Email mecontact me
Show Other Months and Years

Friday, September 1, 2023

Last Day in Iceland

Our day started off with a very touristy thing: taking a guided tour. We took a tour because that was the only way to get to see the glacier up close. Our tour of the Katla Ice Cave started by taking a Super Jeep to a trailhead. The Super Jeep was a fun experience, and hard to judge if we could have made it to that same spot in our own car or not, but probably not.

Once we got out of the Super Jeep, we hiked for a little bit to get to the mouth of the Katla Ice Cave. We were given crampons and started walking on ice until we went through a massive ice tunnel that was maybe 40 feet in diameter and about 60 feet long. Once there, we were in a bowl surrounded by ice mountains when we realized that the "cave" was just the tunnel. So much ice melts from this area that you can't really go underneath the ice safely in the sense that you would be in a cave, so that was the first disappointment on this tour.

The area was super cool but the weather was uncooperating and misting the entire time of the tour which also didn't help. The nice thing was that the tour was somewhat small, with only a dozen people in our group, but our tour guide was pretty new and didn't really know very much when people asked questions. Having done this at the end of the trip seemed a little bit pointless, but it was still neat to get to walk on the ice nonetheless.

Afterwards, we continued driving towards Reykjavik where our plane departed the next day. We stopped in Hulvislodor to see Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi, which were the waterfalls that we put off seeing a few days ago due to a lack of parking and poor lighting. The lighting today was okay because it was overcast, but it would have been much better if it was sunny. This waterfall was another tourist trap with tons of people there and paid parking, but it was still a good experience because the second smaller waterfall on this short trail was something that we had to hike through a small cave to get to. That experience was different than all the other waterfalls we have seen and made the stop worth it, even if it was touristy and busy.

The evening was the best part of the day. We went to a Viking dining hall, called Ingólfsskáli Viking Restaurant. The food was so-so, but the ambiance was incredible. It was like we were eating in an old Viking hall, even the silverware was hand-crafted (or appeared to be) like in Viking times. The best part was the mead that we had from Öldur meadery. They had a blueberry, a cherry, and an herb mead. We had all 3 to start and then ended up getting two more of the blueberry. The neatest part about this was that it was served in bull horns. This place went out of the way to make you feel like a Viking while providing modern food.

Luckily, the restaurant we ate at for dinner was only 7 minutes from our hotel for the night. A storm was rolling in that had "hurricane-like winds" in our area for the next half-day. There were plenty of delayed and canceled flights because of this storm, but ours wasn't one of them since the storm was long over by the time our plane departed. This was our last real day in Iceland and we had very little planned for the following day. The only things we needed to do was get some of that Öldur mead to take home and drive a little over an hour to the airport for a 4pm flight. We made it to the airport with more than enough time.

Wwater Run OffOver the BridgeBlue IceThe Ice TunnelIce WaterfallThe Whole AreaDirty RiverSeljalandsfoss My Troll WifeGljúfrabúi On the TourIngólfsskáli Viking RestaurantKatie and Her Horn

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Scramble to Spectacle Lakes

After recovering from our hiking vacation in Iceland where we hiked 62 miles, we finally made it back out to the mountains. Our mountains. We decided we wanted to get into Rocky because we only have about a month between when the tourists aren't taking over the park and when the roads are still all open. We've been wanting to hike in the Mummy Range for a while, which required parking along Old Fall River Road. This road is closing for the season to vehicles starting in a little under a month, so we don't have much time left in the season to do the handful of hikes in this area.

The hike wasn't that bad up to Ypsilon Lake. We first encountered Chipmunk Lake which we thought at first was Ypsilon Lake. But Chipmunk Lake was way too small to be anything major. However, we did like that Chipmunk Lake was very still and offered fantastic reflective views of Ypsilon Mountain. We continued to Ypsilon Lake which wasn't too much further. Ypsilon was a very nice lake, but you couldn't actually see all of Ypsilon Mountain from the lake. The view of Ypsilon Mountain was blocked by large boulders and trees. After stopping to take a few photos, we continued on the primitive trail to Spectacle Lakes. It was at this point that the hike went from moderate to very difficult.

The distance between Ypsilon and Spectacle Lakes isn't that far. They're right next to each other but on completely different elevation lines, meaning that Spectacle Lakes were straight up 500 feet in elevation gain from Ypsilon Lake. We encountered a few boulder fields that didn't seem too bad to start, and then we came to the crux of the hike. We were faced with climbing a slab wall or scrambling up the cascades coming from Spectacle Lakes. We started by climbing the slab which was quite dangerous. This quickly turned into a class 5 rock climb. I made it maybe 40-50 feet up the slab before turning around. The slab wasn't that steep, but it was slick with very few places to hold or get a good grip with my boots.

After attempting the slab climb, Katie was ready to abandon the idea of making it to Spectacle Lakes due to anxiety - and for good reason, the slab isn't something that should be attempted without ropes. But luckily, there were two other couples just as crazy as us trying to make it to Spectacle Lakes. After us convincing them not to attempt the slab, all 6 of us headed up the river. This ended up being only a class 3 scramble - something that could have broken a bone if you fell, but not so dangerous that it would have been life-threatening (like a class 4 or 5 is). There were a few tricky spots, but both Katie and I made it without getting too many scrapes or bruises. In hindsight, scrambling up the river was the right choice.

Spectacle Lakes was definitely worth the scramble. These lakes are just barely in the alpine tundra with towering mountains around them. Compared with Ypsilon which was only subalpine and surrounded by trees. We weren't above treeline for Spectacle Lakes, but the area was too rocky for almost any trees to grow. Without trees, there are panoramic views. Even looking away from Spectacle Lakes we could see Longs and Meeker in the distance which were a nice treat.

This hike accomplished 2 of our 3 New Year's Resolutions. Our New Year's Resolution was to beat our all-time records for mileage, elevation gain, and time hiking by 15%. This hike to Spectacle Lakes beat our previous record for time hiking by 31% and our previous record for elevation gain by 33%. We still need to do a hike that's more than 12.86 miles to complete our New Year's Resolution.

Record to Beat2023 GoalGoal Status
Mileage11.18 MilesBlue Lake12.86 MilesUncompleted
Elevation Gain2,589 ftMount Ida2,977 ftCompleted
Time Hiking5hr, 47min, 42secMount Ida6hr, 39min, 51secCompleted

A Hint of FallFairchild MountainYpsilon MountainChipmunk LakeIcyCluttered WaterfallOver the RocksMountain GentianSunbathing MarmotThe Daunting Slab WallSpectacle LakesLongs Peak in the DistanceThrough the RocksThe Steep ClimbWild RaspberryForaging in the Mountains

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Herman Gulch

We wanted to do a little bit of a longer hike this weekend, but those plans were thrown out when Saturday was a windy day in the mountains. It was so windy that it wouldn't have been nice to hike in. So instead, we decided to hike on Sunday. Katie was meeting with someone for coffee in the morning, so we didn't get started until a little later. After a 2-hour drive, we reached the trailhead at noon where we started our hike up Herman Gulch.

This hike was in the I-70 corridor, an area we haven't hiked much in. It's not any further than the hikes we normally go on, but there's a lot more traffic driving on I-70 compared to the hikes we do in Rocky or up the Poudre Canyon. But with nothing that seemed interesting to us in our normal areas, we decided to brave the traffic and head to a hike that started literally right off I-70. The accessibility of this hike made us skeptical that we would enjoy it or that there would be no parking spots, but neither of those things ruined the hike for us. It was a busy trail, but people were spread out enough that it didn't bother us.

Having gotten a later start, we didn't eat lunch until we made it to the lake. We snacked plenty in the car on the way up, but not hiking with food in our stomachs was a little challenging. This hike was difficult enough on its own, let alone hiking it on empty-ish stomachs. We made it to the lake in under 2 hours, took a few photos, ate our lunch, then headed back down. The hike was less than 4 hours which is impressive for us since a hike of this level we were expecting to take over 4.

The weather was perfect on Sunday for hiking. It was a cool mid 60's with a slight breeze. It was a little chilly at the lake, but we brought some light jackets that were fine for relaxing at the lake. It would have been nice to have done something a little more challenging on Saturday, but the weather was so much better today that our hike today was the right choice.

Fall in ColoradoOff the PathLunch SpotSteep TrailMountains Through the TreesGoldenHerman Lake

September 2023

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday