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Sunday, September 4, 2022

Double-Digit Mileage Hike

We finally did it. We hiked double-digit mileage, something neither of us has ever done. We tried to do this hike a few weekends ago but the weather didn't hold out of us, so we put off this hike until Labor Day weekend instead. The day started out with us realizing that our hiking clothes weren't clean because we hadn't done laundry this weekend yet. I'm not sure how this isn't more of a problem since we often hike on the first day of the weekend, but we quickly remedied this problem by washing the clothes by hand and throwing them into the dryer while we got ready. A little while later we loaded up Katie's car and hopped in, already leaving later than we wanted while we waited for the clothes to mostly dry. After Katie put her key in the ignition, we realized our hike would be delayed even further since her car didn't start... 30 minutes later and some quick diagnostics with a multimeter and repairs using baking soda, water, and a toothbrush, we got the battery terminal cleaned off and the car started right up. Although frustrating since we had somewhere to go, having this happen on a weekend when I could actually fix it is preferred over her trying to start her car on a workday since I always leave for work before her. We planned to leave the house around 8:30 for this hike but actually ended up leaving more than an hour late and got to the trailhead at 11. But at least our hiking plans weren't completely thwarted.

Today was an odd day for weather over the Cameron's Peak area - zero chance of rain. Usually, this is a good thing, particularly since we were doing such a lengthy hike, but the weather was also forecasted to hit the mid 70's right in the middle of our hike. We hiked directly through the Cameron's Peak burn scar area so we knew we were in for sunny trails with no shade, and we wouldn't get any help from the clouds with that zero percent chance for rain in the forecast. The burn scar area wasn't all that nice to hike through because of the lack of shade and because there isn't a lot of interest in that type of scenery. We did see some cool mushrooms and some neat patterns on burnt trees that we'd never seen before, but overall it was just hot and uncomfortable almost the whole way to the lake. About a mile from the lake we left the burn scar and that's when we really started enjoying the hike.

We were a few hundred feet above the lake when the lake came into view on the hike which gave us a fantastic aerial view of the lake before descending to it. This view made hiking through the burn scar and the heat worth it. The 5+ mile hike to the lake took us about two and a half hours and about two hours to get back. We were at the lake for about an hour for a total hiking time of almost five and a half hours for this 11-mile hike. Overall the views were good enough that we weren't disappointed, but we've had much better experiences hiking in other areas and we feel like a hike with this much effort (distance) should have better views during the majority of the hike. Because of this, I don't think we will come back to hike anytime soon.

One of our New Year resolutions was to beat one of our hiking stats that we did last year. Since we're now back on track, I don't feel quite as bad restating how we're doing, and I really felt like I owed posting an update since the last time I posted about these goals was February. Below is our hiking stats from last year, which can be found on the hiking page.

Hike Count Distance Hiking Time Elevation Gain
45 154.8 miles 85hr 56min 32,312 feet
Last years hiking stats (2021)

Here's our current year to date statistics:

Hike Count Distance Hiking Time Elevation Gain
19 102.93 miles 54hr 8min 22,134 feet
Year to date hiking stats (Through Labor Day)

We just started the month of September which as of September 4th is 68% of the way through 2022. If I compare 2021 to 2022, you can see (below) that we're above 68% only for elevation gain - but that's all that matters since our New Year resolution is to just beat one of our statistics from last year (although this year is far from over).

Hike Count Distance Hiking Time Elevation Gain
42.2% 66.5% 63.0% 68.5%
2022 progress benchmarked against 2021 as the goal.

To no surprise, we're far behind in the number of hikes, but we knew we wouldn't come anywhere close to surpassing our 45 hikes from last year since last year we had two hiking trips planned. We're not that far off from being on track for total distance which we're only 1.8 miles behind where we should be at this point in the year comparing ourselves to our 2021 selves. We're 4 hours behind on hiking time, but I would consider us being behind where we were at last year a good thing as long as we meet or exceed what we did in distance last year (because that means we hiked at a faster pace).

Amanita MushroomBurnedChamberGloomyThe RawahBlackenedZebra WoodOut of the Burn ZoneBlue LakeOver the Bridge

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

CSU Trial Gardens

We didn't have time last weekend to go to the CSU Trial Gardens which is usually the time we make a trip out to these beautiful gardens. Despite being busy, we still made it here to do our annual photoshoot which is now 3 years running, so I guess it's a tradition for us to come here. I think next year we'll try to get to the gardens a little earlier (mid-August) because many of the flowers were already withering. There were still plenty of flowers for us in full bloom, but it seems like every year when we finally remember to come here we show up just a little past peak bloom.

Pink DahliaVibrantCrisp WingsPointyAfrican DaisiesThreeTwoAt the GardensLavenderLittle Bit of SunshineThrough the FlowersFast mothHibiscusGray

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Roosevelt Ridge

We opted for an easier hike this weekend because the new COVID booster was messing with Katie's energy level. She was pretty weak the day after the shot (Saturday) but seemed to have most of her energy by Sunday morning. Saturday was pretty rainy and cold anyway, so Sunday was the better day to hike. I get my shot next weekend, we'll see if we hike something hard next Sunday or not.

Roosevelt Ridge was a pretty easy hike that started just outside of Estes Park. We only had to drive 45 minutes to the trailhead which was a nice change of pace from the 1.5 hour dives we've been doing in past weekends. The hike started at a pretty low elevation, which usually means a warmer hike, but because of the cool weather the day before, the weather remained pretty cool throughout the short hike. It was in the mid-50s when we started hiking around 11 am and barely got into the 70s by the end of the hike around noon.

The trail ends about 3/4 of a mile into the hike, but there was a primitive trail that took us to the top of Roosevelt Ridge. There were many times that we weren't sure where we were going, but there were lots of cairn rock sculptures that guided us when we got lost. It wasn't that hard to figure it out if we did get off the trail since we could see where we were headed the majority of the way.

Roosevelt RidgeRocky Mountain National ParkGreat ViewsHighest PointLumpy Ridge

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Browns Lake

We did a moderately difficult hike today in the Pingree Park area. Unknown to us, there was a marathon happening that went on the road we take to get up the Poudre Canyon, but even with that delay, we made it to the trailhead in under 2 hours. We had a lazy start to our morning and didn't leave the house until around 9:30, but we didn't need to rush out of the house because the weather was forecasted to be pretty nice during the hike. The weather was forecasted to barely hit the 70's, but we neglected to realize that the forecast was for a few thousand feet lower in elevation than where we were starting. When we got to the trailhead it was a breezy 56 degrees which was a little too chilly for the start of the hike. Once we started hiking, the cooler temperatures and the breeze were wonderful.

This area was recently burned in the 2020 Cameron's Peak fire, and there were several times when we walked right through a post-apocalyptic burnet forest with even black soot covering parts of the trail. Every time we hike through a burn area it's a little different in scenery, and this one looked pretty spooky. Halloween is right around the corner, so I guess this hike was helping us get into the Fall spirit!

Luckily we weren't walking through the burned area the entire time, we walked in and out of it for the first half of the hike. Then we got above treeline and there wasn't any indication of any burn scars up there, mostly because there isn't a lot to burn. But above the tree line we were very exposed and the wind was blowing hard. Luckily there wasn't a single could in the sky, so we didn't have to worry about the weather while being so exposed, but it didn't make for a very pleasant hike. This area was probably absolutely stunning during wildflower season. Typically above tree line, there are rocky mountains in every direction, but near Crown Point it was mostly open meadows. I would love to do this hike again in mid-summer to see what the wildflowers are like.

This hike is a little different than what we're used to doing in the fact that we first hiked up to Crown Point, then hiked down to Brown's Lake. It was nice to spread out all 2,000ft of elevation gain between getting to the lake and getting back to the car, but the way back was pretty brutal because we're not used to having to do ascent on the way back to the car. When you're hiking to a destination you have some adrenaline that helps you with the ascent. There wasn't that kind of adrenaline on the way back, so having to do an additional 1,000 feet of elevation gain on the way back took all of our energy. Because of this, coupled with the sub-par views during the hike makes me rate this as below-average views for the effort.

BurnedWheatThe RawahComanche WildernessNokhu CragsCrown PointBrowns LakeLunch SpotYear Round SnowFireweedTopographic Map

Sunday, September 25, 2022

A Little Bit of Fall

We had a busy weekend, but that didn't stop us from getting into the mountains, particularly since it's getting that time of year when the colors are changing. The colors change fast in Colorado, so we knew we needed to take any opportunity we had to get into the mountains to try and enjoy it while it lasts. With Katie working Saturday and us attending a birthday party in the early afternoon on Sunday, our only option was to get up into the mountains before sunset, which at this time of year is starting to be early.

Timed entry is still required in Rocky Mountain National Park for a couple more weeks, but it had been a while since we last made it into the park. We try and avoid the busy summer with all the tourists, but now that people aren't taking summer vacations, the park should be a little less crowded. We didn't quite know where we were going to hike when we were driving up to Estes Park. We had a reservation to get into Rocky at 4, but because of the time constraints before the sun went down we knew we weren't going to do anything serious. We ended up picking Bierstadt Lake based on the views that we got earlier in the year when we snowshoed this same trail. Bierstadt lake is a quick 2.5 mile trail with very minimal elevation gain, but the hike is along an exposed mountain face that gives great views of the Bear Lake corridor. The hike didn't disappoint, the first half-mile we were hiking through thick aspen groves, and the remaining half mile to the lake we had unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains. The sun was setting towards the direction that we wanted to shoot, so this hike may have been better as an early morning hike instead, but we made due and ended up with some pretty good sun flare photos. One thing I always forget about in the mountains is that there really isn't golden hour because the sun doesn't get low enough. By the time the sun sets behind a tall peak next to you, the sun is still pretty high in the sky. But that's okay since all of these plans were somewhat last minute anyway.

We were a little early for fall colors this year, but we knew that heading up to Rocky. The colors were predicted to be early this year because of the massive amounts of rain that we got in the late summer, but I think peak colors in Rocky Mountain National Park will actually be next weekend, which aligns better with when peak colors usually hit the Colorado mountains (which is the last weekend in September or the first weekend in October). Despite most of the aspens still being green, we did find several golden aspen trees that made for some great fall colors hunting. Next weekend will be even better.

Green and YellowDyingLittle Bit of SunInto the SunBig BoulderIn the AspensGoldenSetting Sun

September 2022

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