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Sunday, April 2, 2023

Bear Peak

Surprise, surprise - we went hiking this weekend. But that's not actually a surprise if you know anything about us. With crazy winds in the high mountains (like last weekend), we opted to stay lower so we wouldn't freeze from the windchill. We ended up hiking in Boulder, which was still windy, but with mid-60s temperatures where the wind was refreshing.

The hike we chose, Bear Peak, was a tough hike that packed almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain in just a couple of miles. The steep section of the trail was facing North, which meant incredibly icy scrambling adding to the challenge. But we came prepared with our microspikes, unlike many hikers that we saw along the way. Considering the difficulty, the trail was fairly busy with many people on the trail. Typically we hike to get away from people, and usually, a difficult hike guarantees it, but not in Boulder with how accessible this trail is.

We haven't done a lot of hiking in Boulder because parking is always terrible. It's a city where everyone hikes, which means that parking lots fill up very quickly. Additionally, Boulder has a lot of paid parking lots for hiking which I'm not against, but they're doing it wrong. Some parking lots are a set fee, but most of them don't accept electronic forms of payment which neither Katie nor I carry (get with the times, Boulder...). Other parking lots are by the hour, which is not helpful for hiking since we never know how long a hike will last... But that's why we picked a hike that starts at NCAR which has a massive parking lot that's free for hikers. I've never seen that parking lot more than half-full, making it a stress-free choice to start a hike from.

This hike earned us a new achievement - the most elevation gain we've done together. We made our New Year's Resolution based on beating our all-time hiking stats for distance, time, and elevation gain by 15%. Our goal for elevation gain is set at 2,997ft for the year, but this hike fell short by just 103 feet, with an elevation gain of 2,874 feet. Of the 3 stats we have to beat, elevation gain will be the easiest, so I'm not too bummed about nearly beating that goal on this hike.

Bear PeakNebel HornIndian PeaksSummit PanoramaKatie and LongsBoulderLongs Peak

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Lake Agnes

We've been up to Lake Agnes once before while camping in State Forest State Park. During that visit, it was in the middle of summer and it was packed with people because of how easy it is (if you start from the summer parking lot). Since we haven't been up to the Cameron's Peak area in a while, let alone State Forest State Park, we decided that would be the destination for this week's hike. Since this is early spring, the views were the same but completely different.

This weekend's weather turned out to be perfect for hiking - mid 40's and sunny with little wind (only a gust here and there). That might not sound that warm, but it is, and we haven't had a hike where the weather cooperates that well in a while. We started the hike from the winter lot - which was literally just a pull-off from Highway 14. We thought we would be able to drive into State Forest State Park a little to get to the actual winter lot but the entire road was closed. Even starting from further back, the hike only ended up being a little over 5 miles. The worst part was the 200 feet of ascent on the way back up to the parking lot, which by the time we were doing that we were completely exhausted.

Once we made it off the road and onto the start of the trail we lost the trail quickly. We aren't quite sure how it happened, but the error resulted in us going up an incredibly steep ascent to find the trail. That steepness wasn't too dangerous because it was West-facing, but there was some level of avalanche risk in trying to get back on the trail. We were surprised that there wasn't an obvious trail made. Since this is a popular summer hike, we figured there would have been a few more people on the trail and a well-defined trail. But we didn't see anyone else on our hike, except for some skiers in the distance at the lake itself. Besides having to break trail for some steep sections, I prefer it this way and it was a fun adventure trying to find the real trail.

One of the cooler things about this hike is that Lake Agnes has an island in the middle. When we were there over the summer we thought about swimming across - but even in the July heat, this is still a freezing cold alpine lake. But in April, the lake is completely frozen, so I decided to simply walk to the island. I tried to get up to the top but quickly abandoned that idea after I made a few steps where I sank down to my waist and had a difficult time recovering. The island was unfortunately not stable enough to summit with several feet of loosely packed snow on it - one misstep could have had me buried. But I can now say I've made it to the island on Lake Agnes, something that I'm sure many people can't say they've done.

CraigsLooking BackBraddock PeakAwesome Lunch SpotOn the LakeIceNorth Diamond Peak

Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Start of Wildflower Season

This weekend we didn't venture too far from home. With Katie recovering from COVID we decided to take it easy by hiking Arthur's Rock. It was a bonus that we got in without having to pay because of the Keep Colorado Wild pass that's tied to Katie's car registration. We got to the trailhead around 11 thinking parking might be tricky and hoping to snag an early-riser parking spot that was finishing their morning activity. But we didn't need to worry, there were plenty of parking spots left when we got there. In fact, the parking lot was full when we finished our hike so we ended up being the "early risers" taking up all the parking spots for the afternoon hikers.

The weather was great considering that the past few days it was raining and there's rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future. 50 degrees and just a slight breeze that we could have done without, but other than that it was a completely perfect hike. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground covering some wildflowers that we didn't see until our hike back after the snow melted. We're both excited for wildflower season, and it's just around the corner!

Cold in the ShadeHorsetoothTinyBeginning to Look Like SpringAbout to Bloom

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Twin Sisters

Hiking Twin Sistes in Rocky Mountain National Park has been on our hike list for a while now. Since our hike last weekend was easy, we wanted to do something a little more challenging to get us back into and keep us in shape. Twin Sisters was the perfect hike for that with 7.5 miles in distance and a whopping 2,500 feet of elevation gain. We knew going into this that it wouldn't be easy, but with its proximity to Longs Peak and Meeker and being above Treeline, we knew it would give fantastic views. And it did. Longs and Meeker are such impressive mountains, and summiting Twin Sisters gave us an unobstructed panoramic view of that pair of mountains

The hike started out at 9:30 in the morning when we got to a nearly-filled parking lot. It was clear to us when we started the hike that this was an early-riser type of hike with many people descending as we ascended, which wasn't what we were expecting. Since it's not summer temperatures yet, most people wait until later morning to start a hike to take advantage of warmer hiking temperatures. But with the temperatures forecasted to hit the mid-60s in Estes Park, I guess enough people wanted to summit early. But not us, our summit ended up being right around noon. It was too windy at the summit for us to eat lunch up there, but we only had to hike back a couple of hundred feet to find a nice calm spot to eat.

OpeningMummy RangeAbove TreelineSummit PanoramaSummited

April 2023

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