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Saturday, August 6, 2022

Hiking into Rocky Mountain National Park

I guess we didn't endure enough pain from pushing ourselves to the limits on our last hike since this weekend we decided to set a record for the longest distance that we've ever done together. We were in a much better mindset for this hike since we went into it knowing that it would be around 9 miles and 1,800 feet of elevation gain, and I think that made the hike easier in some ways, but we were still completely exhausted and dead by the end of the 4-and-a-half hour hike. Considering this hike was just a little bit longer in distance but just a little bit less elevation gain (1,800ft versus 2,000 feet), I'm pretty proud that we shaved off an hour of hiking from the hike to Diamond Lake.

On the hike up, the highlight was definitely seeing several moose. I saw 3 moose on this hike, first a cow and a baby, and then later a bull moose. Katie saw a fourth moose, a cow, but it ran behind some trees before I could see it. This brings my year-to-date moose sighting to 7 (up 350% from last year!) with plenty of time for us to spot some more before the end of the year. We came around a corner with a bull moose dangerously a few hundred feet up the mountain from us, and Katie didn't even see it. I managed to tell her to stop while I got a few shots of the bull moose's head before it started wandering off. That bull moose definitely didn't like that we were there, but it's lucky for us that he wasn't feeling aggressive and instead wandered into a denser area of trees. I wasn't sure we would see any moose on this hike since the hike started so late in the morning, around 10 am, and moose tend to be out early during the times of cooler weather. But luckily for us, since this hike started at 10,000 feet, it was a cool 60 degrees when we started the hike and it only rose about 10 degrees during the entire hike. That 10 degree differential was enough for no moose to be out on our return back from our summit, but we got to see some which is more than I could have asked for.

Once we got above the treeline - about half way up to the summit - the chance of seeing moose drastically decreased. Shortly after hiking above the tree line, we made it to the first small lake, Michigan Lake (not to be confused with Lake Michigan which is easily 10,000 times larger than the Michigan Lake we came across). At the lake, we forked towards Thunder Pass with the alternative route to continue on to Snow Lake. With the sun pretty high in the sky, the views at Snow Lake would have been washed out, and the reviews of Thunder Pass included panoramic views that we wanted to see. Thunder Pass is the border between State Forest State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, so once we got to the pass the views opened up and we could see a great deal more looking South into Rocky Mountain National Park. There was a sign marking the boundary, and we crossed over to the Rocky Mountain National Park side to be able to say that we were in Rocky Mountain National Park without paying any fees or having a timed entry permit (although that's not 100% true since it was a $9 fee to get into State Forest State Park). The panoramic views were exceptional and we knew we made the right choice by going to Thunder Pass instead of Snow Lake.

On the way back we humored ourselves that we could do the quick hike to Snow Lake. That idea was quickly squashed when we had to go up a very slight incline that wasn't more than 20 feet of ascent. With our muscles protesting, we knew we should head back. Maybe someday we'll get a double-digit (10+ miles) hike in. We were only 3/4 mile from achieving that today, but we'll save that record for another hike.

First OpeningMama MooseGrazingHiddenPosedMichigan RiverBullThrough the TreesDark CloudsEverything In one ShotMt. RichthofenMichigan LakeRMNPSummitedNokhu CragsTall and CloseOrange on the RocksSummit KissThunder MountainOne Last Panorama

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Triangle Mountain

We have been on a roll for doing challenging hikes, and our plans for this weekend were no different. We had our first double-digit mileage hike planned up near Camerons Peak, but after doing a quick weather check before heading out we realized that there were life-threatening flood warnings issued in that area for the early afternoon. Deciding that was a little too risky, we decided to pivot and hike Triangle Mountain which has always been daunting for us. Triangle Mountain is a daunting hike because of how steep it is. It's only 3 miles round trip, but in the 1.5 miles to the summit, there is almost 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Even though the area that this hike was in was also supposed to get some afternoon thunderstorms, it was a lot less risky because we would have never been too far from the car and because it's less than an hour drive to get to the hike. Because the hike was so short and it was quick to drive to, we were back home before noon - something that's never happened before.

Looking back on it, this isn't the steepest hike that we've done, so I'm not sure why it's been so daunting to us. This hike has almost the exact same steepness as Green mountain, around 400 vertical feet per mile, which we hiked in the winter (which is more difficult to hike because of the danger of slipping). I've also done 3 other hikes that were steeper than this, Lilly Mountain with 443 vertical feet per mile, and then of course the two 14'ers that I've done are at the top of the list with averages of 840 vertical feet per mile for Mt. Sherman, and 550 vertical feet per mile for Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross

This still proved to be a really challenging hike, despite it only taking a little over two hours to complete. We're not used to such steepness in our hikes and that made it a little bit unpleasant. We also weren't very high up (around 9,000 feet) so it was a little warmer than I would have liked it to be. There were some great views of the surrounding mountains, but with the sun pretty high in the sky most of the mountains were washed out. We've been hiking in such nice alpine areas lately that these views just didn't do it for us. But overall it was nice to get out and get some exercise, even if it's not a hike that we would probably do again.

The best part of this hike was that we were completely alone. Every other hike I've done there has been at least one other group of people on the trail at some point, but today we had Triangle Mountain all to ourselves. It's not a very popular hike because of the steepness and short distance, but I would have thought we would see at least one other group at some point because of how close it is to Loveland. But I won't complain about that, having a trail all to yourself is a pretty special treat, one I've been chasing for quite some time that I'm now glad to have accomplished.

Meeker and LongsNo ShadeSummitedWashed OutDunraven Glade RoadOverlooking the Burn AreaJacob

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Mestaa'ehehe Mountain

We had a pretty busy weekend between going to yoga on Saturday morning, Participating in breaking a world record, Cirque Du Soleil on Saturday afternoon, this hike on Sunday morning/afternoon, and then engagement photos on Sunday evening. However, we still wanted to get out of the house to enjoy the mountains. Because we had lots of things going on, we picked a pretty quick hike that was supposed to be a little over 4 miles but ended up being just over 3. Mestaa'ehehe Mountain is in the I-70 corridor, a place we haven't hiked before. Just outside of Idaho Springs in the Mount Evans Wilderness area, Mestaa'ehehe Mountain has a fire tower at the top that people can rent out. No one was in the fire tower when we summited, but we were able to get up on the observation deck which was pretty neat. A little bit to the North from the fire tower there are some large cellphone towers and another area that we hiked to in order to get panoramic views looking North towards the Indian Peaks mountain range.

The hike was different than the typical hikes we've been doing. We usually don't venture this far South for hiking, and because of that, the mountain range was a little different than what we're used to. The most notable difference is that the Mount Evans area has much denser and taller trees. I'm guessing that area is a little bit older and hasn't been burned by a forest fire in quite some time (maybe because of people on watch at the Mestaa'ehehe fire tower), but it was interesting to hike in a different area of Colorado.

From the Observation DeckDense TreesFire TowerChief MountainLongs and Meeker

August 2022

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