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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Raining Hike in Estes Park

It's been a long time since we had gotten outside and hiked anything, so this weekend we attempted a 7.5 mile hike to get to Pierson mountain. There were some storms in the skies but nothing on the radar looked too threatening. We started hiking and immediately got poured on in the first third mile of the hike. So we went back to the car and waited for the storm to pass. At that point, we weren't really up to finish that hike so we decided to forget about that idea and do something else a little easier instead. We headed over to the area that we hiked the last time we were in the mountains to go on a slightly different trail. When we did Panorama Peak in May, we intended to go over to the Notch, but didn't end up missing the turn to get there. So today we decided that going to the Notch would be a really nice easy hike after our rainy failure at Pierson Mountain.

It ended up raining on us again as we were hiking to the Notch, but it was a pretty light rain and we were able to stand under a tree and get good shelter for the 5 minutes that we had to wait for the storm to pass. The hike itself was under 4 miles and took us an hour and a half, including a pretty lengthy rest at the notch while we waited for some clouds to pass over the sun to get better photos.

Green GrassWithering ColumbineSulphurflower BuckwheatAt the Notch

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Accidental Hike Towards Stormy Peaks

We went into Pingree Park this weekend to hike the B-17 crash site hike where a B-17 plane crashed in 1944 killing 4 of the 10 person crew. I've been wanting to hike this area for a while, but the distance to get there has always been a deterrent since it takes almost 2 hours to get to Pingree Park. It's not that Pingree Park is that far away from our home, but the drive has a 20 miles stretch of unpaved road that you can't drive very fast on. I've never been to the Pingree Park area, again because of the drive time, but I'm happy to have gotten to finally explore this area. The Cameron's Peak fire almost went through Pingree Park last year. But in this area, the fire seemed to skip certain patches of trees and obliterate others which made for a fascinatingly sad but colorful hillside.

We got to the trailhead and at the fork about a half-mile in, we went the wrong direction and never made it to the B-17 crash site. Instead, we were headed towards Stormy Peaks. Once we realized that we were headed on the wrong path it was too late to fix our mistake, we decided to hike about the same distance we were originally planning on doing and call it good. It started to rain on us during the last half-mile of the hike on the way back to the car, so it's good that we turned around when we did and didn't try and go further on the Stormy Peaks trail. But let's be honest, we would have never made it all 6 miles one way and 3,500 feet in elevation to the Stormy Peaks summit anyway. It wasn't raining hard at the end, but a little more than comfortable rain while hiking. We saw several people hiking up while we were heading down, and with Stormy Peaks above the tree line, I hope they didn't get caught in a storm.

After about 2.5 miles we passed an amazing overlook. We stopped to take some photos and continued on, but didn't make it much further. At the 3-mile mark, we turned around and stopped at the same overlook to eat our lunch. The view was gorgeous and stunning in a breathtaking and sad way because of the burn scars on the mountainside. Because Pingree Park is home to the CSU Mountain campus and many other buildings, the firefighters fought pretty hard to keep the Cameron's Peak fire from engulfing the area. They did succeed in this area, but the fire got very close which is evident in the photos where the green trees quickly turn black.

Our hike ended up being just over 6 miles and 1100ft of elevation gain which took us 3 hours to complete.

Getting CloudyColumbineBurn ScarsLunch SpotFly AgaricWild MushroomFireweedMulti-Level PrimroseUprooted

Friday, July 23, 2021

State Forest State Park Camping

We went up into the mountains this weekend for some camping. Katie wanted to camp in State Forest State Park because that area has one of the largest populations of moose in Colorado. So this year's camping trip we were focused on wildlife and we saw more than we thought we would! In total, we saw one moose very close up (safely from the car), several foxes (including one that visited our camp both nights trying to steal food), a pika with its mouth full of food for the winter, and a wild porcupine.

On the first day, we got to the campground and made our camp and went for a quick "hike" on the Mountain View Nature Trail. This wasn't much of a hike since it was barely a mile, but we were in the middle of a forest so I think it counts. On our drive to the trailhead, we turned a corner and saw a moose. Katie slammed on the brakes and the moose hid back behind the bush it was eating. After sitting for about a minute the moose came back out. We were probably only about 30 feet from the moose, but since we were viewing from the car we were able to stay safe and I was able to get some spectacular photos of it. Since we were only in the park for a couple of hours and saw one moose, we figured we'd see many more during the trip, but that one ended up being the only one that we saw the whole trip.

To the OverlookMoose Spotting!Big BiteWild In the MountainsAt the End of the HikeGolden HourSunset

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Jewel Lake

We woke up at our campsite, ate breakfast, and headed to our first real hike in State Forest State Park. We picked out Jewel Lake because it was the hardest hike we were planning on doing and figured we should do that on our first day when we're better rested rather than on our second day. The morning was really overcast and windy. The wind blew some smoke into the valley which made all the surrounding mountains extremely hazy.

I had no idea what to expect from this hike in terms of distance. Online, the hike is about 6 miles and 1,500ft of elevation. However, the first mile of that was hiking on a road to get to a closer trailhead. So our plan was to drive to the closest trailhead so we could do the least amount of work to get to the lake. We passed the first trailhead and immediately noticed a sign that said no 2-wheeled drive vehicles. Being in a Subaru, we were set with our 4-wheel drive and continued on. The road quickly turned rocky and bumpy. After making it about halfway and being concerned about popping a tire the entire time, we decided to park our car on the side of the road and hike the rest of the way.

The hike ended up being just under 5 miles with our odd starting point mid-way between trailheads and took us about 3 hours. We climbed a total of 1,300 feet in elevation. The hike was extremely windy and the lake was not all that interesting (at least for an alpine lake), not to mention that it was incredibly hazy. So we didn't stay at the lake for too long and instead headed back down the trail to get into the trees to sit and eat our lunch in a less windy spot. The hike was disappointing, but the highlight was when we got back to our car - which was parked obviously not at a trailhead - there were 2 other cars that parked next to us, presumably because they had the same concerns that we did in that the road was too sketchy to try and continue.

Couple of FoxesHiking the RoadIn the FlowersParry’s PrimroseForbidden BreadFlowingOn the Bridge AgainGreen EverywhereJewel LakeMountain PikaTangled with the TreesBee KillerWild PorcupineLong ClawsField Of Flowers

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Lake Agnes

Today was our last day camping in State Forest State Park. Our park pass was good until noon, so we packed up camp and headed to Lake Agnes which is overlooked by the Crag mountains. It was still a little hazy from the smoke from the previous day, but it wasn't windy anymore so some of the smoke was able to settle without more getting blown in. The views weren't clear, but they were clear enough for us to enjoy some of the views. What we both really wanted photos of, however, were the Nokhu Crags which are some very jagged and pointed mountain peaks. The Nokhu Crags were on the East side of the lake, which since we were hiking in the morning was incredibly washed out from the sun. We both ended up being okay with that because the Nokhu Crags weren't very photogenic from Lake Agnes anyway. The mountainside leading up to them was just a massive rock pile. Instead, from the Eastside of the lake looking West were more magnificent views of some of the other peaks in the Never Summer Mountain Range like Mount Richthofen.

After reading more about this area after the hike, I wish I would have gotten some better photos of the whole area because of the different types of rock. The Nokhu Crags are Shale versus the Granit from Mount Richthofen, and the division between the two was very clear in the color of the rocks. You can see this a little bit in the panorama photo, which I hiked 250ft straight up the rock pile to get. The Never Summer Mountain Range is a fairly "young" mountain range that was formed 28 million years ago from volcanic eruptions from the seafloor, as opposed to the rest of the Front Range mountains that are over 1 billion years old.

Mt MahlerWaterfall Off the TrailLake AgnesLots of ColumbinesFrom up HighMonarchLake Alcove

July 2021

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