it, and she immediately tore into it.  After a few…Eureka!  She found the lights.  April took over my job checking off the inventory and Stephen and I got up on the roof to hang precariously over the edge of the second story roof to hang lights.  My neighbor, Toni, looked up at one point while I was on the edge of the roof and said, "Now Mark, don't fall off.  That roof has a history of people falling off of it."  I told her that she could have waited about an hour to tell me that!  We both had a good laugh, and she said she was praying for me. By the time that was done, I had paperwork to do, so Stephen took care of the lower level roof himself.  We had fun!  When the movers left at about 2pm, we finished up, and by dark we had a house full of boxes and wonderful Christmas decorations on the outside.  (Just so you know, the purple/green tree in front is not Sue's fault.  We originally bought green lights for it, but didn't get enough.  When I went back to Home Depot to get more I found out that Green is sold out across the universe!  So I chose purple to finish the tree, just because.  I love it!)

So, thanks to Arpin Van Lines we have our stuff, and thanks to Stephen and April our home is beautifully decorated for Christmas!  An Honorable Mention to Sarah, who unpacked our Kitchen!  Thanks kids, it was a great day with you!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More House photos

Renel asked for these, and I'm not one to deny my sister!

This is the front of the house...every time I look at it it looks more like a mansion to me!

Standing in the dining room looking at the living room and front door...

The family room from different angles...its open to the kitchen but Sue didn't take any kitchen pictures...

Our neato stairs...

The "loft" which is kinda like a library with built in shelves...I'm thinking it would be a great place to play guitar!

and a couple of shots of our small but lovely back yard.  Sue has many plans to improve it with more plants between the rocks, a few burning bushes and probably a Japanese maple, but we have Aspens!!!  I might remove the concrete pad and build a nice redwood deck instead.

We hopefully close tomorrow!!!!!