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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Lake Katherine

For the Fourth of July weekend, Katie and I decided to head up to the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Katie got the two days leading up to the weekend off and I took vacation time from work so that we could beat the crowds to camping and head out on Thursday. We picked this location because it was pretty far away (so there was a good chance of little people, even for a holiday weekend), and because there was no fire ban in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest until starting July third. Since we were getting up there on the second and coming back on the fourth, this at least let us set up a campfire for one of the two nights we were camping. All the other forests and dispersed camping areas already had fire bans in place, so we figured this was the best that we could do. This area did not disappoint. Getting there on Thursday we were the only ones camping off the side of the road.

We got a lazy and late start to leave for camping. We left Fort Collins a little after noon and got to the campsite around 3. It took us an hour to set up camp and then we decided to do our first hike. It was a pretty late hike to get going in the afternoon, but since we didn't have anywhere to be or anything that needed to get done, we figured why not go hiking?

The hike wasn't all that difficult but did have quite a bit of elevation - 1,000 feet - in just 2.6 miles one way. The hike took up almost 2 hours and thirty minutes, although we went off trail at the lake to try and make it to a better location to take photos. We only encountered a few people along the way - There were a few people fishing on the river and we saw two groups of backpackers heading up to the lake to set up camp.

GreenMerging StreamsFlowingClear WaterDying PineFishing on the RiverLake KatherineCold WaterBlue Water

Friday, July 3, 2020

Bighorn Lake

Bighorn Lake was a tough challenge. Having hiked a moderately difficult hike the day prior, plus poorly sleeping from camping, I'm quite impressed that we made it to another alpine lake that was even further and higher than the hike prior. But we had all day to accomplish it, so we took our time. 5 and a half hours to be more precise. considering we've done similar length and elevation hikes in about 3 and a half hours show how lazy we were on this 8.5 mile and 1,400-foot elevation hike. Our first main break was where the river that runs off of Lake Katherine meets the Lone Pine Creek. We encountered this one the day before since Lake Katherine and the Bighorn Lake trailhead start at the same place, so we knew this would be a great resting point which was less than a mile and a half into the hike. We took off our boots and stuck our feet int he freezing cold water. The lakes are at 10,000 feet, so the water is quite cold since it's from snowmelt (yes, even in July). We didn't have our toes in the water for long, but we did eat some cookies and relax for about 20 minutes before proceeding down the new path that we hadn't been on to get to Bighorn Lake.

We got completely lost on this hike. But we weren't concerned since my watch tracks our location and since Katie had a map downloaded to her cell phone and she had GPS signal. We were trying to follow the phone map, but the map wasn't quite up to date and we headed down what looked like a legitimate path, which quickly turned into a deer trail, and then eventually nothing. We knew the trail followed the river for a little bit, so we followed the river and eventually caught up to the trail. I will say the path we took seemed less steep even though we didn't go too much farther in distance. So maybe getting lost was a good thing?

When we made it to the lake, we were the only ones there. We sat and ate some lunch and relaxed while looking over the lake. It was beautiful, and being alone made it all that much more peaceful. We proceeded to try and make it to the far point on the lake. We stopped on the shore by a rock that was perfectly shaped like a recliner where we sat for a little longer until we weren't alone on the lake anymore and another group of hikers had summited. We proceeded to the far end of the lake which was spectacular and worth the trouble of crossing over an almost-waterfall to get to a glacier-looking area that we walked onto. The snow gave a blueish hue to the lake that was almost surreal.

Just another 500 feet above a steep rock face was the continental divide which was a crazy thing to stop and think about - the snow we had been standing on and all the snow we could see still on the peaks around us would fall into this lake and end up on the East side of the country.

Quiet MorningMorning FrostReflectiveMount ZirkelTwisted Hollow TrunkHiking Buddy in the CornerLog BridgeBighorn LakeReclinier RockSmall GlacierSnowy

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Stone Mountain

Since it's been 3 weeks since our last hiking adventure, Katie and I ventured into the woods. We picked a pretty close hike that was only thirty minutes away from our house because the weather wasn't supposed to be great anywhere, so we figured the closer it the trailhead is the earlier we can get started. Because of this, it was pretty low in elevation, starting a little over 5,000 feet. Since we didn't get somewhere higher or further in the mountains, we didn't escape the city heat very much, but that was okay since it only got in the upper 70's and stayed overcast for the majority of the hike. It even started sprinkling a little bit during the hike which was refreshing.

Katie was pretty tired and only made it about halfway before deciding to turn around at wait in the car, so for the last 2.5 miles of the hike up and entire way down I was hiking by myself. Her hike was about 4 miles and 1,000 feet in elevation gain, mine ended up being 8 and a half miles and 2,300 feet in elevation gain. It took me 2 hours longer than Katie for a total hike time just under 4 hours.

Compared to some of the other hikes we've done, this one wasn't all that memorable - the views at the top were okay, and there's weren't many spots that overlooked the trail. The trail is also pretty close to the road for the first several miles, so you don't really feel like you escaped civilization. The summit was a little bit of a scramble to get all the way to the top (hence why it's called Stone Mountain) which was a little bit of fun.

SwitchbackExhaustedFake SmileInto the MountainsPurpleSummit PanoramaHiking LogStone Mountain

July 2020

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