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Sunday, November 7, 2021

Bridal Veil Falls

We haven't been hiking since our fall colors trip to New England, and this weekend was the last weekend for the foreseeable future with nice summer-like weather. Estes Park had a forecasted high of 72°F, which is perfect hiking weather. With the following weekends forecasted at least 20°F lower than that, we knew we had to enjoy the weather while we could. I think the next time we hike we'll be needing snowshoes, or at least spikes.

We picked Bridal Veil Falls because it's been on our list to hike for a little while now. It's technically in Rocky Mountain National Park, although it's outside the pay gate. We have an annual pass, but we haven't done this hike yet because up until late October, you had to have a reservation just to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. I'm sure that no one was verifying the reservations since this area is outside of the pay gate for the park, but we stayed away from it just in case.

We got to the trailhead around 1 in the afternoon which was quite late considering that this morning was Day Light Savings, so we effectively started the hike at 2 PM. We only had about 4 hours of daylight left, but that wasn't a problem since this 6+ mile hike with 1,000 feet of elevation gain only took about 3 hours to complete. The hike wasn't too difficult, but we weren't used to hiking at elevation as opposed to when we were hiking last in New England. The elevation definitely takes its toll in the form of having to stop to catch your breath every so often, but it was nice to be hiking back in our mountains in our state.

Dark MountainBirch TreesSmall WaterfallUpper FallsDown the ValleyBlindedOn the Way Back

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Trekking Through The Forest

This November has been quite an unseasonably warm one. Most every day, I look at the photos that I've taken on the same day but in previous years (from my homepage), and just a few days ago, there was an album from 2017 where I was bragging about how we had a couple of warm days where I went on a hike. Now it's 2021 and we haven't even gotten a serious snow yet in Colorado, something that usually happens in October or at least early November. I'm certainly happy about the warm weather because it means that I can go hiking and still do other outdoor activities, but it also means that Colorado will stay dry and I would much rather have the moisture so that fires don't start in the mountains in the middle of November (I'm talking about the Kruger Rock Fire up in Estes Park). Let's hope it's a wet winter...

But I digress. We didn't want to go too high up into the mountains because the high mountains are actually cold (although still lacking snow for us to snowshoe), so we picked a hike just outside of Allenspark which started at an elevation of just under 9,000 feet. The hike up to Taylor Mountain and Big John Mountain is a pretty easy hike that starts on forest Roads. We even drove up to forest road 330 to make the hike shorter. The hike was just under 4 miles in distance and 1,100 feet in elevation gain which took us almost 2.5 hours.

This is not a frequently trafficked trail. We saw one group hiking down the forest road as we were driving up, and there was one more car parked next to us when we completed our hike (but we never saw that group). The trail to get to the fork for Taylor Mountain was pretty easy to follow, but the trail up to Taylor Mountain was non-existent and the trail from the Taylor Mountain fork to Big John Mountain was incredibly well marked with cairns, yet we still managed to get lost by following a rogue cairn. On the way back down, we were able to follow the path a little better, and even set up half a dozen new cairns for hikers so they don't get lost in the same way that we did. Once we got back to the area where we followed the rogue cairn, we kicked it over so that no one would get lost. I kicked over a total of 3 misleading cairns on the hike back, which made me feel like I did my duty as hiker by helping out future hikers.

The other cool thing about this hike is that there were two hiking logs at the top, one at Tylor Mountain and one at Big John Mountain. Both logs dated back to 2011 which is pretty long to survive up in the elements. It was exciting because I've only found one other hiking log before (at Stone Mountain). Both of the logs were just off the scenic view and protected by tall cairns. The log at Taylor mountain was in pretty bad shape, including cracks in the plastic jar plus the plastic bag around it being completely torn up. I always keep a gallon zip lock bag in my backpack in case it rains and I need to protect my camera, so I figured giving it up for the hiking log would be a worthy cause. The log at Big John Mountain was in much better shape in a plastic container that was holding together pretty well (which is good since I didn't have any more bags left).

The lack of people, the adventure of getting lost and trying to find, build, and destroy cairns, signing the hiking logs, and the great views made this a pretty fun hike.

Signed LogDated Back to 2011Obstructed ViewTaylor Mountain ForkOpened UpSigning the LogHidden in the CairnWashed Out

November 2021

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