Sunday, August 27, 2017

Treasurevault Mountain

A week ago Saturday, Sue and I and Grizz climbed Treasurevault Mountain in the Mosquito Range.  This was my highest peak since we move to CO, at 
13,701 feet.  We got to take the Truck this time (Irv2) because we had to drive some dirt roads to get to the trailhead.  Irv2 gets pretty happy when we take him on dirt roads, and it was a lot more fun when I decided to stop and let some air out of the tires so we weren't getting so beat up by the rocks.  How's this for a trailhead view... (remember, make the pictures big, they're better that way)

The hike follows a 4-wheel drive road until it reaches a lake, but we didn't feel like bouncing along at a slower-than-walking pace, so we left Irv2 at the trailhead.  Good call too, the walk was great.  There's that altitude thing, though.  We were soon in the "where did all the air go" zone, but were inspired by Grizz's enthusiasm.  Notice the clumps of bushes in the next picture...Grizz was CHASING BIRDS from clump to clump.  He was having a blast!

We were headed to the peak that is second from the left, with the snow on it's left flank.  First, however, as is often the case in the mountains, the lake.

Ok, so the plan was to hike to that low point on the ridge that is almost in the center of the picture.  This is one of those ridges that doesn't look very far away, and then you get closer and it looks further away, and then you get closer an it looks further get the picture.  Not too steep, but this is at altitude (have I mentioned that I LOVE altitude?), and we were feeling it somewhat.

Our walking took us, not to the low point in the saddle...the snow there turned out to be a wall, so we bent left toward the shoulder of the peak.  Then it got steep.  Steep, at altitude, such a wonderfully humbling combination.  So, I took off my pride, tossed it over my shoulder, and watched it roll away down the slope.  Then I took 50 steps and stopped to breathe.  Then 50 more.  Then 50 more.  While I was 50-stepping, this was my view:

And 50 steps by 50 steps, we made the peak in less time than I though we would.  (Thanks to Irv Nielson for teaching me that one.)  Here's the Peak, with a lovely mountain nymph for added beauty!!

Again the views were stunning, 14ers to the south, 

That's Democrat, Bross, Lincoln, and the other one I can't remember.  Oh, did I mention that we had the peak, and the trail, TO OURSELVES....ON A SATURDAY!!!  13ers ROCK (pun very much intended).  We got to slide down some snow on the far side of the peak, because, if you know Sue, we HAD to do at least a bit of a loop (no out and back on the same trail if we can help it).  On the way down the tundra was really beautiful.  Look at this color pallette...

We passed another high lake...(our peak in the back, with snow on the left)

and then found a cool snow overhang.  I couldn't help crawling in...

After the overhang we ambled back down the trail, through this:

...and ended up back at the Truck.  Humbled by altitude, humbled by the beauty, thrilled by the glee with which Grizz flew across the tundra in his bird-chasing bliss, grateful for strong bodies and a Heavenly Father that designed such a beautiful world.  I LOVE living here!!

James Peak

I'm a terribly inconsistent blogger.  Well, so deal with it.  I'm back, at least for now.  Sue and I had a great adventure two weeks ago to James Peak (13,301) in the James Peak Wilderness.  We were dodging bad weather in the Springs, and there was the promise of better weather in the mountains (not the norm) so we headed up really early on a flex Friday (my extra day off).  As a bonus, the newlyweds Kate and Christian wanted to join us on the last day of their honeymoon.  What great kids!  We started at St. Mary's Lake, which has a great view of St. Mary's Glacier, which we would later walk up (and get a major sunburn on my face because my hat does not protect my face from sunlight coming UP from the ground).

(These pictures don't look so great really small, so click on them and make them big.  Then they're much better!)

Here are the happy newlyweds, with the lake kindly providing backdrop.

So we walked up the glacier, with Grizz running back and forth between us, and we were pretty spread out.

After the Glacier, you can just see our destination in the distance.  It looks like not so far away, but I learned later that the trail goes around the whole thing and up the BACK side!

We got closer, duh, and really the trail was lovely...rocky but lovely and not very steep.  Everyone was in great spirits and the day, as you can see, was gorgeous!

So we made our way around the left side of this massif, and came to a really cool overlook...This is the lower lake (check out that view in the distance)

...and the upper lake...there were waterfalls all over the place beneath this upper lake, and I loved the sound of the running water!

So, up around the back side we went.  Oh, did you notice those black clouds in the last picture?  They hailed on us for about 5 minutes, small, sneet-like hail, and then went away.  It was beautiful to watch the veils of hail wash over that lower lake.  Notice the REALLY BIG rock cairn.  This alpine tundra is a favorite place for Sue and me; we just love being up here.  It is quiet and peaceful and has a quality that words can't completely capture.  By this time the altitude was wearing on us.  It used to hit me around 13,000 feet, but now it seems to come on between 12,000 and 12,500.  As my Dad would say, that has nothing to do with age, just that I haven't been doing this as much as I used to.  Thanks Dad!

And we made the peak.  Not terribly dramatic in and of itself, but look at that view to the West!!!!  This is our playground...can you believe it?!  Come and play with us!

We had lunch on the peak, hung out behind a short rock wall to avoid the wind, and enjoyed being Rocky Mountain High!  We didn't have a "pie" to pass around (:-)), but that would have been a good idea. (Extra points if you comment about that reference.)

We had a lovely walk down, the kind where you're not at all in a hurry, and don't want the day to end.  We stopped at the lake on the way down and Grizz got to play fetch with a stick in the water.  He loves to swim.  But he was tired.  Running back and forth between us the whole time, he probably did the hike the equivalent of 4 times.  We went down the canyon and had dinner in a creek-side restaurant in Georgetown (not the DC one, thank goodness), and Grizz got to come onto the patio with us.  It was a great end to a wonderful day!!

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!