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Hiking

I go on a lot of hikes. So it seemed fitting that there would be an entire section of my website dedicated to hiking. The hiking posts have extra data accociated with them designed around tracking my progress through the wilderness. Although that data is displayed on each individual posts, there's still a lot more that can be done with it, so I thought I'd create this place for it.

You can check out my hike list to see all the hikes I have and also hope to acomplish.

Cool Stats:

YearHike
Count
Distance
(mi)
Dist (mi)
Hiking TimeTotal
Time
Elevation
Gain (ft [mi])
Elev. Gain
(ft [mi])
2023529.7918h 31m 44s7,939 [1.5]
202232189.46102h 54m 37s42,302 [8.01]
202146159.2687h 46m 12s33,464 [6.34]
202026151.4270h 08m 14s30,463 [5.77]
20191146.4421h 17m 25s10,975 [2.08]
20181166.5935h 12m 44s19,361 [3.67]
20171254.9832h 21m 00s12,582 [2.38]
Total143697.94368h 11m 56s157,086 [29.75]

Places I Have Hiked

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2023

Camelback Mountain - Jan 23, 2023

While visiting Katie's family in Arizona, we decided to take some time to enjoy the outdoors since this is the only time of the year that you can be outside in Arizona without melting. With the temperatures in the mid 40's it could have been a little warmer, but that's still more than double the temperature that we're used to hiking in this time of year.

Katie picked the hike and it was a lot of fun. This hike packed A LOT of elevation gain in a very short distance, and that's apparent from the big caution sign at the beginning of the hike with two black diamonds on it with big bold letters saying that this is an "extremely difficult hike". But since we were hiking at a much lower elevation than we're used to, the hike seemed fairly easy considering what it was. We haven't done a lot of hiking near sea level, but it amazes me how much easier it is to catch your breath after doing a strenuous section. But the main reason that this hike was a lot of fun was because of the amount of rock scrambling that was required. The last half-mile to the summit we were using our hands in order to make it to the top. There aren't typically a lot of hikes in Colorado like that which made this hike extra fun. The worst part about this hike was the proximity to the city. We never really got far enough from the city where we couldn't hear city noises, but to be fair, this hike is right in the middle of Phoenix. But because of this, we got fantastic views of the city from the summit, which is a lot different than the views that we're used to getting at the summit. So I appreciated the different views than what I'm used to (let alone the cactus instead of the trees, which was cool too).

This hike has two different trailheads that one can start from. We started from the East side of the Cholla Trailhead because it was a little less elevation gain than starting on the West end. The hike to Camelback mountain from the Cholla Trailhead was also a little bit longer than the other trailhead, but that extra distance was probably better to spread out the elevation gain anyway.

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Location:Arizona
Distance:3.08mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 57 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,312ft
Max Elevation:2,618ft

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Lake Haiyaha - Jan 14, 2023

Since last weekend's hike was a little bit of a bummer, we planned to go into Rocky Mountain National Park this weekend since hikes in Rocky never disappoint. But the only problem is that we've done just about all of them, well at least the ones that we can physically get to in the winter. I've wanted to hike to Lake Haiyaha again since the June 2022 rockslide that changed the color of the lake. Of course, since it's winter, I wasn't expecting to see much of the color since it's all frozen over, but the colors were still spectacular and well worth the grueling 6-mile hike. We didn't get very much of the green color that the lake had in the summer, but it was a gorgeous crisp blue that was more brilliant than ice we've seen at other alpine lakes.

We decided to make the hike longer than the 4-mile out and back as we did in early 2022. Instead, we made it a loop starting from the Bear Lake parking lot to Glacier Gorge, turning before branching off to the Loch to get up to Lake Haiyaha, then back down to Dream Lake, followed by Numph Lake, and finally ending our loop back at the Bear Lake parking lot. The hike started out on easy terrain with well-packed down snow since the Glacier Gorge trail is quite popular. But it was apparent that this particular loop isn't popular since the trail was nonexistent between The fork to the Loch and Lake Haiyaha. For that mile of the trail, we were completely on our own breaking trail. Equipped with COTrex on Katie's phone, we made it without wandering too far from the trail (but the map is quite funny to look at because of us squiggling back and forth around the trail in a few spots). Breaking trail isn't something I ever expected to do in Rocky Mountain National Park since it's such a popular place. But it was great to be on our own and away from all the people during that mile, even if it was extremely strenuous. By the time we were hiking back from Dream Lake, there were people everywhere you looked since that's the number one most popular trail in Rocky. That amount of people ruin the hiking experience, but we didn't care since we were physically and mentally done with the hike by that point and just trying to make it back to the car.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:5.97mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 20 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,847ft
Max Elevation:10,379ft

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Timberline Falls - Jan 8, 2023

We opted to do a more leisurely hike this weekend a hike with only 1,000 feet of elevation gain and almost 7 miles long. The length was a little more than what we would normally do for a leisurely hike, but wouldn't be something too difficult for us to do. Even though we've done much harder hikes than this, the hike to Timberline Falls from Camp Dick took a lot out of both of us and left us both completely exhausted, and neither of us knows why. Our best bet is because there weren't any good views along the way which usually fuels our excitement to push ourselves further. Sadly, though, the best view was near the parking lot since that was the only spot where we were far enough away to see the towering mountains in the distance.

Even though this hike didn't have any good sights and isn't one we'll be doing again anytime soon, it was good to get out and wander through the mountains for a few hours.

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Location:
Distance:6.82mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 42 minutes
Elevation Gain:958ft
Max Elevation:9,232ft

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New Year's Day Hike - Jan 1, 2023

We started the new year doing what we do best, hiking. We've made it somewhat of a tradition to spend the New Year holiday up at Valley View Hot Springs, which we've done 3 times now. On one of the days that we were there, we drove an hour North to Buena Vista to hike in the Collegiate Peaks. The Collegiate Peaks have always been a place we've both wanted to hike but it's a long drive (over 3 hours) to any of the hikes from our house. The mountains we have in the Northern part of the state gradually build up to taller mountain ranges, but the Collegiate Peaks jump up high from the flat valleys between mountain ranges, which makes them a stunning mountain range.

We woke up at the hot springs, ate breakfast, and went on our way. Since it wasn't a normal morning getting ready for a hike (most of our gear was already pre-loaded in the car), I forgot one critical item; my camera. I realized it only a couple of minutes after we left, but it was too late since we had already left the hot springs premises, which are marked by a one-way gate during their closed hours. They wouldn't be open for another two hours for us to get back in. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have on you, so I used my camera phone on this hike. I haven't had to use my camera phone on a hike in nearly two years, and just like the last time, my phone camera doesn't even compare to what my DSLR can do.

The hike itself was a good hike to ring in the New Year. It was on the moderate side of our hiking level - so not too easy but also not too difficult. It started off with a small dusting of snow where we hardly even needed our microspikes. About a mile in, we threw on our snowshoes for traction, and by the time we made it to the second lake, we were trekking through 2 foot deep fresh powder making our own trail. There were only 2 other groups in front of us that broke the trail for us, but neither decided to make it all the way around the second lake. Feeling adventurous, we used up a great amount of energy hiking around the second lake which was absolutely worth the views. We found a spot on the lake to eat lunch and have a cup of tea (using a new hiking thermos Katie got for Christmas) in front of Mount Columbia and then made our way back to the trail.

Since it's the new year, we decided to make some New Year's resolutions, and just like last year, one of ours is hiking-related. We crushed our 2022 New Year's resolution of beating one of our hiking stats from 2021 in November, and for most of the last few months we've talked about making hiking a 14'er our 2023 New Year's resolution, but that's not what we landed on. With our wedding in late July, wedding reception in mid-August, and our Icelandic honeymoon in late August, there aren't that many weekends that we could hike a 14'er that would be in good 14'er hiking season. In order to not set ourselves up for failure, that will likely be our 2024 goal, but this year in 2023, here's our New Year's resolution:

2023 goal: Beat our all-time records for mileage, elevation gain, and time hiking by 15%.

Current RecordHike AchievedDate Achieved2023 Goal
Mileage11.18 MilesBlue LakeSept. 4, 202212.86 Miles
Elevation Gain2,589 ftMount IdaOct. 17, 20222,977 ft
Time Hiking5hr, 47min, 42secMount IdaOct. 17, 20226hr, 39min, 51sec

Elevation gain sounds the easiest of all 3 of those goals. The hike we did today is about half of what we need to do to complete our new years resolution. I don't expect to beat all 3 of these records in one hike, and that's not part of our 2023 goal. In terms of my personal all time records, what's shown above are my personal records except for elevation gain which is a record of 3,973 ft back in 2018. I will absolutely not be beating that record by 15% this year.

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Location:Collegiate Peaks
Distance:5.57mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 43 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,680ft
Max Elevation:10,304ft

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2022

Black Lake - Dec 18, 2022

We haven't had any snow over the past week but that didn't stop us from finding some snow that required snowshoes. With horrible winds during the week, I thought that there would be pent-up demand, so we got to the Glacier Gorge parking lot around 9 am to find it was only half-filled. Oh well, it was good to get this hike started early since it took us over 5 and a half hours to complete.

Looking at the stats for this hike you might think we're crazy for doing something like this, and I would agree with you. Neither Katie nor I thought this would be a double-digit hike (This is now the 3rd hike we've done over 10 miles), and we didn't think this would be as much elevation as it ended up being (multiple online resources suggested this would be around 1,600 feet of elevation gain, not 2,200). But the views were absolutely stunning at Black Lake and made the pain of hiking there and back worth it. We didn't see very many people during the hike, but the best part was that we had Black Lake all to ourselves.

It was windy during most of the hikes, but neither of the lakes we visited were that breezy. That was great luck since most of the time the lakes are windier than the trails themselves, but I wasn't going to question what black magic sorcery made the lakes absent of wind.

We've done a couple of hard hikes in a row now, so I think next week we'll take it easy. There aren't many more hiking days between now and the end of the year, but that doesn't matter since we accomplished our hiking New Year's resolution last month.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:10.08mi
Hiking Time:5 hours, 31 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,156ft
Max Elevation:10,679ft

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Crosier Mountain - Dec 11, 2022

We stayed a little closer to home this week for our hike. It was refreshing being able to only have to drive 45 minutes to get to the trailhead, but since we weren't in the high country the views were not nearly as great as if we had driven a few hours to get somewhere. But that's okay since being a little lower had two other advantages. First, we were hiking at a lower elevation which meant we could go a little longer between breaks because we didn't get winded nearly as quickly. Secondly, it was considerably warmer than the other hikes we have been doing. So warm that we were both hiking in just our t-shirts most of the way up.

This is the second time we've done Crosier Mountain. We first did this hike in 2020 starting from Glen Haven, so this time we started from the Gravel Pit trailhead which starts a little further East than the trailhead from Glen Haven. Looking back on the photos from the previous hike I think I liked the other trailhead better, but there are 3 trailheads to summit Crosier Mountain, so the next time we hike this in a few years we'll be doing it from the last trailhead. That trailhead is considerably harder than the other two, so that's why we saved that one for last...

The views were great at the top but it was incredibly windy. So windy that the gusts were causing us to lose our balance, which was quite dangerous with the dropoffs all around us. Because of this, we didn't stay very long at the summit before heading back down the trail and finding a different overlook that wasn't as gusty to eat our lunch.

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Location:Glen Haven
Distance:7.53mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 50 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,546ft
Max Elevation:9,260ft

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Snowshoeing Montgomery Pass - Dec 4, 2022

This is the second time we've done this hike this year. Usually, we don't hike something twice a year unless it's one of the convenient trails near our house. This trail was not convenient to get to since it took almost 2 hours to get all the way up the Poudre Canyon and nearly all the way to Cameron's Pass, but it's a fantastic hike which is why we decided to do it again. This time we did the hike in the snow.

We first hiked to Montgomery Pass in early July when the weather was significantly different. In July, Montgomery Pass was peak wildflower season and that was the start of us becoming obsessed with finding alpine meadows filled with wildflowers. The top of the pass was still reminiscent of the wildflowers with dead flower seed pods sticking up over the snow on fragile dried-out stems. Montgomery Pass is our first snowshoe of the season, and we needed every bit of our snowshoes on this hike. With only one other group in front of us past the fork for the skiing bowl, we were taking steps and sinking a few feet with nearly every step (well I was, Katie had better luck). Because of this, our muscles fatigued quite quickly, something we weren't expecting on such an "easy" hike. This is an easy hike in the summertime, but it was difficult to snowshoe. But having to nearly break the trail made this snowshoe all that more exciting and truer to the reason we go out and adventure in the forest in the winter.

Other than the snow and lack of wildflowers, there were two more noticeable things that were different on this hike now versus in July. First, the State Park service had changed out the summit sign at the top of Montgomery pass. The old one was extremely weathered, but it was really cool. Now it's just a boring metal sign. Secondly, we saw Smoky the Bear at the Arrowhead Lodge Visitor Center. That visitor center has been closed as long as Katie and I can remember, so it was weird to see it finally open back up and to have such an honored guest waving at the cars driving by. We didn't stop to say hi, but they definitely got our attention, and was a completely unexpected sight to see.

We safely hiked this without any problems, just in time since an avalanche warning was posted after we got home for this area for the next few days. There definitely wasn't enough snow at the top of Montgomery Pass to be concerned, but with snow in the forecast (and a storm rolling in as we were finishing up the hike) I can see how this could be dangerous in the coming days. Maybe we should stick to hiking below the treeline for the remainder of the snowshoeing season.

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Location:Camerons Pass
Distance:4.23mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 47 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,198ft
Max Elevation:11,154ft

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All the Sights Along the Way to Sky Pond - Nov 20, 2022

Our hike this week consisted of going to the Loch, a large sub-alpine lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Loch is a pretty easy (for us) hike that's only about 5.5 miles and 1,000 feet of elevation gain. But the trail doesn't end at the Loch, it continues on to Timberline Falls, then onto the Lake of Glass, and ends at Sky Pond. We made it to the Loch pretty quickly which is a gorgeous lake, but it was mostly in shade which wasn't as photogenic as I would have liked. After getting to the Loch and both of us feeling pretty good, we decided to continue on to Timberline Falls, which this time of year was completely frozen over. There were several groups of people ice climbing on the frozen waterfall which was cool to take a break while watching them. The next section of the tail was an incredibly dangerous ice scramble. We had to climb up the side of Timberline Falls which is a difficult rock scramble in the summertime, so it was nearly ice-climbing this time of year. With only having our microspikes, we were ill-prepared for what came next. We made it up with a bit of caution but the way back was quite trickier and it only added to the adventure when Katie slid down the 30-40ft "ice slide" at an alarming speed. But neither of us got hurt. This got us talking about wether or not they make mini ice axes (pocket-knife style) that could have helped in this kind of situation. But so far I haven't found such a product...

From the ice scramble we continued on to the Lake of Glass, which was by far the best lake of the hike. The sun was just in the right spot and the surrounding mountains were facing the right direction for the sun. The lake itself was completely frozen over, and as its name suggests, it was like walking on top of glass. The ice was crystal clear in some spots which was quite nerve-wracking to walk on top of. There were several places (on all of the lakes) where there were large cracks going through the ice from the ice moving around. It was in the cracked areas that you could see just how thick the sheet of ice was because there was a deep ribbon of white ice where the crack occurred. The ice on Lake of glass, as well as at the Loch and Sky Pond, were all well over a foot deep, but we still exercised some caution after Katie's mishap stepping through the ice at Lake Helene about a month earlier.

Leaving the Lake of Glass we continued on about a quarter-mile to Sky Pond. The trail to Sky Pond was less packed down which left us post-holing almost the entire way there. We definitely could have benefited from having snowshoes while getting to Sky Pond, but we didn't bring them with us since we weren't sure that we would make it that far (and definitely didn't need snowshoes for the rest of the hike). There was a group in front of us who had snowshoes tied to their backpacks and one of them made the comment to me that it's not worth it to put them on, which made us feel better that we didn't bring ours at all.

Sky Pond was quite windy (more so than the Loch and just barely more than at Lake of Glass). This is expected with winter hiking, which is why we didn't stop at Sky Pond for very long before heading back. We finally found a spot at the Lake of Glass to eat our lunch - burritos that we kept warm in a thermos in my pack. From there we scrambled down Timberline falls (nearly dying) and make it back to the Loch which was now completely in sun, but with the sun in the completely wrong spot to photograph... Oh well, it's still a gorgeous lake even if I can't photograph it well.

Overall, the hike was a little over 9 miles and 2,200 feet of elevation gain. This would have been a difficult hike in the summertime, but we decided to do it in the winter, which made it even harder. Despite the difficulty, we made it to the end of the hike with enthusiasm while seeing some fantastic sights along the way.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:9.21mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 52 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,228ft
Max Elevation:10,749ft

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Finch Lake - Nov 13, 2022

It's almost snowshoeing season! Well not really, but we've had some great snowfall here recently that makes it seems like it's snowshoeing season. We didn't need snowshoes for this hike to Finch Lake, but there were some areas where the snow was almost a foot deep and soft enough that we would fall right through it. The hike started from an unusual trailhead in a neighborhood rather than from the traditional Wild Basin trailhead area in Allenspark. We choose this trailhead because it made the hike about a mile shorter, which was great for me since I was tired from being on my feet all day on the previous day. Even with that shortcut, this hike was still pretty killer for me and probably a little more than I should have done, but I made it all the way there and back (with lots of complaining - just ask Katie).

But before we started the hike, we had to find a parking spot. Several hiking apps warned us that there were a lot of strict no parking signs around the trailhead, so we carefully looked around when we got there and decided on a parking spot. We drove onto the shoulder of the dirt road and onto untouched snow when the car quickly fell into a ditch. We spent about 20 minutes using a small shovel Katie had in her car and her slipping with her wheels on the ground before we finally got out of the ditch and parked somewhere flatter.

I like photographing summer hikes a lot better than winter hikes. The snow coverage often makes the photos look a less detailed and overly bright, so that's the main reason why there aren't many photos in this blog post. That combined with me being generally low on energy meant that I didn't take my camera out very many times. But the snow is my reality for hikes (or snowshoeing) for the next 5-ish months, so I need to start switching my mindset to be able to capture the beauty of snowy hikes.

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Location:Allenspark
Distance:7.82mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 30 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,644ft
Max Elevation:10,073ft

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Estes Cone - Nov 6, 2022

Finally, some snow has hit the ground and it feels like winter. Winter hiking is pretty great, mostly because you sweat way less and there are fewer crowds. There were so few people on this hike to Estes Cone that we had to break the trail in the snow for the half-last mile to the summit after passing some out-of-towners that were doing it before we passed them. We unintentionally made them feel bad and slow when they asked us what time we started - Don't worry Washingtonians, this is a hard hike for even Coloradans. The snow was pretty light in some areas and knee-high in others, and combined with the rocky terrain, each step forward was a gamble on how far down you'd step. Maybe you would sink in 2 feet deep, or possibly land on a rock and twist your ankle, or hopefully the ground was flat and right under a thin layer of snow. The latter didn't happen very frequently. Because of those gambles, the stats for this hike are as follows:

Fall Count (Katie):5 (which averages out to less than once per mile!)
Fall Count (Noah):1 (butt didn't touch the ground, so I'm not sure it counts)
Bruised Knees (Katie):2/2 (Both of them! Ouch!!)
Bruised Knees (Noah):0/2

The day started with us driving into Rocky to try and park at Glacier Gorge to hike to Sky Pond. We got about half-way up the Bear Lake road when we saw the road was unexpectedly closed. RMNP is usually pretty good about posting road closures on their Twitter, which we checked when we had reception in Estes some 20 minutes prior and hadn't seen any notice of this particular closure yet. The ranger's best guess for when the road would reopen was going to be about 3 hours, so we quickly changed our plans and headed out of the park to get to the Longs Peak parking lot to do the hike to Estes Cone. On our way out, I got the Tweet notification that the road was closed - thanks for the late notice, RMNP... Then some 10 minutes later, I got another Tweet notification that the road was back open (so not the 3 hours that the ranger thought). I know the rangers and staff at RMNP are doing the best they can and isn't their fault, but this started our hiking adventure on a little bit of a sour note.

It's probably good we didn't do Sky Pond anyway since it's above treeline. There was a winter storm rolling over the mountains while we were hiking, and we hiked while it was snowing for most of the trip. Doing any hiking above treeline would have been absolutely miserable with the snow and wind. There were decent views up at the top of Estes Cone, but again, because of the storms, there wasn't that great of visibility and the wind didn't make for a good place to stop to eat lunch. The one good thing that I can say about this hike (other than the lack of people) is that it pushed our stats over the threshold for us to say that we've completed our New Years' Resolution. At the end of this hike, we have done 32,530 feet of elevation gain year-to-date, surpassing last year's 32,312 feet. We're only about 4 miles and 5 hours short of beating our mileage and hiking time stats from last year as well. We will definitely exceed those this year as well, but our New Years' resolution was to beat just one of our hiking stats from last year. Mission accomplished, now we can relax on our weekends instead and not have to hike at all the rest of the year, right?

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:6.38mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 16 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,116ft
Max Elevation:10,910ft

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Hiking Through Rocky - Oct 30, 2022

The weather this weekend was forecasted to be gorgeous in the mountains. And it was. The shuttles in Rocky Mountain National Park still run during the weekends in October (weather permitting), so we used that to our advantage which takes a lot of pressure off knowing if you'll get a parking spot at the exact trailhead that you want to do. We started our adventures by being the first car to park at the park-and-ride and hitching a ride on the shuttle up to Bear Lake. A ranger at the park-and-ride told us that there was still parking at Bear Lake trailhead, but we were planning a different kind of hike where we actually didn't want to park at Bear Lake, despite starting our hike there.

We parked at the park-and-ride because we ended our hike in Moraine Park. There is no shuttle that goes from Moraine park to Bear Lake, but both shuttles do go to the park-and-ride, so that's why we parked there. Because of the shuttle service, we were able to hike 10 miles across Rocky Mountain National Park without having to track back on the trails we hiked up, and we ended our hike in a completely different area than where we started. The hike started with slick ice, fresh snow, and cold weather. The hike ended with no snow in sight and us not wearing any of our layers other than our base clothing. We were well prepared for all of those conditions, which was good, but it was neat to have that varying degree (pun intended) of nature during our hike. We were also able to shave off strenuous elevation gain by making this a one-way trip instead of an out-and-back, only having to do 1,200 feet of elevation gain but almost 3,000 feet of decent. All of those things combined made this a pretty spectacular hike.

Our hike started at the Bear Lake trailhead where we went counter-clockwise around the lake. Bear Lake is always busy, but most people start their hike by going clockwise, so almost immediately we were hiking in what felt like a secluded area with few people which was great since we go into the mountains to be away from people anyway. From Bear Lake, we hiked up 1,200 feet in elevation to Lake Helene, which marked the high point of the hike. From there, we hiked down to Odessa Lake. This is where most people turn around and hike back up to Lake Helene and back to Bear Lake. But we continued on descending to Fern Lake, then down to Fern Falls, and concluded through Moraine Park where we hitched a ride from the Fern Lake Shuttle stop back to the park-and-ride.

The only downside to the shuttle service is that if you are planning to use them, you better make it back on at least the last bus. This added a little pressure to the hike, even though we still had plenty of time when we finished the hike to catch a ride. But because of this time constraint, we were constantly looking at the time to make sure we were on track to not get stranded in Rocky. Not only that, but the busses leave Fern Lake Trailhead (where we finished) once every hour, so at the end of the hike we pushed ourselves a little harder than we should have to make sure we didn't miss the bus and have to wait around for an hour. Our hustling got us to the bus stop 5 minutes before its scheduled departure (and 2-hours and five minutes before the final departure). I am still glad we hiked the end quickly to make sure we got on that bus rather than taking it easy and having to wait an hour for the next one.

Only because it turned out OK I have to point out that Katie went for an accidental swim in Lake Helene. We had no idea that we were walking on thin ice when her foot went right through the ice into the lake. Her foot got soaking wet. She trekked onward with squishy socks for the remaining 6+ miles even though it would have been quicker to turn around. This marks an important lesson in carrying some spare socks, particularly as the weather gets colder and hiking (or snowshoeing) turns from something you can get by being relatively ill-prepared to something that could be life-threatening in the wrong environment.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:10.11mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 45 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,365ft
Max Elevation:10,614ft

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Perfect Weather on Mount Ida - Oct 17, 2022

We got fortunate with the weather hiking to the top of Mount Ida. There wasn't a single cloud in the sky and considering this hike is mostly above treeline, the wind was minimal. The last time I hiked Mount Ida I remember it being so incredibly windy at the top with nasty storms rolling in (which is the last thing you want when you're on one of the highest peaks around and above treeline). So we were pleasantly surprised when we reached the summit and the sun was out without a single cloud in the sky and almost nonexistent wind. We came prepared for colder weather than this, with both of us bringing two jackets. Both jackets ended up being taken off quickly in the hike and were a little annoying to have to carry around, but it's better to be prepared than to be underprepared.

The hike started a little later in the day than we were hoping. We didn't leave the house until almost 10 am, and it took almost 2 hours to get up to Estes Park, into Rocky, and over the continental divide to the trailhead. The Trailhead for this hike is closer to the West-side of Rocky, which was apparent since we could see Lake Grandby from the summit. Because we got to the trailhead around noon, there wasn't very much parking. We had to park about a quarter-mile down the road from the trailhead which pushed this hike to be over 10-miles long, the second double-digit hike I've ever done. Even though we got started later than we wanted to, this almost 6 hour hike was completed before the sun went down and since we weren't fighting the weather, getting started that late didn't matter.

This was a very challenging hike. Although it's not the longest hike we've done together, it is the most elevation gain we've done. Combining the elevation gain of 2,600ft with the 10.5 miles of hiking and we were both completely exhausted by the end of the hike. The altitude also didn't help, since we hiked to almost 13,000 feet where there isn't very much oxygen. But we made it and the absolutely stunning summit was worth the pain.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:10.45mi
Hiking Time:5 hours, 47 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,589ft
Max Elevation:12,830ft

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Leaf Peeping in Nederland - Oct 2, 2022

It's the first weekend in October, which means that this might be the last weekend to see fall colors in the mountains. There will still be plenty of colors down in the foothills, but not the same kinds of colors that we get in the mountains. Primarily I'm talking about the Aspen trees which can grow in thick groves in the mountains and turn a vibrant yellow color. Fall colors seemed to be a little late this year, so there's a chance that the colors could be good next weekend, but we have plants that will keep us out of the mountains next weekend, and the colors will surely be gone the weekend after.

This is our second "hike" this weekend, which is rare. I put hike in quotes since neither of the trails we were on this weekend were very difficult. Our barometer for if something should be considered a hike is usually that it needs to be over 1,000 feet in elevation gain, but that isn't fair for snowshoeing where a moderately difficult hike might only be 800 feet in elevation gain. But I digress - with fall colors not lasting very long, we knew we had to go out to try and find some rich Aspen groves. Yesterday we found fall colors past their peak; today, we found fall colors not quite at their peak. It's so odd that the colors change in different areas (even though yesterday and today we were at similar elevations), but not knowing what the aspens will be like helps in the adventure of trying to find the perfect colors.

This hike started off with someone telling us there was a bull nose not too far from the start of the trail. This got us quite excited, but we never saw it. The temperature was about right for a moose sighting, but we figured it was probably too busy to see one. Then just a few minutes from our car at the end of the hike another group warned us that the moose was still roaming around. We extended our hike a little bit to try and find it, but the moose didn't want to be seen by us. We've seen plenty of moose this season, but it would have been really cool to capture one in the aspens. Maybe next year...

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Location:Nederland
Distance:3.69mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 57 minutes
Elevation Gain:331ft
Max Elevation:8,826ft

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Twin Lake Reservoir - Oct 1, 2022

Fall Colors have finally hit Colorado. We were a little early for fall colors in Rocky Mountain National Park last weekend and just a little too late this weekend in Pingree Park. Since fall colors tend to change first in the North, it's no surprise that Pingree Park was already past its peak, but it gave us some rich and deep oranges that you don't get until the trees are starting to die. But since the colors in Northern Colorado were starting to fade we'll try for somewhere South in central Colorado tomorrow. There is still plenty of color out there, we just have to find it.

Pingree Park is a lesser-known gem that's filled with Aspen trees. Since the area was burned in the High Park Fire in 2012 the area has had a little bit of time to recover. The first trees that sprout up from a burned area are usually aspens, and since it's been a decade since the fire there are a lot of new aspens growing everywhere.

Both times (July 2021 & June 2022) that we've hiked in this area I've noted the amount of aspens. Ever since doing those hikes, I've wanted to come back to this area for fall colors. We didn't do much for fall colors in Colorado last year because we had our East coast fall colors trip planned, so this was the first year since I've noticed those aspens that I wanted to take photos of the changing aspens. The area definitely didn't disappoint and this is absolutely on my list for years to come for fall colors.

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Location:Pingree Park
Distance:3.13mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 21 minutes
Elevation Gain:518ft
Max Elevation:9,427ft

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A Little Bit of Fall - Sep 25, 2022

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.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:2.51mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 53 minutes
Elevation Gain:610ft
Max Elevation:9,430ft

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Browns Lake - Sep 18, 2022

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.

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Location:Pingree Park
Distance:8.79mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 38 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,037ft
Max Elevation:11,316ft

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Roosevelt Ridge - Sep 11, 2022

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.

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Location:Rosevelt National Forest
Distance:2.60mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 31 minutes
Elevation Gain:830ft
Max Elevation:7,917ft

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Double-Digit Mileage Hike - Sep 4, 2022

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).

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Location:Cameron's Peak
Distance:11.18mi
Hiking Time:5 hours, 19 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,850ft
Max Elevation:10,747ft

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Mestaa'ehehe Mountain - Aug 28, 2022

We had a pretty busy weekend between going to yoga on Saturday morning, Participating in breaking a world record, Cirque Du Soleil on Saturday afternoon, this hike on Sunday morning/afternoon, and then engagement photos on Sunday evening. However, we still wanted to get out of the house to enjoy the mountains. Because we had lots of things going on, we picked a pretty quick hike that was supposed to be a little over 4 miles but ended up being just over 3. Mestaa'ehehe Mountain is in the I-70 corridor, a place we haven't hiked before. Just outside of Idaho Springs in the Mount Evans Wilderness area, Mestaa'ehehe Mountain has a fire tower at the top that people can rent out. No one was in the fire tower when we summited, but we were able to get up on the observation deck which was pretty neat. A little bit to the North from the fire tower there are some large cellphone towers and another area that we hiked to in order to get panoramic views looking North towards the Indian Peaks mountain range.

The hike was different than the typical hikes we've been doing. We usually don't venture this far South for hiking, and because of that, the mountain range was a little different than what we're used to. The most notable difference is that the Mount Evans area has much denser and taller trees. I'm guessing that area is a little bit older and hasn't been burned by a forest fire in quite some time (maybe because of people on watch at the Mestaa'ehehe fire tower), but it was interesting to hike in a different area of Colorado.

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Location:Mount Evans Wilderness
Distance:3.13mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 33 minutes
Elevation Gain:771ft
Max Elevation:11,470ft

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Triangle Mountain - Aug 21, 2022

We have been on a roll for doing challenging hikes, and our plans for this weekend were no different. We had our first double-digit mileage hike planned up near Camerons Peak, but after doing a quick weather check before heading out we realized that there were life-threatening flood warnings issued in that area for the early afternoon. Deciding that was a little too risky, we decided to pivot and hike Triangle Mountain which has always been daunting for us. Triangle Mountain is a daunting hike because of how steep it is. It's only 3 miles round trip, but in the 1.5 miles to the summit, there is almost 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Even though the area that this hike was in was also supposed to get some afternoon thunderstorms, it was a lot less risky because we would have never been too far from the car and because it's less than an hour drive to get to the hike. Because the hike was so short and it was quick to drive to, we were back home before noon - something that's never happened before.

Looking back on it, this isn't the steepest hike that we've done, so I'm not sure why it's been so daunting to us. This hike has almost the exact same steepness as Green mountain, around 400 vertical feet per mile, which we hiked in the winter (which is more difficult to hike because of the danger of slipping). I've also done 3 other hikes that were steeper than this, Lilly Mountain with 443 vertical feet per mile, and then of course the two 14'ers that I've done are at the top of the list with averages of 840 vertical feet per mile for Mt. Sherman, and 550 vertical feet per mile for Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross

This still proved to be a really challenging hike, despite it only taking a little over two hours to complete. We're not used to such steepness in our hikes and that made it a little bit unpleasant. We also weren't very high up (around 9,000 feet) so it was a little warmer than I would have liked it to be. There were some great views of the surrounding mountains, but with the sun pretty high in the sky most of the mountains were washed out. We've been hiking in such nice alpine areas lately that these views just didn't do it for us. But overall it was nice to get out and get some exercise, even if it's not a hike that we would probably do again.

The best part of this hike was that we were completely alone. Every other hike I've done there has been at least one other group of people on the trail at some point, but today we had Triangle Mountain all to ourselves. It's not a very popular hike because of the steepness and short distance, but I would have thought we would see at least one other group at some point because of how close it is to Loveland. But I won't complain about that, having a trail all to yourself is a pretty special treat, one I've been chasing for quite some time that I'm now glad to have accomplished.

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Location:Glen Haven
Distance:3.16mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 19 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,263ft
Max Elevation:8,348ft

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Hiking into Rocky Mountain National Park - Aug 6, 2022

I guess we didn't endure enough pain from pushing ourselves to the limits on our last hike since this weekend we decided to set a record for the longest distance that we've ever done together. We were in a much better mindset for this hike since we went into it knowing that it would be around 9 miles and 1,800 feet of elevation gain, and I think that made the hike easier in some ways, but we were still completely exhausted and dead by the end of the 4-and-a-half hour hike. Considering this hike was just a little bit longer in distance but just a little bit less elevation gain (1,800ft versus 2,000 feet), I'm pretty proud that we shaved off an hour of hiking from the hike to Diamond Lake.

On the hike up, the highlight was definitely seeing several moose. I saw 3 moose on this hike, first a cow and a baby, and then later a bull moose. Katie saw a fourth moose, a cow, but it ran behind some trees before I could see it. This brings my year-to-date moose sighting to 7 (up 350% from last year!) with plenty of time for us to spot some more before the end of the year. We came around a corner with a bull moose dangerously a few hundred feet up the mountain from us, and Katie didn't even see it. I managed to tell her to stop while I got a few shots of the bull moose's head before it started wandering off. That bull moose definitely didn't like that we were there, but it's lucky for us that he wasn't feeling aggressive and instead wandered into a denser area of trees. I wasn't sure we would see any moose on this hike since the hike started so late in the morning, around 10 am, and moose tend to be out early during the times of cooler weather. But luckily for us, since this hike started at 10,000 feet, it was a cool 60 degrees when we started the hike and it only rose about 10 degrees during the entire hike. That 10 degree differential was enough for no moose to be out on our return back from our summit, but we got to see some which is more than I could have asked for.

Once we got above the treeline - about half way up to the summit - the chance of seeing moose drastically decreased. Shortly after hiking above the tree line, we made it to the first small lake, Michigan Lake (not to be confused with Lake Michigan which is easily 10,000 times larger than the Michigan Lake we came across). At the lake, we forked towards Thunder Pass with the alternative route to continue on to Snow Lake. With the sun pretty high in the sky, the views at Snow Lake would have been washed out, and the reviews of Thunder Pass included panoramic views that we wanted to see. Thunder Pass is the border between State Forest State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, so once we got to the pass the views opened up and we could see a great deal more looking South into Rocky Mountain National Park. There was a sign marking the boundary, and we crossed over to the Rocky Mountain National Park side to be able to say that we were in Rocky Mountain National Park without paying any fees or having a timed entry permit (although that's not 100% true since it was a $9 fee to get into State Forest State Park). The panoramic views were exceptional and we knew we made the right choice by going to Thunder Pass instead of Snow Lake.

On the way back we humored ourselves that we could do the quick hike to Snow Lake. That idea was quickly squashed when we had to go up a very slight incline that wasn't more than 20 feet of ascent. With our muscles protesting, we knew we should head back. Maybe someday we'll get a double-digit (10+ miles) hike in. We were only 3/4 mile from achieving that today, but we'll save that record for another hike.

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Location:State Forest State Park
Distance:9.28mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 27 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,880ft
Max Elevation:11,383ft

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Pushed to Our Limits - Jul 17, 2022

We set out to do a pretty moderate hike for our level: a 5 miles, 1,200-foot elevation gain hike to Diamond Lake. We made it to our destination but decided to keep hiking to the upper Diamond Lake based on a recommendation from some other hikers at the (lower) Diamond Lake. They told us that it was worth at least hiking up to see the wildflowers halfway to the next lake, so we continued on the hike. What was planned to be an extra mile to see the flowers turned into us hiking all the way to the Upper Diamond Lake which nearly doubled the mileage and elevation gain from the (lower) Diamond Lake.

Our day started out like any other hiking day - waking up somewhat early and heading to the trailhead. We left by 8:30 and started on the 2-hour trip to the 4th of July Trailhead just outside of Eldora. We had no idea to expect the road to be closed at Nederland Highschool, and we were told the parking lot was full. However, we were told we could wait in line for parking spots that become available as hikers left. Thinking that there would be a wave of early-morning hikers finishing up around now, we decided to get in line. It was around 10 am, and we waited about a half-hour for the 5 cars in front of us to be allowed up to the trailhead before we were allowed to drive up as well. We got to the trailhead much later than we expected - around 11:30 - but I can't complain since we got a parking spot. Overall, that was one of the best parking experiences I've ever had when parking at an incredibly busy trailhead.

It's not often that our hikes take up the entire day. We typically have some time in the evening to do some chores or relax a little bit. And because of this, we had many other plans for our afternoon and evening other than just this hike, but since this hike was a 2 hours drive each way (plus waiting for a parking spot) and hiking for nearly 6 hours, this took up the entire day with us not getting home until 7:30.

So far, I've only complained about this hike. Obviously, if this hike wasn't that great we wouldn't have continued on from the first lake. The weather was a little warm in the 70s but overall that's pretty acceptable for a hike in mid-July. Besides seeing 4 alpine lakes on this hike, we also saw quite a variety of wildflowers flourishing everywhere. It's not really wildflower season anymore so it was nice to see this many wildflowers on a hike. In addition, we saw many cascades and waterfalls much larger than anything we've ever seen in Colorado before. There aren't many waterfalls in Colorado, so to have gotten to see so many - including hiking across one - made this hike pretty special. Additionally, the hike wasn't all that bust considering that we had to wait for parking. We same a few other groups of people from the trailhead to the first lake, but then we saw almost no one beyond that. This is important to how much we like a hike because we hike to get away from people. So this hike checked all of our boxes and then some. There are other hikes in this area that we definitely want to come back and do, but there's a pretty large barrier with the parking situation that we might wait a little bit before attempting another in this area.

Because of how difficult this hike felt, I decided to pull some statistics about our hiking, as well as, my all-time statistics. Comparing this hike to other hikes, I found the following:

  • Katie and I have only done 2 other hikes with more elevation gain than this one (Gray Rock: 2,421ft and Crosier Mountain: 2,162ft).
  • This is the second longest mileage that Katie and I have ever done during a single hike, only second by a mere 100 feet (0.02mi) to Button Rock Mountain.
  • This is the longest time we've spent hiking before.

I'm not quite sure that this being our longest hike is a good thing. That mostly shows that we were slower today than some of the other similar distance and elevation gain hikes. But even If I look at my all-time records, this hike still fairs pretty well as one of the hardest hikes I've ever done:

  • 12th for elevation gain.
  • 4th for distance.
  • 2nd for time.

Although apparently, I've done quite a few more hikes with lots more elevation gain in my life than this one. But it's still impressive based on distance and time.

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Location:Nederland
Distance:9.15mi
Hiking Time:5 hours, 41 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,955ft
Max Elevation:11,397ft

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Montgomery Pass - Jul 4, 2022

We tried to go camping this weekend but were thwarted twice. Both Katie and I had a 3-day weekend with the 4th of July on a Monday this year so it was a great opportunity to get out and camp. Trying to take advantage of the 3-day weekend, we booked a small yurt outside of Georgetown to do some glamping. We haven't done too much hiking in the I-70 corridor, so we thought this would be a good home base to get out and explore the area. This would have been our first time going glamping, but due to too many guests prior to our arrival lighting illegal campfires, the fire marshal shut down their Airbnb operation a week before our stay.

We got a refund for the Airbnb and started planning where we would go camp instead. We really wanted to camp in that same area, but since we live in Fort Collins, it would take us longer to get to that area than people coming from Denver, and we didn't want to risk getting to that area and having no place to camp, particularly since it was a holiday weekend. So we planned on going the opposite direction and looked in Routt National Park on the Wyoming side. This was still a 3-hour drive but isn't very close to any major cities. We made our plans and started getting excited when Thor (one of our 3 cats) started getting sick...

Thor finally started feeling better on Saturday morning, but because of everything going on with him, we decided to just stay in town so we could keep an eye out to make sure his recovery continued. He finally started acting like a normal cat again by Monday, but his condition wasn't worth risking being out of cell reception camping all weekend and the pet sitter needing to contact us.

With our camping plans canceled, again, we knew we still needed to get out of the house to hike at least once. Monday was looking to be the best day for hiking from a weather perspective, so we waited all weekend before getting out into nature to enjoy the last bit of our 3 day weekend. We picked Montgomery Pass because we wanted to get away from other people to try and stay in the camping spirit. We drove 2 hours up to Cameron's Pass and started our hike from the Zimmerman Lake Parking lot. The hike started out a little strange. Everything was wet and damp. Colorado hiking, no matter where you are, is usually pretty dry, but this area of the mountains get a lot of afternoon thunderstorms and a lot of snowmelt. Now that it's July, things in the foothills are starting to die and turn brown, but on the Montgomery Pass trail, everything was so green. So green that it felt like we were hiking on the East Coast again with all the moisture.

After hiking through the dense wet forest, there was a little opening that gave us a preview of the views that we were going to see at the summit. That preview was a stunning opening in the trees, although the view was incredibly misleading. Once we hiked another quarter-mile and got above the tree line we were treated to gorgeous rolling mountain peaks covered in grass and millions of wildflowers. There were so many flowers that we struggled to take steps without trampling on them. The trail split with trails going in both directions to the tops of nearby peaks, down their saddles, to other peaks, down the saddles, and so on for as far as we could see. We choose to go to the South because the first mountain from the split in that direction was taller and less distance. As we climbed up the views kept getting better and better until we found a nice spot to sit and eat our lunch. Considering the trail was exposed, the wind wasn't too terrible, and we ate our lunch just off the top of the last peak that we visited.

We hiked back down and started unpacking when someone else in the parking lot started screaming about a moose. This got our attention and sure enough, despite this guy yelling at the top of his lungs about them, there was a small herd of moose just inside the trees from the parking lot. There were five in total, just eating the greenery and ignoring all the humans. We spent a little bit of time watching them but kept our distance.

We will definitely be coming back to this area to do more hiking, and might even try this same hike but try and make it to more of the mountain peaks. Even without visiting more peaks, this was a challenging hike being around 1,400 feet of elevation gain in just 5 miles. So we might need to get into better shape if we want to visit some of the other peaks next time. Even though it was challenging, it only took us 3 hours to complete.

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Location:Poudre Canyon
Distance:5.10mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 1 minute
Elevation Gain:1,381ft
Max Elevation:11,243ft

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B-17 Crash Site Hike - Jun 18, 2022

It's been a while since we've done a real hike, so we wanted to get into the mountains and get back in the groove of things. The weather this weekend wasn't very cooperative, but we decided to go out and risk it anyway. The area that we wanted to hike in, Pingree Park, had a chance of rain all day but only 0.06" of rain was predicted, so we figured we would risk possibly having to end up hiking in the rain.

The drive to Pingree Park takes almost 2 hours from our house, mostly because the last 10 miles are on a dirt road. we got to the trailhead around 11 am and started on what would become a three-and-a-half-hour hike that took us through a beautiful area of Rosevelt National Park. The last time we were here (and the only other time I've been in this area) we were planning on doing this hike to the B17 crash site but we ended up taking the wrong turn and did a different hike instead. Ever since that hike last year I've wanted to come back to this area because it's such a peaceful area. Since it's so far from any city, most people don't hike up this way, which showed since we only saw three groups of people on the hike.

The hike started in poor weather. It was in the low 60's, quite windy, and starting to spit rain a little bit. We threw on our rain jackets and started the hike knowing that the weather would clear up since it was pretty light in the Western sky. It didn't take long for the weather to change from almost uncomfortably cold to hot with the sun beaming down on us. That's just part of the fun of hiking is having to take some risks when it comes to the weather. Luckily, the sun didn't stay out during the entire hike, but instead, it was partially cloudy the whole hike. The temperatures grew about 10 degrees during the hike and the wind stopped, making the start of the hike slightly uncomfortable from it being too chilly to being slightly uncomfortable from being too hot.

We got to the crash site around 12:30 and saw and ate our packed lunch. After lunch, I wandered up higher to get a better view of everything. There were quite a bit of airplane parts scattered around the area. There were 3 engines, both landing gear wheel assemblies, a big chunk of the deck that runs through the center of the plane, and a few other random assemblies and parts scattered here and there. There wasn't enough metal scattered around to make up a whole plane, so I speculate that after the crash some parts were air-lifted out of there to prevent things like oil and gas from leeching into the ground. Even though I was hoping to find more parts, it was still fascinating to see the carnage so spread out and to see what assemblies survived the crash and what didn't.

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Location:Pingree Park
Distance:6.30mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 38 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,240ft
Max Elevation:10,294ft

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Quick Hike to Coyote Ridge - Jun 12, 2022

Having gotten back from our tip in pretty good shape from all the walking, we wanted to get out this weekend to try and retain our leg muscles. Katie was meeting up with a friend at 11, so we knew that we had to do something relatively close in order to make it back in time.

We've done this hike a dozen times, but it's a good one because it's a 10-minute drive from our house, it's pretty low in elevation gain (only 600 feet), but still a decent distance (4 miles). We got to the trailhead around 7:30, and it was already in the 70-degree temperatures. The temperature rose about 10 degrees during the hike, which made this a really hot hike. Luckily there was a slight breeze at the top of each ridge that we passed which helped with the heat.

About a mile into the hike, I saw a Garter snake in the bushes that ran right in front of us (and Katie even stepped on it by accident). We haven't had to worry about snakes on any of our other hikes because it was too early, but now that we're getting into the heat of the summer that's something that we need to pay attention to. That garter snake put us on high alert and that was good since there was a rattlesnake just 20 feet from where we saw the garter snake. The rattlesnake was coiled up in the middle of the path and started rattling at me right when I saw it, and I stopped and took a few steps back and it calmed down. Despite having hiked almost 300 hours in Colorado and over 500 miles, this is the first rattlesnake that I've ever seen in Colorado. I attribute that to the fact that I'm not usually hiking at low elevations like this hike. Most of the hikes I go on are above 8,000 feet which is not rattlesnake territory.

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Location:Fort Collins
Distance:4.03mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 29 minutes
Elevation Gain:587ft
Max Elevation:5,801ft

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Anemone Loop - May 14, 2022

It's been too long since our last hike, but that's how life goes. Our lives are filled with other activities and busy with other things and we haven't had time on any of the other weekends to go out hiking. But we're maintaining at least a hike each month so far, which I can't ask for too much more. Although somehow in February we squeezed in a hike each week for a total of 4 hikes that month, but I guess we were just overachievers that month...

It's been a while since we've hiked in Boulder, and soon it will be too hot to even attempt hiking in Boulder. We went to a new trail that opened earlier this year - the Anemone Loop. The city of Boulder did a good job with this trail, and it was a lot of fun to hike this loop which gave us some great views looking in all directions.

We got to the trailhead around 9am, and started on the hike that ended up taking less than 2 hours. The parking lot surprisingly wasn't packed full which is the biggest unknown when it comes to hiking in Colorado, so we were glad to get a spot. The hike took us through some rock formations known as the Red Rocks that I had no idea existed in Boulder. They were slender rocks standing straight up which reminded me a lot of Devil's Backbone area in Loveland, although the Red Rock in Boulder didn't have nearly as many of these rocks as the Devil's Backbone area.

From the Red Rocks Trail, we headed West to the Anemone Loop trail where we hiked counterclockwise around the loop. We made it to Anemone Point which had great panoramic views of all of Boulder and all of the Western mountains.

Overall, it was a good hike that I would recommend to others. The temperatures were already quite high (upper 70's) for my liking, but I guess it is nearly summer, so I can't ask for much when hiking at only 6,000 feet.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:4.28mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 50 minutes
Elevation Gain:965ft
Max Elevation:6,125ft

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Stunningly Devastating - Apr 17, 2022

I've wanted to go back to Storm Mountain ever since we hiked it in the spring of 2020. It was such a gorgeous hike with decent views (particularly on the drive to the trailhead), it's in a secluded area where we wouldn't be around too many people, and not too far of a drive from our home. But with the Camerons Peak fire engulfing that area shortly after we hiked it in 2020, we weren't able to get back there until now. This area was just starting to recover from the South Canyon Fire in 1994 before getting scorched again in 2020 from the Cameron Peak fire. Although I don't know how bad the area burned in 1994, it seemed like the Cameron Peak fire did much more damage to this area.

The weather was a little more cooperative this time compared to when we hiked it in 2020. With less snowfall in the area this spring the trail was almost completely dry with just a few areas with a small amount of snow on the trail. I would have rather had the snow and gone snowshoeing, but when we hiked this last, we were underprepared without snowshoes even though we were in desperate need of them. So being able to hike on the muddy ground made it a much more pleasant hike that allowed me to focus on the devastated burned area.

We were hiking along the steepest section when we finally rounded a corner and the elevation gain flattened out for a little bit. It was only after we were able to catch our breath and actually look up instead of starting at the ground that we realized we hiked into the first burned section along the trail. We could see some of the fire damage in the distance from the beginning of the hike, but we weren't anywhere near it until almost a mile into the hike. I remember this hike being covered in dense trees at almost every point during the hike, but now we had almost wide-open views except for the slender burnt trees that were once covered in pine needles. It was truly a surreal experience none like I've ever experienced before. I hope this area gets a little more time than 16 years before its next fire.

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Location:Rosevelt National Forest
Distance:5.16mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 8 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,437ft
Max Elevation:10,008ft

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Hewlett Gulch - Mar 27, 2022

It's been a long time since we've gotten to go into the mountains. Shortly after our last excursion, Katie got Covid and although it wasn't severe, she was quarantined for 2 weeks. The first week that she felt well enough to go out we couldn't hike because we had tickets to go see Hamilton at the Buell Theater in Denver. So this is the first week that we had free to hike again.

Since we haven't been hiking in a while, we decided to push ourselves with an almost 9-mile hike with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Not hiking in over a month meant that we were out of shape, but we struggled on to complete this hike in 3 and a half hours. I have only hiked Hewlett Gulch one other time back in 2019, and I guess we were in better shape since it took us 30 fewer minutes back then. Nonetheless, we were both surprised that we made it the whole way without turning back since this hike is about 2-3 miles longer than anything we've done in quite a while.

This hike isn't my favorite for photography. I actually struggled to get some photos on this hike, although I knew that already since this is the second time I've hiked here. Hewlett Gulch doesn't have a summit to hike to, instead, you're hiking between some mountain peaks. That doesn't mean the scenery isn't beautiful, but there's something weird with the lighting that makes the surrounding mountains always washed out. I think there would be better lighting on an overcast day, but since it was fully sunny, I feel like I didn't get very good photos.

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Location:Poudre Canyon
Distance:8.77mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 25 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,322ft
Max Elevation:6,893ft

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Dangerous Hike To Lake Haiyaha - Feb 26, 2022

Rocky Mountain National Park had forecast the weather pretty low, but it was a clear and sunny day so we figured we'd hit the mountains for some snowshoeing. We wanted to hike in the Bear Lake area, so we decided to set an alarm and get to the trailhead early, around 8:30 in the morning. When we arrived there were still plenty of parking spots indicating that we probably could have slept in a little longer. With the stream of cars coming in behind us, I'm sure the parking lot was filled 30-45 minutes after we arrived, and I'd rather be early than fighting for a parking spot. The hike started in just barely double-digit temperatures, but with strong winds, the temperature when accounting for windchill was probably closer to, if not below, zero. There was one time during the hike when my wrist temperature (measured by my watch) was below freezing. My wrist is pretty exposed when hiking, but having skin exposed to freezing temperatures for an extended period of time is pretty dangerous.

That's not entirely why I titled this post a dangerous hike, though. The most dangerous part of this hike was trekking along very steep ridges where one misstep could result in sliding 100+ feet down the mountain. That's not too different than most of our mountain adventures, but the loose and freshly blown snow made it extremely difficult to know where to step so that you kept solid footing. We only ended up slipping a few times, but never tumbled more than a few feet (luckily). On the way back we did see some indications of people who had unintentionally slid off the trail in some areas so the danger was real (even though they all seemed to make it out okay).

Because of the strong winds, the trail to Lake Haiyaha was pretty non-existent in some areas, and if you match our taken path to the actual trail, we were way off trail towards the end of the hike. We hiked so far off the trail that we ended up shaving off about a half-mile from the expected hiking distance. But there's really no danger in hiking off the trail as long as you know where you're going, which we did, and coupled with a GPS device, we were confident we could get back. However, since I titled this a dangerous hike, I might as well point out that because of the extreme cold, my watch rendered the battery dangerously low (electronics don't like the cold) and threatened to shut off a few times. It never did shut off, and we weren't too concerned since there were other hikers around us during most of the hike.

The lake itself was hard to see. The winds were so strong at the lake that the snow hitting the small slivers of exposed skin on our faces felt like getting impaled by sand. We really only stayed at the lake for a few moments to take a couple of photos and then got out of there quickly. I'm sure the lake area was gorgeous, but we didn't spend enough time there for me to think much about anything other than turning back. But that's okay because the real beauty in this hike was on the steep ridges that were dangerous to snowshoe across. We would get an opening that showed amazing views looking North to South. The sun washed out most of the peaks in the South, but the views to the North and East were spectacular and well lit. Those views showed a different part of the park than we're used to that was special to see. We need to come back on an overcast summer day to get the photos looking South, but the views were great nonetheless.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:3.75mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 36 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,194ft
Max Elevation:10,255ft

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Sprague Lake - Feb 20, 2022

We headed into Rocky to get in another winter hike. Our plan was to start hiking from Bear Lake, but the road was blocked with a ranger right at the turnoff onto Bear Lake Road. I guess it was good that someone was right there telling us to turn around instead of wasting the 20-30 minutes driving up to Bear Lake and realizing that there is no parking, but I also like to think that we get lucky more often than not when trying to find parking at some trailhead along Bear Lake Road.

With our backup hike also along Bear Lake Road, we had to turn to our third backup, which was hiking to Sprague Lake from outside the park. There was irony in this since the easiest way to get to Sprague Lake is to drive to it from Bear Lake Road, but it's more satisfying to be able to earn the view. This is especially true since the best view of the hike wasn't even at Sprague Lake, which only had views of the mountain peaks surrounding the Bear Lake area. The best view was from the Glacier Gorge campsite which provided an unobstructed view of both the mountains surrounding the Bear Lake area and the Mummy Range.

This was the hardest hike we've done this year. We have done one hike this year that was more distance and elevation gain, but we were underprepared for this hike. We figured since there had been no snowfall in over a week in this area and since we started at a relatively low elevation that we wouldn't need our snowshoes. While that was true for about 95% of the hike, the remaining 5% where we needed snowshoes was pretty brutal without them. Every step would be a gamble with the snow Gods on if we would posthole down to our knees, which happened pretty frequently in certain parts of the hike.

One of our New Year resolutions was to beat one of our hiking stats that we did last year. 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)

Last year was a crazy hiking year that included 2 hiking trips, and this year we don't have any trips planned specifically for hiking, so we thought that trying to beat just one of the above stats would be a good goal. Here's our current year to date statistics for the year:

Hike Count Distance Hiking Time Elevation Gain
7 29.6 miles 16hr 37min 6,289 feet
Year to date hiking stats (Jan-Feb 2022)

The above tables don't really mean anything without comparing them to where we are in the year. We're 2 months into the year, or 17% of the way through 2022. If I compare 2021 to 2022, you can see that we're above 17% for distance, hiking time, and elevation gain, meaning that if we keep going at the pace we're going, we should be able to easily complete our New Year resolution.

Hike Count Distance Hiking Time Elevation Gain
15.6% 19.1% 19.4% 19.5%
2022 progress benchmarked against 2021 as the goal.

This analysis fails to show how our hiking changes over the year. This is by far the most winter hiking I've ever done, and when we hike in the summer there isn't very much more hiking that we can really do since we're hiking nearly every weekend. So basically we would need to keep up this pace all year long to accomplish this New Year resolution which I'm not sure is possible. Not having those 2 hiking trips that we had last year, I doubt that we'll beat the number of hikes goal (and these numbers support that), but I'll have to see how the other statistics progresses throughout the year.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:5.07mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 53 minutes
Elevation Gain:951ft
Max Elevation:8,955ft

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Green Mountain - Feb 13, 2022

The mountains didn't get a lot of snow over the past week, but Boulder did, so we headed up to Boulder to hike on some fresh powder. Even with the recent snowfall, we hiked with micro spikes, but we didn't need our snowshoes. Our original plan was to do Green mountain from the West parking lot which is only about 700 feet of elevation gain, but because there were no parking spots at that trailhead, we had to start a little lower which resulted in us doing twice the amount of elevation that we wanted to (in the same amount of distance). We took it easy last weekend, so it was probably good to have pushed ourselves a little on this 3.3 mile hike with almost 1500 feet of elevation gain.

There weren't that great of views during the hike, except for an occasional couple of mountains from the Indian Peak range or parts of Boulder through some trees. But once we got up to the top, the views were stunning of the Indian Peaks. There was even a little map at the top to help show you what peaks you were looking at. The only peak that we really know in this area is Longs and Meeker, so having the map definitely helped me identify some of the lesser-known peaks.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:3.33mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 10 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,476ft
Max Elevation:8,209ft

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Bald Mountin - Feb 6, 2022

The mountains didn't get any snow this week, so we opted to do just regular hiking instead of snowshoeing. If we tried to go snowshoeing it would have been packed and icy, so we chose to stay a little bit lower in elevation (around 8,000ft) rather than going to our normal snowshoeing spots (around 10,000ft). We picked Bald Mountain which is up Boulder Canyon about 15 miles. Our hike started at the Sugarloaf Mountain trailhead and started off by hiking along the road for the first mile before the turnoff to go up Bald Mountain. The hike posed the entire 900 feet of elevation in the 3/4 of a mile once we turned off the road, which was quite the elevation to do trekking through the snow. Our assumption of not needing snowshoes was a good assumption. There were a few spots where snowshoes could have been helpful, but overall not having to carry the snowshoes up with us was the right decision.

The weather was pretty decent for us, partly cloudy and in the mid 20's (°F) with very little wind. Off to the East was clear and blue skies, but towards the Indian Peaks to the West were pretty harsh snowstorms that made for some pretty spectacular views being able to see a very drastic change in the weather just by turning your head. The storm got so bad that by the time we left the summit that we couldn't make out any of the Indian Peaks at all anymore. We didn't stay up at the top of Bald Mountain for too long because of the storms, even though they were pretty far away and didn't pose a real immediate threat, but the storms were pushing in just enough wind to make it uncomfortable to stay at the top. Despite the windchill, we stayed up at the summit long enough to eat our lunch before heading back down to the car.

The hike ended up being a little less than 4 miles round trip with about 900 feet of elevation gain. The whole hike took up just over 2 hours. Someday we will come back to hike up Sugarloaf mounting which is an even easier trail with less distance and less elevation gain.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:3.73mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 3 minutes
Elevation Gain:892ft
Max Elevation:9,253ft

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Brainard Lake - Jan 23, 2022

We're on a roll - This is week 4 of 4 in the new year that we've gone snowshoeing.

Niether one of us had hiked in the Brainard Lake area before. We knew that the winter was our only chance at going since there are timed entry permits required in the summer, so we decided to head up that way this weekend. There wasn't any fresh snowfall, but there was snow two days prior, and some of that fresh powder was still on the ground. The first half of the hike from the car to the lake probably didn't require snowshoes, but the second half of the loop from the lake back to the car definitely needed snowshoes.

The weather was cooperating for the first half of the hike. There was no wind at the beginning of the hike, and then all of a sudden once we got to the lake it was gusting pretty hard for the remainder of the hike. Even though it was windy, the lake itself was gorgeous. I was worried about the lighting since we got to the lake midday, but the sun was perfectly and evenly lighting the surrounding mountains without making them hazy.

I would definitely like to come back to the Brainard Lake area again. It seems like unless you can snowshoe 8+ miles, there isn't a whole lot of trails to do, so this might be something that we wait until next year or the year after to come back to, or maybe come try it in the summer (since it's easier to hike long distances than snowshoe long distances).

The hike itself ended up being a little over a mile longer than we expected, and we could feel that extra mile in our legs by the time we got back. This is one of the hardest hikes we've done in a long time, but the views were worth it. One thing we did wrong was followed the summer trails, which put us on a ski-route-only trail for about a mile. I've never run into a ski-specific trail before, but a few skiers stopped to nicely tell us we were on the wrong trail, and we were able to hop off the trail and get back on the proper snowshoeing-only trail. But the next time we come to this area we need to double-check the distances of the hike we're attempting and double-check which route we are allowed to be on.

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Location:Brainard Lake
Distance:6.57mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 5 minutes
Elevation Gain:932ft
Max Elevation:10,251ft

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Icy Hike to Bierstadt Lake - Jan 16, 2022

The weather has been great so we wanted to head up into the mountains for the 3rd weekend in a row. In fact, we're 3-for-3 for hiking on the weekends in 2022. That won't last for long, but we've been taking advantage of the unusually great weather during the weekends while we can. There hadn't been any recent snowfall, which doesn't make it great for snowshoeing, but since it was forecasted to be sunny with little wind, we figured why not go and try and snowshoe to Bierstadt Lake. This was the hike that we were planning on doing last weekend, but when we got hit with an unexpected road closure, we had to pivot to a different area of the park.

Every time I've ever driven past Bierstadt Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, the lot has been full. It's the 3rd parking lot from the top, so it usually fills up pretty quickly, particularly since it only has 12 parking spaces. Since Bierstadt Lake was our destination, that was our first pick for a parking spot. Our contingency was to start at Bear Lake (which also likely would have had a full parking lot), and our plan C was to start at the park and ride parking lot. We somehow managed to get a parking spot at Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, so we grabbed the last parking spot, considered ourselves lucky, and started the hike.

The views from the hiking trail were pretty spectacular. The whole way up we had clear views looking East to West, being able to make out many of the peaks along the Continental Divide. We got started with our hike a little earlier than normal, around 10 am, so the sun was still low enough to get some shots of the Western Peaks, but not any decent photos of the peaks looking due East or South. With no snowfall in over a week, the trail was packed down and icy, but that didn't stop us from snowshoeing it. Because it was practically ice, I think we would have had better balance with just crampons, but when we got to the lake we were finally in some snow where the snowshoes were necessary. The first views that we got from the South-West end of the lake were pretty disappointed because you couldn't really see anything beyond the lake and the surrounding trees. It wasn't until we hiked to the East side of the lake that we got gorgeous views of the lake with Hallet Peak in the distance, as well as Otis Peak, Flattop Mountain, and Ptarmigan Point.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:3.28mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 14 minutes
Elevation Gain:712ft
Max Elevation:9,361ft

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Deer Mountain - Jan 9, 2022

The weather was just about perfect for snowshoeing. There was snowfall during the week and this weekend it was forecasted to be sunny in Rocky with minimal wind and above freezing temperatures. We've been wanting to get out and snowshoe some more now that it's finally snowing in Colorado. We've only received two decent snowfalls in the foothills now, and prior to that, the high peaks just had a slight dusting on them, so this was really our first chance to get to enjoy the snow.

We always plan multiple hiking contingencies when going into Rocky Mountain National Park because the ability to park where we want to is always a gamble with their small parking lots (relative to the demand, at least). We started heading towards Bear Lake hoping to get a spot at one of the major 3 parking lots along the way, just to find out that the road was closed before we even got a chance to do not only our first or second choice of a hike, but also our third backup. Frustrated with the road closure, we quickly pivoted to try and find something else. At that point, we had been in the car for over an hour and a half, so we knew we had to do at least something, so we headed to the Deere Mountain trailhead. There isn't a lot of parking at that trailhead, but we managed to get a spot and we started the hike.

We were only originally planning on doing a 3.5-mile hike, and Deere Mountain is 6 miles round trip, so right off the bat, we knew that we weren't going to finish the hike. The hike started out completely snow-packed with absolutely no need for snowshoes. There were several points where we were walking on the dirt and there was just a dusting of snow on the trail. After about a half-mile into the hike, the snow started getting thicker and the snowshoes were necessary. So at least we did find a hike where we did need our snowshoes.

We ended up making it about two-thirds of the way to the summit of Deer Mountain for a round trip total of just under 4 miles and 1,000 feet of elevation gain. the hike took just love two and a half hours including stopping on the way up for lunch.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:3.88mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 37 minutes
Elevation Gain:988ft
Max Elevation:9,659ft

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Bobcat Ridge - Jan 2, 2022

We finally got our first snow of the season. It was quite a bit late, but we've been wanting to go do snow activities for quite some time now. Our original plan was to go up into the mountains and do some real snowshoeing, but since we had just driven 5 hours the day prior on icy roads back from the mountains, we didn't want to have to drive that far on potentially on slick roads. We decided that we needed to get out and enjoy the sunny weather, so we headed to Bobcat Ridge, an area that we have both explored on our own, but never together. Bobcat Ridge was an area that was engulfed in flames during the 2019 Cameron Peak fire so we wanted to check it out to see what kind of damage was done to the area. We only did the valley loop, which like its name suggests, is in a pretty open area, so there wasn't a whole lot to burn. We passed by a few patches of burned trees, but the lower areas of Bobcat Ridge seemed to be pretty unscathed from the fire.

There were about 6 inches of snow on the ground, and initially, we started the hike without even our microspikes thinking that it would be trampled down enough for us to hike on. Once we got off the pavement (which is about a quarter-mile from the road) we realized that we did need our microspikes and went back to the car for them. Including our half-mile out and back to get our microspikes, the hike was 3.75 miles long and took about an hour and a half. There was only about 400 feet of elevation, but everything is harder in the snow, something we often forget. I wouldn't call this challenging, but the snow definitely added a layer of complexity that we haven't experienced since the last snowshoeing season. Hopefully, soon we can get up into the mountains and do some real snowshoeing.

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Location:Loveland
Distance:3.78mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 33 minutes
Elevation Gain:338ft
Max Elevation:5,264ft

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2021

Valley View 2021 - Dec 31, 2021

For the changing of the New Year, we spent some time up at Valley View Hot Springs on the South-West end of the state. We've celebrated the New Year up here once before, and it's a great way to ease into the New Year - relaxing in some hot springs and being in nature. This year was quite a lot different than the last time we were in this area in winter because of the lack of snow. This time there was just a small dusting on the ground, compared to a couple of years ago where there was several feet of snowpack on the ground. It's been quite a dry winter, but we were lucky to have gotten a snowstorm while we were there. The snowstorm wasn't that big at the hot springs itself, but when we got back home there was around 6 inches on the ground, which is much-needed moisture for this area.

We hiked up to the collapsed mine and bat caves like we always do (although the bats aren't there in the winter). The views were pretty spectacular, and because of the storms rolling in, I got some great shots of one of the nearby mountains getting hammered by snow. We hiked further than we typically do just to get up a little higher which was exposed and extremely windy. The extra portion of the hike past the main cave added some pretty steep elevation gain in a short amount of distance, but I think the views were worth both the extra difficulty and the excessive wind.

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Location:San Luis Valley
Distance:4.47mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 49 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,152ft
Max Elevation:9,718ft

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Trekking Through The Forest - Nov 28, 2021

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.

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Location:Allenspark
Distance:3.88mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 23 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,132ft
Max Elevation:9,220ft

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Bridal Veil Falls - Nov 7, 2021

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.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:6.35mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 42 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,093ft
Max Elevation:8,829ft

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Last Day of the Trip - Oct 11, 2021

Today was the last day of our fall colors trip. After hiking at least once per day for over a week, we were completely exhausted. We picked out something easy for the day, which was seeing the highly touristy High Falls Gorge that you pay to get into and only have about a half-mile walk. The falls were uneventful and we felt like they were overhyped by marketing tactics, but they were still neat to see. The afternoon we spent in the downtown area of Lake Placid and did a little shopping for souvenirs, and then in the evening, we did our final hike of the trip: Up Haystack mountain.

This is the second Haystack Mountain that we've hiked on this trip. As our last hike, it was also the longest hike that we did, with a round trip distance of 5.5 miles. It was just over 1,000 feet of elevation gain, so it wasn't the highest hike we climbed, but it still was exhausting particularly since we've been hiking for over a week. The views were pretty good at the top with a few obstructing trees, but the lighting was bad. The hike would have been better in the morning for sunrise golden hour, or to watch the sunset. When we got to the summit (around 4pm), the sun was too high in the sky and washed away most of the views. The hike was still good, but both of us were excited that we wouldn't be hiking for a little bit after we completed this one.

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Location:Adirondaks
Distance:5.45mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 26 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,011ft
Max Elevation:2,834ft

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Balanced Rock and Cobble Lookout - Oct 10, 2021

Today was our first full day in Lake Placid. We started off the day with a pretty tough hike to Balanced Rock, which gives a great view of Cascade Falls, the two Cascade lakes (upper and lower), as well as the High Peaks area. The hike was incredibly steep in a couple of spots, but we managed to make it all the way up to the top in about an hour. The hike was a little over 3 miles round trip and 1,200 feet in elevation gain. The summit was gorgeous, but the trees seemed like they were already past peak with many of them dead and not much color variety other than yellows and browns. When we drove into Lake Placid, we saw a lot of red varieties, so we were thinking this area would be perfect, but I guess that particular mountainside wasn't.

Since we knew that there were great colors in the Adirondacks, we ventured further North, closer to the route we drove in on where we knew we could find some red colors in the trees. Our evening hike was Cobble Lookout, which was an easy 2.5-mile round trip hike with only a couple hundred feet of elevation gain. The summit was a gorgeous 180-degree panorama that viewed East, South, and West and had all the colors that we were hoping for. The trees on this hike were still past peak colors, but not by too much and all we really cared about was seeing come color variety. The sun was behind clouds which made for even lighting across all the mountains to get a great photo. We spent a half-hour hiking to the summit, and half-hour enjoying the view, and then another half-hour driving back into town. Knowing that the colors are great in this area, we picked that area for the following day, which is our last full day of hiking.

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Location:Adirondaks
Distance:5.79mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 53 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,595ft
Max Elevation:3,021ft

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Headed to the Adirondacks - Oct 9, 2021

Today we headed to Lake Placid for our Adirondack hiking with was the final segment of the trip. We drove for about 2 hours to get to our first hike of the day. The drive consisted of taking a boat Ferry, something that Katie has never experienced and I have only experienced when I was younger (I think). We got to our first hike of the day in New York which was the Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower trail. After signing into the hiking register, we learned that the locals just call it "Poko" for short, and that seems like an appropriate abbreviation. The hike was good and had great views, but because it was the middle of the day, the lighting wasn't great around us. The summit was extremely windy, so we didn't stay too long, and the observation deck on the fire tower was closed (although you could walk up the steps and get an even better view of the mountain).

Since we had quite the drive to get there, we were hiking pretty late in the day, and we failed to get lunch before the hike and ended up having a very late lunch that we were both pretty hungry to eat. Our lunch was at 2pm and was at a random pizza shop in a nearby town where we got New York Pizza. On our way from the hike to Lake Placid, we stopped at the Jay Covered Bridge, which is the only remaining covered bridge in Upstate New York. It was a gorgeous area, but a powerline right across the bridge ruins the photos. We got creative and were able to take a few, but I wouldn't recommend this stop to any photograhers for that reason.

We didn't have a lot of time in the evening for another hike before the sun went down, so we went to the High Peaks Wilderness area and walked around Heart Lake. The lake doesn't look like much of a heart shape, although the path that we took ended up looking like a better heart than the actual lake itself. The "hike" was pretty easy and flat and gave us a good chance to stretch our legs out before heading to dinner.

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Location:Adirondacks, Upstate New York
Distance:5.45mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 38 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,500ft
Max Elevation:2,219ft

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Full Day in Vermont - Oct 8, 2021

Today was our only full day in Vermont. In the morning, we woke up for a quick hike up Spruce Peak to get a panoramic shot of Mount Mansfield. The views were pretty good, but the mountains around here weren't nearly as vibrant as New Hampshire, and I think that's because of the increased number of pine trees mixed in on the mountains. One thing that was strikingly different during this hike was the smell of pine trees during the hike. Vermont has trees that everyone associates with Pine trees (and Christmas), as opposed to the pine that we're used to in Colorado being more like a faint vanilla smell. So that provided for a unique hiking experience that we weren't used to. On our way back to the trailhead, we headed down a small 0.1 mile detour to get to Sterling Pond. Sterling Pond was a nice pond and a good stop, but it wasn't all that interesting since the sun was facing the wrong way and because there weren't any color-changing trees around the lake. The hike ended up being just under 3.5 miles and was 1,200 feet in elevation gain.

We then started to relax for the remainder of the day by first stopping at the Ben and Jerry's factory in Stowe. They weren't doing any tours due to renovations, so we just got some ice cream and went on our way to Burlington. In Burlington, we walked along Church Street which reminded me a lot of Pearl Street in Boulder. We went to a couple of breweries and came to the conclusion that no one in the East knows what a good beer is. Breweries here seem to just brew the classic german beers and IPAs and don't do anything too wild or experiment. There's nothing wrong with that, but those types of beers aren't all that exciting to us. In the late afternoon, we walked along the Colchester Causeway for about a mile which is a bike path in the middle of Lake Champlain. We ended the evening by having dinner at the Shanty by the Shore which had a fantastic view of the sunrise. The food was good, but not worth the 45-minute wait to be seated.

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Location:Long Trail State Park
Distance:5.41mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 17 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,280ft
Max Elevation:3,256ft

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On to Vermont - Oct 7, 2021

Today was our last day in New Hampshire. We woke up and packed our bags and headed to one more hike before leaving the state. We picked The Nubble on haystack Mountain because it was a pretty easy hike, only 3 miles long and about 600 feet of elevation, and had great reviews of full panoramic views at the top. After driving up the highway, the trailhead was down a dirt road and very secluded which felt really good to get away from all the people. When we parked, there were only 3 other cars there, and we only passed one person on our way up and 2 groups on the way back down. The trail was so seldomly used that at some parts we weren't sure where the trail even was, which made us happy we were truly hiking in the middle of the mountains. The summit was truly incredible and you could see for hundreds of miles in every direction and the mountains were filled with colors. We even got some fog coverage low in the distance, which is something really weird to experience but provided some nice texture to the photos.

our afternoon consisted of driving to Vermont to the Smugglers Notch area. There isn't a lot of hiking in this area, so we opted to keep it pretty short of a stay here. This area, at first glance, seems to be a lot more touristy than where we were in New Hampshire, which is a little bit of a bummer, but the views so far have been pretty spectacular. Our evening hike was planned to be Plot Road to Roundtop Shelter based on a photo of a panoramic view. This hike was a little over 2 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain which seemed like a pretty easy hike for what it was promising us. When we got to the shelter, there was a bench overlooking the Western mountains that were mostly blocked by trees. It wasn't much of a panoramic view, and we later realized that the picture we saw was actually for a different hike.

The climate of Vermont is different than New Hampshire. It's lower in elevation, by about 1,000 feet, and it's a lot dryer. When we were hiking, the ground was actually dry in spots and the leaves crunched under our feet. We figured that the hiking would be pretty similar everywhere in the New England area, so it was a pleasant surprise that there are some differences in the area.

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Location:Long Trail State Forest, White Mountain National Forest
Distance:5.52mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 37 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,352ft
Max Elevation:2,752ft

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Kancamagus Scenic Highway - Oct 6, 2021

Our morning started almost 2 hours before sunrise. The morning was supposed to be sunny and clear, so we wanted to get to our first destination, Lonesome Lake, before sunrise to catch the golden hour on the lake and mountainside. When our alarm went off at 5:00 am, I walked outside, noticed it was completely overcast, and we went back to sleep. We woke up at a more reasonable time (although still early) and headed to the trailhead.

The hike up to Lonesome Lake was extremely challenging. The hike is only about a mile and a quarter to the lake, but almost 1,100 feet in elevation gain. It was straight up for that entire time. For our skill level, a hike like this would usually be moderately difficult, but since we did a similar hike the day prior, we were pretty sore and tired and took our time making it up to the lake. The views at the lake were worth the pain and difficulty, and we had the lake almost completely to ourselves other than a couple of other fellow hikers. The lake was mostly still with an occasional breeze that would make the water shimmer, and the weather stayed overcast which made for even lighting all across the lake and surrounding mountainside.

The afternoon consisted of a 100 mile long drive through the Kancamagus Scenic Highway that took about 4 hours including stopping in many places to take photos and eating lunch in Conway, NH. The views were breathtaking and completely unreal. We, just like many other people, were complete tourists gawking at the beauty of the White Mountain National Forest driving along the Kancamagus Highway. We stopped along the way at many of the scenic overlooks to take a few photos, wherever we could get a parking spot. The sun started to come out in the afternoon which just amplified the vibrance of all the fall foliage.

We enjoyed the drive so much that we went back to a specific overlook on the Kancamagus Highway to watch the sun go down. It was the only time during our trip that the sky was completely clear, and the only time we had wished there were at least some clouds in the sky for a better sunset. Even though going back for sunset photos was a bust, we still enjoyed the sunset together. This was our second day in New Hampshire in the White Mountains area, and even though it feels like we just got here, we head on to Vermont in the morning.

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Location:Franconia Notch State Park
Distance:3.75mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 24 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,024ft
Max Elevation:2,707ft

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Franconia State Park - Oct 5, 2021

Our trip to the East coast started with a flight to Boston. Flights are always pretty terrible for me since I'm tall, but we spent a good majority of the flight entertaining ourselves by studying up on portrait photography. Right before the trip, I purchased The Photographer's Guide to Posing by Lindsay Adler that we read to fill our time on the plane. One of the things Katie and I love doing together is taking each other's photos, so I figured we could use some technical reference and background to understand what makes a good pose and how to direct one another in the poses to be more photogenic. We both really liked the book (and would recommend it) since it provided examples of photos that had problems with them and then showed corrected photos and very specifically told you what the problem was and why it was a problem.

Our flight got in around 6:30PM local time, and Boston is too far South for any colors to have popped yet, so we proceeded to drive North. After driving for over 2 hours, we made it to our destination, an Airbnb in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. We were driving in the dark, and because of that, we had no idea what we were in for from a fall foliage perspective, which was the main focus of the trip. It wasn't until the morning that we really knew what we were working with.

With the morning forecasted to be overcast, we knew there would be no sunrise so there was no point in waking up early. It was nice to have gotten to sleep in and recover from the long day of traveling. We picked out our morning hike to be a moderately difficult hike to Mount Pemigewasset in Franconia Notch State Park which is almost 4 miles round trip and 1,300 feet of elevation gain that took us a little over two and a half hours. The hike to Mount Pemigewasset didn't disappoint us as the first hike of the trip. We hiked through the dense forest with no overlooks or any indication of where we were going until we hit the summit, and then all of a sudden there was a gorgeous panoramic view of the White Mountains filled with colors. The fall colors weren't quite peaking in this area yet, but the colors were still gorgeous and much more vibrant than what we're used to. The hike was extremely familiar to the ones we're used to hiking in the sense that you're hiking up to a summit on dirt, rocks, and over tree roots through trees and that you might not get any views until you're at the top. But that's where the similarities end with hiking on the East Coast versus in Colorado. Because the East Coast is much more humid than Colorado, we didn't have to try hard to find mushrooms and fungus growing on things. Mushrooms are rarety on Colorado hikes, but in New Hampshire, they were literally growing out of the middle of the hiking trail. The humidity also made it much trickier to hike because it made the rocks very slick, something we're not used to in the dryer climate of Colorado. It was neat to have an experience like this that was similar to our previous hiking experiences but completely different at the same time.

Since we did a moderately difficult hike in the morning, our afternoon hike was planned to be an easy one - the one to Artist's Bluff. The weather was forecasted to be clear and sunny, so we planned to do it during the golden hour, but the forecast was wrong and there were heavy clouds sitting low on the hillsides when we got there. The low clouds ended up providing for a cool perspective and good framing for the photos. The hike was only about 1.5 miles round trip and only a couple hundred feet of elevation gain, but it was deceptively challenging. It poses most of that elevation gain in such a short distance that the steps are incredibly steep and on very uneven and slippery terrain. We went the wrong direction around the loop that we intended, but luckily that way that wasn't nearly as steep since it was a longer distance to the top of Artist's Bluff. The only downside to doing the loop in the wrong direction was that we didn't get to go to the top of Bald Mountain, which was a small offshoot from the trail. The trail was pretty busy, including multiple professional photographers at the bluff taking photos of clients. Even though it was busy, the views were as great as the countless photos we've seen online.

One of the main reasons that I like to hike is that you get to explore the more obscure areas that most people don't typically get to see, but with something as popular as this hike, you're doing a hike to get the same photo as everyone else, and I can always guarantee that someone else has a better photo of it. Not necessarily because I don't think I'm a good photographer, but locals can get the perfect shot consisting of the right fall foliage colors and the right lighting by going back to the same spot multiple times on multiple days. It's not to say that I didn't enjoy the hike or get a great shot, but it's lacking the uniqueness that I like to capture in my hiking photography.

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Location:Franconia State Park
Distance:5.23mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 53 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,654ft
Max Elevation:2,478ft

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Colorado Fall Colors - Sep 26, 2021

The last weekend in September is usually the best time to see fall colors in Colorado. That weekend was still almost a full week from the end of the month, and because of this I think we were a little early, but that's okay because getting perfect colors wasn't really the point of this mountain excursion. We went up into the mountains to try out a couple of new lenses that we recently purchased for our upcoming fall foliage photography trip to the East Coast. Since colors were peaking in Colorado before we left for our trip, we figured we better go and shoot with our new glass so we know what to expect. I bought the Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 wide-angle lens and Katie bought pretty much the exact same thing but for her Nikon, a Nikkor 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

We picked the Silverdale Interpretive Site (just outside of Georgetown) like we had done the previous year because it was familiar and we knew it would be an easy "hike". This area has many different trails that you can make this as short or as long of a hike as you want. Since we only had the opportunity to go hiking in the evening due to other plans the rest of the weekend, it was important to not have a long or unknown hike that would have landed us in the dark as we hiked back to the car.

After a pretty lengthy drive (2+ hours), we got up to Georgetown about an hour and a half before the sun set which is typically about perfect from a lighting perspective. Unfortunately, the lighting wasn't actually perfect because of a large cloud that was covering the sun during the entire photo shoot, and even sprinkled on us a little bit. The cloud may have blocked golden hour lighting, but at least we didn't have to work around any harsh shadows. After the sun set, we drove the 2 hours back home. It was quite a bit of driving for such little time in the mountains actually shooting, but the photoshoot was worth it to try out the new lenses.

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Location:Georgetown
Distance:2.02mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 41 minutes
Elevation Gain:276ft
Max Elevation:9,345ft

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Moose at Cub Lake - Sep 19, 2021

Today we ventured into Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time of the summer. That seems a little odd since summer ends in a few days but we completely avoided the park all summer long on purpose because of the new timed entry system. In a couple of weeks we should be able to get into the park without making a reservation, but this weekend we wanted to go up there and I was able to get a reservation despite them being sold out within minutes. I was originally trying to get the 9am time slot, but when I tried to add that pass to my cart literally seconds after they were available, they were gone. Instead, I was able to get a 11am reservation successfully added to my cart. That gave us a little more time in the morning to get ready and it was okay since the weather was forecasted to be clear and in the mid 60's all afternoon. The only drawback to getting to the trailhead so late was the location of the sun which doesn't provide the best lighting for taking photos, but it was either that or hiking outside of Rocky Mountain National Park.

After waiting in line to get into the park for about 20 minutes, we made it to our destination, Cub Lake Trailhead in the middle of Moraine Park. We got extremely lucky that there was a parking spot literally right in front of the trailhead. There seemed to be a few other parking spots along the way, so it wouldn't have been too terrible to park down the road, particularly since when you make a loop out of this hike you end up hiking a mile along the road which means it doesn't matter where you truly start the hike. The hike started off exciting with a herd of elk; one bull, and maybe a dozen cows were just a few hundred feet from the trailhead. We knew something was up since there were so many photographers on the trail. We just thought it was a particularly busy trail, but luckily for us, the trail wasn't too busy after we got past the herd of elk. This was the first time that I have ever regretted not bringing my telephoto lens with me on a hike. Usually, hikes are about landscapes, not wildlife, and my telephoto lens is heavy and bulky. Oh well, it's only a herd of elk, it's not like it's anything special like a moose (yet...).

The wildlife got a little less exciting on the way to the lake, however still more exciting than most hikes. We followed a wild turkey for about a hundred feet as he ran from us by using the trail, probably not realizing that we too were following the trail. About a quarter-mile from the trail we passed a group of hikers who were extremely excited to tell us that there was a moose at Cub Lake. I tried to not be too excited, especially since we weren't at the lake just yet. When we passed another group of people a little closer to the lake and were told again that there was a moose, that's when we knew that there was a great chance we'd see it too. Just like everyone promised, when we got to the lake there was a massive bull moose just on the other side of the lake eating some lunch. While the moose sat and ate his lunch, we sat and ate ours while watching for him to do something, and I again was disappointed that I did not have the right lens with me.

We sat at the lake for almost an hour, mostly waiting for cloud coverage to try and get some better lighting on the moose. Luckily I had at least my 50mm prime lens with me, which was the most "zoomed-in" lens I had with me (which is a little more zoomed in than the naked eye). There were massive clouds to the West and the wind was pushing them to the East, however, they kept splitting and going both North-East and South-East, but never directly East to cover us the sun. There were multiple times we were completely surrounded by clouds, but nothing directly above us covering up the harsh sun. So after an hour of waiting, we decided to carry on, and then immediately after we started hiking the sun was covered up for about 30 seconds with a random cloud that we didn't see coming. I guess I can't complain too much, I did get to see a moose, afterall.

The rest of the hike did not disappoint. We got to hike through a section of burned area that was recently burned last year during the Cameron's Peak fire, as well as being on top of a highly exposed ridge that gave us spectacular views to the North. Unfortunately the lighting was never that great because of the location of the sun, but that didn't make the views any less spectacular, it only made the photos less spectacular (which is your problem, whoever is reading this, not mine). The hike ended up taking us almost 3 and a half hours, including our hour lunch break, which is pretty great time for a 6.3 mile hike that had 1,000 feet in elevation gain.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:6.32mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 21 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,001ft
Max Elevation:8,726ft

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Granite Ridge - Sep 5, 2021

It's finally not the hottest month anymore, so I think it's time we get back into doing some hiking. Don't get me wrong, it's still pretty hot in September, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it would have been last month hiking in the Red Feather Lakes Area. We picked this hike out based on it being in our current skill level and because literally everywhere else has adopted a really terrible timed entry system that's ruining one of the great benefits of living in Colorado - being able to go into the mountains whenever I feel like it and not having to worry about making a reservation.

But I digress, This hike was an alright hike that was a little over 6 miles but under 1,000 feet in elevation gain. I was hoping for better views but there were trees in the way for most of the shots. The trail that we picked didn't have a defining ending point, we just wandered in and ended up making a loop out of the hike by taking Lady Moon trail South until it met up with Granite Ridge Trail which we turned West on, and then looped back on the Molly Moon Trail back Lady Moon trail which took us right back to the parking lot. But because there was no summit, there was no real spot for panoramic views or a great spot to eat our lunch.

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Location:Red Feather Lakes
Distance:6.34mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 29 minutes
Elevation Gain:824ft
Max Elevation:8,612ft

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Lake Agnes - Jul 25, 2021

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.

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Location:State Forest State Park
Distance:2.96mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 11 minutes
Elevation Gain:787ft
Max Elevation:10,907ft

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Jewel Lake - Jul 24, 2021

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.

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Location:State Forest State Park
Distance:4.83mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 47 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,365ft
Max Elevation:11,228ft

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State Forest State Park Camping - Jul 23, 2021

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.

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Location:State Forest State Park
Distance:1.20mi
Hiking Time:28 minutes
Elevation Gain:102ft
Max Elevation:8,899ft

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Accidental Hike Towards Stormy Peaks - Jul 17, 2021

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.

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Location:Pingree Park
Distance:6.18mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 8 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,148ft
Max Elevation:10,141ft

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Raining Hike in Estes Park - Jul 3, 2021

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.

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Location:Estes Park
Distance:3.72mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 36 minutes
Elevation Gain:643ft
Max Elevation:8,675ft

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Wildflowers at Coyote Ridge - Jun 21, 2021

A few weeks ago I biked along Coyote Ridge to the Prarie Ridge Trail and noticed an abundance of wildflowers. Sure there are wildflowers everywhere in Colorado, but I wasn't expecting the number of wildflowers and the variety so close to the foothills. So I knew that I had to come back to this spot at some point to take some photos. Even though it took several weeks before Katie and I had a chance to go out to take photos of the wildflowers, they did not disappoint. Just in the few weeks between when I first noticed them and when we got out, they had already changed so much.

Wew actually attempted to go out shooting twice, two days in a row. The first evening we got there way too late and by the time we had hiked to the large patch of flowers, it was already too dark to take good photos. The next evening we went a little bit earlier, however, it was overcast so we still didn't get great lighting (although much better than the night before), and it was really windy which made shooting in low light that much more difficult.

The last thing about this hike worth mentioning were the rattlesnakes. This was prime rattlesnake territory, and taking photos of wildflowers requires you to go a little bit off the trail. We didn't venture too far, but we were definitely cautious and luckily never ran into any wildlife.

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Location:Fort Collins
Distance:2.99mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 23 minutes
Elevation Gain:302ft
Max Elevation:0ft

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Venturing on Forest Roads - May 29, 2021

The weather over Memorial Day weekend wasn't looking that great, but we knew we wanted to get out and enjoy the great outdoors on our 3-day weekend. Saturday had the lowest chance of rain, so we decided that was the day we were hiking. Rain wasn't supposed to start until mid-afternoon, so we figured if we got to the trailhead by late morning that we would be okay. The trail we chose was hiking up a bunch of forest roads that are typically used for offroading. However, there were some recent reviews on hiking websites that said the OHV gate was closed, which meant that it would be perfect for hiking without all the 4-wheelers trying to run us over. The trail we picked was hiking up to Panorama Peak which starts at Pole Hill Road just outside of Estes Park. We built it up in our heads as something that would probably have pretty awesome views at the summit. That build-up lead us to disappointment at the summit where there were so many trees that you couldn't get a clear view of the surrounding mountain ranges.

As we walked up to Panorama Peak, we noticed an observation tower. We thought it was pretty awesome that there was a public tower in the middle of Rosevelt National Forest. But we quickly realized that it was locked and we couldn't go up. We later found out it's owned by a local OHV company. So in order to get panoramic views at Panorama Peak, you have to pay an OHV company to drive you up there. Oh well, there are other places that we can get panoramic views for free that people can't simply pay someone to drive up to.

The hike itself was pretty great other than the summit. This hike is right outside of Estes Park and its peak tourist season, so we were expecting to have to fight for a parking spot in the small, half-dozen car lot. But as we drove up, we found 2 other cars there. Since the whole point of hiking is to get away from everyone, we both thought this was great, and didn't see a single person on the hike except at the summit (where there was an OHV tour group that we presume got to go up the tower).

The 3-mile hike to the summit included some great views of still snow-capped Longs Peak through the trees and views of the Mummy Range. As the storms rolled over the mountains, we got to see all different types of lighting, ranging from fully sunny to very stormy over Longs Peak. But luckily for us, the storms parted as they went over Estes Park and we didn't get a single drop of rain during our 3 hour hike. We intended to head to the Notch as well on this hike, which would have only added a mile onto the hike, however, we missed the turnoff onto FDR 247D. After the hike, we looked it up and saw the road was at the bottom of the large meadow we passed through, and the photos I took confirmed that there was a road there, but it was completely fenced off.

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Location:Estes Park
Distance:6.25mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 41 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,155ft
Max Elevation:9,267ft

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Picnic at Realization Point Via Gregory Canyon - May 23, 2021

We headed into Boulder this weekend for some hiking. This is the last week that you can park around Chautauqua for free since they charge for parking during the summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day. We decided to go up Gregory Canyon and loop back on the Ranger trail, but by the time we made it up the steep incline up Gregory Canyon to Realization Point, we were both pretty tired. We ate our lunch at a picnic table and headed back down the mountain.

I've hiked this before and I think my reaction was about the same in that it's pretty boring to hike to another parking lot. I like hikes that you can't simply drive to, so the summit wasn't all that great. However, since we had sandwiches with us and spent about 20 minutes at the top resting and enjoying our lunch, it felt like more of a hiking picnic than a real hike.

The hike took us a little over 2 hours to do the 4 mile round trip hike, including a 20 minute lunch break. The total elevation was just under 1,200 feet.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:3.91mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 14 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,168ft
Max Elevation:6,723ft

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Bitterbrush Trail at Hall Ranch - May 15, 2021

We ventured into Lyons this weekend to do a little bit of hiking. Our original destination was the Antelope trailhead nad to do Antelope, Bitterbrush, and the Nelson loop, but the parking lot was completely full when we arrived. It was no surprise since it was about 10:30 in the morning and since that trailhead literally only has 5 parking spots. So we decided to drive to the Bitterbursh trailhead instead, a quick 5 minute detour. However, starting the hike from Biterbrush instead of Antelope added some length to the hike, so we decided to turn around at Nelson Loop, which ended in a 7 mile hike with 1100 feet of elevation gain. Even though there was more that could have been hiked, this was a pretty exhausting and lengthy hike for us, considering it's been almost a month since our last hike.

The trail itself was great. There was a nice mix of open meadows and some rocky terrain. There wasn't any tree coverage for shade, but we didn't need it since it was overcast the entirety of the hike. It was pretty humid though since we've been getting a lot of rain. The humidity was out of character for Colorado hiking and added an extra layer of difficulty to this 3-hour hike. Additionally, this trail is mountain bike central apparently, so every 20 feet we had to step off the path to let some bikes go by. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but there were a lot of bikes and it got pretty obnoxious. So for that reason alone, I don't think we'll be heading back to this area anytime soon.

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Location:Lyons
Distance:7.06mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 47 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,106ft
Max Elevation:6,255ft

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Zimmerman Lake - Apr 18, 2021

It was a snowy week, so we thought that maybe we'd be able to get in one more snowshoeing trip of the season. To do this, we knew we had to get up high and saw that Zimmerman Lake was forecasted to get 7 inches of snow so that was our destination. Zimmerman Lake is a pretty easy hike, less than 3 miles round trip and less than 500 feet of elevation gain, but it starts at an elevation of 10,000 feet which makes it a little more challenging. We probably didn't need snowshoes for most of the hike because the trail was snow packed and icy since it last snowed on Friday and we went hiking on Sunday.

When we got to the trailhead after driving for almost 2 hours, it was starting to get cloudy. Storms move quickly at that elevation so we knew that it would either clear up or we'd get caught in a snowstorm. It was lightly snowing when we got to the trailhead but decided to do the hike because the hike wasn't that long. The snowing stopped, but the storm completely covered Cameron's Peak, which was the main thing we wanted to look at during the hike. Cameron's Peak was just recently in the news for being the starting point of the worst fire in Northern Colorado burning more than 200,000 acres over the course of 6 months. We figured Zimmerman Lake would have been hit hard by this fire, but it was completely intact and unharmed, which makes sense now that I think about it since it's the only trail open along the Poudre River. There were lots of bare and charred mountains around us, but the mountain that Zimmerman Lake was on remained untouched and safe to hike.

The drive up towards Cameron's Peak was pretty saddening. The Cameron's Peak fire destroyed so many trees, including some right next to the highway that haven't been cut down yet. It was quite surreal. But I guess that's nature's way of clearing out the forest to make room for new trees to grow. The saddest part, though, is that now every trail along the Poudre River is hiking through a burned area, either from the High Park fire in 2012 or now from the Cameron's Peak fire. But I guess burned areas are beautiful in their own way.

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Location:Poudre Canyon
Distance:2.77mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 35 minutes
Elevation Gain:463ft
Max Elevation:10,469ft

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Miller Rock - Apr 11, 2021

We made it out to the mountains after taking a weekend off since our trip to Moab. We wanted to pick a hike that wasn't too terribly difficult from an elevation standpoint but had a decent length to it and Miller Rock fit the bill. The hike was a little over 6 miles and was supposed to be right at 1,000 feet in elevation gain but it ended up being over 1,200. But maybe the elevation discrepancy was because we didn't do the real loop, we turned around at the summit instead of continuing but we ended up finding another loop back to the main trail. The hike took a little under two and three-quarter hours.

This hike ended up being pretty great because it was a gorgeous area that followed a stream for about half of the hike, which was partially frozen over. The river was flowing strong from the snowmelt and it would duck into ice tunnels where you couldn't see it at all but you could still hear it. The other great thing about this hike was the spectacular views at the summit. There were absolutely no panoramic views until you scrambled to the top of Miller Rock. And it was a scramble. There was no defined way to get to the top but we did a little bit of climbing and made it up with only a little bit of struggle. But that scramble made the view all that much better since all we could see up until reaching the summit was just trees and the river.

At the summit, there was a spectacular view of both Longs Peak and the Twin Peaks, which I feel is something that you don't get a view of both of from the same summit. So I thought that was a pretty great view to see two enormous peaks, all in one view.

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Location:Jamestown
Distance:6.22mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 44 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,266ft
Max Elevation:8,666ft

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Funnel Arch and Longbow Arch - Mar 25, 2021

We went to Moab to explore the area and do some photography exploration over a week-long period. We arrived late on Sunday and left early on Friday which gave us 4 full days of hiking in this beautiful area. The weather cooperated most mornings and a few evenings for golden hour photography, but we got a variety of lighting from overcast, snowing, foggy, and full sun. In total, we hiked a little over 30 miles and over a mile in elevation on this trip. We came to the same conclusion that our favorite type of hiking is the type where we're alone or hiking with very few people so that we can enjoy nature to the fullest extent, as well as get a perfect photo with no one in it.

Thursday was our last full day in Moab, and we weren't too sure if the weather would be permitting us to do very much because the forecast had light rain the entire day. Because of this, we decided to sleep in and start the day whenever we got up. We didn't leave the hotel until a little after 8 and even then we were pretty slow to get going. Our first stop of the day wasn't even to an arch, but instead to Faux Falls, a manmade waterfall that was created to divert some water. The falls were kinda cool, but the hike itself and the fact that it was manmade made it pretty boring, especially compared to all the cool natural features that we've been seeing all week.

Our second trip of the day was over to Funnel Arch which requires a pretty steep scramble to get to. When we go to the area that we had to climb up, there was a tour group coming back down that was using ropes to repel down the section that we climbed up and down with no problems. It was definitely more rock climbing than scrambling, but it was a fun experience and not terribly dangerous. When we got to Funnel Arch, we were the only ones there, which is our favorite type of destination hike. We shot some photos of the arch in both directions (definitely better shooting from the North looking South through the arch), and I decided to climb around the backside to get on top of the arch. Since this arch was in the BLM lands, there were no restrictions on climbing ontop, and in fact, this arch even had some clip-ins specifically for repelling down through the arch. It was a pretty steep slick rock face that was incredibly exposed to get to the top of the arch, but I made it up and back down without falling to my death. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have done that without ropes, but that's a lesson learned for the next time we're in this area. Funnel Arch might be my favorite arch of this trip from a non-photography standpoint. The rock climbing and the great secluded views made it pretty awesome.

After taking a break in the middle of the day, the final destination of our trip was Longbow Arch. This one was also out in the middle of nowhere which meant once again, we'd get to hike alone. When we got to the arch there was a group leaving which left us the arch all to ourselves. We spent half an hour up there and on our way out, we passed a group of hikers heading to the arch and we were able to give them the same enjoyment that we had of being alone at the arch. Longbow arch isn't terribly photogenic since there's a wall of rick right behind it as well as the lack of great lighting (this arch faces North, so our overcast hike was probably the best lighting that this arch gets). It was a good hike and we were glad we did it, but it wasn't as spectacular as some of the other arches that we did yesterday (Corona Arch) or this morning (Funnel Arch).

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Location:Moab BLM, Moab
Distance:4.8mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 4 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,191ft
Max Elevation:5,218ft

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Landscape and Corona Arch - Mar 24, 2021

We went to Moab to explore the area and do some photography exploration over a week-long period. We arrived late on Sunday and left early on Friday which gave us 4 full days of hiking in this beautiful area. The weather cooperated most mornings and a few evenings for golden hour photography, but we got a variety of lighting from overcast, snowing, foggy, and full sun. In total, we hiked a little over 30 miles and over a mile in elevation on this trip. We came to the same conclusion that our favorite type of hiking is the type where we're alone or hiking with very few people so that we can enjoy nature to the fullest extent, as well as get a perfect photo with no one in it.

Wer're right at half-way through our trip at the start of this day and we're pretty exhausted. But we're here so we knew we had to venture on. Because the forecast for our last day was looking pretty bad, we decided to try and do all the things we had left on our list today. The morning started out early, which resulted in us getting to the Devil's Garden area before anyone else to make sure we were at Landscape Arch before the sun came up. We ended up getting there a little too early and waited around for about an hour at Landscape Arch before the sun finally broke through the clouds and above the large rock features to the East of the arch that was providing shade to it. I'm not sure that this arch even gets to benefit from a golden hour, but as soon as it lit up we got some good lighting that we took some photos and continued on.

We didn't intend to keep hiking past Landscape Arch, but Double O Arch was only one more mile from where we were, or so the sign said. It was closer to 1.5 miles, but we didn't know that when we decided to keep going. We didn't have adequate footwear or water (because we weren't planning on continuing on) which definitely made this hike harder than it should have been. Double O Arch was just as I remembered it 7 years ago in that it wasn't very photogenic. I don't think there's a time where the arch is ever fully lit up, so there were some harsh shadows on it. But the hike to get there was pretty scenic with Fin Canyon just to the East of us. Knowing that I wasn't going to get any good photos of Double O Arch helped me enjoy the hike a little bit more.

We took a pretty large break in the middle of the day. The morning hike was over 5 miles and resulted in us being outside for over three hours, so we knew we had to rest up to do another somewhat lengthy hike in the evening. Our evening plan was to head over to Bowtie Arch and Corona Arch which is supposed to get good evening golden hour lighting. This time, we decided to grab some sandwiches to take with us since all our evening hikes have started around 5 and we haven't gotten back into town until about 8. We got to the trailhead and hiked up to the arch and it did not disappoint. Corona Arch is in a pretty open area and we got there about 45 minutes before sunset which gave us plenty of time to take photos of both sides of the arch and eat our dinner and relax while the sun went down. I ended up running back and forth between the East and West side of the arch, and the map reflects that craziness that is being a photographer.

Of all the places we went on this trip, both Katie and I liked Corona Arch the best because of the spectacular sun setting views and also the lack of people. We definitely went on hikes with fewer people, but the people that we encountered were other photographers (who stayed out of our way) or courteous picnickers (who also stayed out of our way).

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Location:Arches National Park, Moab BLM
Distance:9.31mi
Hiking Time:5 hours, 34 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,476ft
Max Elevation:5,486ft

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The Small Hikes - Mar 23, 2021

We went to Moab to explore the area and do some photography exploration over a week-long period. We arrived late on Sunday and left early on Friday which gave us 4 full days of hiking in this beautiful area. The weather cooperated most mornings and a few evenings for golden hour photography, but we got a variety of lighting from overcast, snowing, foggy, and full sun. In total, we hiked a little over 30 miles and over a mile in elevation on this trip. We came to the same conclusion that our favorite type of hiking is the type where we're alone or hiking with very few people so that we can enjoy nature to the fullest extent, as well as get a perfect photo with no one in it.

We did so many little hikes on our second full day in Moab. We started pretty early to try and get some earlyish morning photos, but the sun didn't come out. In fact, it started snowing as we were driving through the park and was snowing pretty hard as we got to the far end of the park in Devils Garden. But we were there and we're in Moab to hike, so we got out of the car and headed to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch, which were a short half mile to get to. The snow wasn't ideal, but the temperature wasn't too terrible and there was a slight breeze but overall made the hike pretty tolerable. Tunnel arch wasn't much to look at, and neither was Pine Tree Arch, but we did get some cool views of fog rolling through the area we were hiking.

After leaving the Devil's Garden area, we stopped quickly at Skyline Arch, which is right off the side of the road and I wouldn't even consider a hike.

We moved onto Sandstone arch and Broken Arch after that which was the first real hike of the day at just over 2 miles long. It was still snowing when we started the hike, but only barely so. By the time we finished the hike, the sun was starting to peek out of the clouds. Sandstone arch is very aptly named since you hike through very thick sand that holds your feet down as you take each step. It wasn't very far, but the sand makes it much harder to walk. The hike to Broken Arch was different from the rest - we hiked through a prairie instead of between canyons or walls of sandstone. There were great views in every direction of the hike, including being able to see Broken Arch the entire time. When we got to Broken arch we wandered around to the backside and got a bunch of different views. Right before we left, the sun lit up the prairie behind Broken arch for us to get a well-lit photo.

We then went back to the Windows area to try and get some better photos from a lighting perspective. With the sun being covered by clouds, we figured the photos would be different than the first day of this trip when we walked up to the Windows. We were also able to get some better photos of Turret Arch since the sun was still in the East and that's an arch that you shoot looking West. We took the "primitive" trail around the Windows which wasn't primitive at all, and wandered down to Double Arch which was just covered with people. There is no way we'd be able to get a photograph without people in Double Arch, but we weren't expecting too so the Arch met our expectations.

After resting in the hotel for a little bit and getting some ice cream from downtown, we headed into Canyonlands to spend our evening. We weren't expecting a good sunset because of the clouds and forecast, so we ventured to take a look at the White Rim Overlook which has spectacular views on the Eastern side of the Canyonlands National Park area. The White Rime Overlook provided a better-than-expected view of the White Rim that was very surreal to look at. On our way driving back into town for some dinner we saw the sun peek through the clouds as it was setting and provided some perfect light, which made us a little sad that we didn't pick a destination for an evening hike to catch golden hour, but we were exhausted and it was what it was at that point.

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Location:Canyonlands, Arches National Park
Distance:7.24mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 34 minutes
Elevation Gain:860ft
Max Elevation:6,252ft

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Mesa Arch and Delicate Arch - Mar 22, 2021

We went to Moab to explore the area and do some photography exploration over a week-long period. We arrived late on Sunday and left early on Friday which gave us 4 full days of hiking in this beautiful area. The weather cooperated most mornings and a few evenings for golden hour photography, but we got a variety of lighting from overcast, snowing, foggy, and full sun. In total, we hiked a little over 30 miles and over a mile in elevation on this trip. We came to the same conclusion that our favorite type of hiking is the type where we're alone or hiking with very few people so that we can enjoy nature to the fullest extent, as well as get a perfect photo with no one in it.

On our first full day of being in Moab we did our two most important hikes; Mesa Arch at sunrise and Delicate Arch at sunset. We woke up before sunrise and got to the trailhead for Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park right around 6:45. With sunrise being around 7:15, we figured that would give us enough time to get to the arch (less than a quarter-mile hike) and get set up with our cameras. When we got to the parking lot, we got one of the last spots - I guess everyone else had the same idea that we did. We got to the arch and it was packed with at least two dozen other people, mostly there with their tripods set up to take a photo of the sunrise lighting up the underside of the arch. There were some clouds in the Eastern horizon, so the sunrise didn't actually break through the clouds until about 7:45, all while we and everyone else were eagerly waiting for the perfect photo. The only complaint I had was that everyone was so close to the arch that I couldn't get a full photo of the arch because I didn't have a wide enough lens. But I guess that's what happens when you're an amateur photographer showing up to professional photographer "events". As we were waiting for the sun to rise, we chatted up a few people and there was one person who got there at 4am in the pitch dark to get his spot right at the center of the arch. The weather was in the 30's which isn't terrible, but the wind was blowing pretty strong, and even stronger after the sun rose, which made waiting a little bit miserable. Everyone was completely frozen but everyone was dedicated to wait for the sun to come up. Even though it was cold and packed, at least we were there with like-minded people just trying to get a good photo. The wait and the cold was worth it in the end.

After our early morning hike we decided to stay in Canyonlands National Park and drive the Shafer trail and back to Moab via Potash road. First, we drove through the park to look at the canyons since we couldn't see them as we were driving up in the dark. But because the sun was low, the canyons were a bit washed out and we didn't get any good shots or really even any good views of them. The Shafer trail is a 40-mile dirt road that requires an all-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance. We were a little unsure if we'd be able to make it in Katie's Subaru Crostrek, but when we asked the park ranger he said that it was "super easy" so we figured we'd give it a shot. Shafer trail was pretty steep and winding, but it wasn't all that technical and was pretty easy to drive. Potash Road on the other hand was not all that steep but a wildly bumpy ride, but we made it out without any problems. I can definitely see why all wheel drive and high clearance was required for that portion of the drive. The drive took us about two and a half hours in total including stopping several spots along the way to take photos.

During the day we rested and went into town to do some shopping and see what the downtown area was like. You can definitely tell that this area only exists for tourism, but it's a cute town nonetheless.

In the evening we did the cliche Delicate Arch hike which everyone who comes to Arches National Park does, even though it's rated as a moderately difficult hike. We wanted to get good sunset photos but unfortunately, there really was no sunset. There were clouds in the West and the whole hike was pretty overcast so the lighting wasn't great. The lighting was still better than the last time I was on this hike in 2014 in which I hiked that at noon and there were pretty harsh shadows. The hike itself wasn't terribly difficult, it was just incredibly steep in a very short distance so it was easy to get winded quickly. Once we got up there, it was a magnificent view, but the number of people ruined it. The hike we did yesterday evening was by far more interesting and spectacular because there weren't screaming kids running around in the foreground. We stayed up there for nearly 2 hours to try and get some photos without people in them, which we barely did, and also to see if the lighting would get any better. We cut our losses right around sunset and hiked back to the car before it got too dark.

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Location:Arches National Park, Canyonlands
Distance:4.58mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 59 minutes
Elevation Gain:866ft
Max Elevation:6,207ft

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First Day in Arches National Park - Mar 21, 2021

We went to Moab to explore the area and do some photography exploration over a week-long period. We arrived late on Sunday and left early on Friday which gave us 4 full days of hiking in this beautiful area. The weather cooperated most mornings and a few evenings for golden hour photography, but we got a variety of lighting from overcast, snowing, foggy, and full sun. In total, we hiked a little over 30 miles and over a mile in elevation on this trip. We came to the same conclusion that our favorite type of hiking is the type where we're alone or hiking with very few people so that we can enjoy nature to the fullest extent, as well as get a perfect photo with no one in it.

We arrive in Moab around 2PM after a 6 hour drive from our home. It was a long drive, but we were excited to get there and the drive went by pretty quickly. When we got to Moab, we went into Arches National Park to just wander around a little bit with nowhere in particular that we wanted to really go.

We first stopped at Balance rock, right off the road and pretty easy to walk around. The lighting was a little harsh but since you can walk around the entire thing, there's always a side that's lit up. We then ventured on to the North and South Windows as well at Turret Arch. This one was barely considered a hike since it was less than a mile and paved almost the entire way. There was always someone up close to or in the South window, which made it pretty hard to get a good photo. There were a few spots where I could get low enough to cover most of the people up with brush or the trail went off to the side that I could get almost no one in the photo, but for the most part, this area was packed. The South Window had fewer people on it. Maybe because you don't quite walk right up to it, so it was nice that we could at least get photos of one of the windows. Turret Arch was shooting directly into the sun and not very photogenic. Maybe we'll come back to this spot a little later in our trip to get Turret Arch in the early or mid morning.

Our final destination for an evening was Tower Arch. We have several hikes planned out in the early morning or late afternoon to try and get some good golden hour lighting. The first thing we had to do to get to this hike was to drive on a dirt road, which made us feel pretty secluded which was nice after coming from the packed Windows area. When we got to the parking lot, there were only 2 other cars there, and one group was on their way out. When we got to Tower Arch, there was a couple with their children running around screaming, but they left shortly after we got there and had the arch all to ourselves for the entire evening. The sunset wasn't all that great because there were too many clouds in the way, although I'm not sure that sunset was the right time to be there anyway because of the location of some prominent features directly to the West of Tower Arch that cast a shadow. Even though we weren't there at just the perfect time for the lighting, we still enjoyed being there alone in the quiet vastness that is Arches National Park.

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Location:Arches National Park
Distance:4.22mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 24 minutes
Elevation Gain:948ft
Max Elevation:5,270ft

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Gem Lake - Mar 7, 2021

The weather was fantastic this weekend. It was great all week long, which meant that there was no fresh snow to go snowshoeing. Since we knew that we wouldn't find any fresh snow, we decided to not even try to pick something that had snow potential and we stayed at the (relatively) lower altitude in Estes Park. The weather was in the 60's which makes for perfect hiking weather. Not too cold that the hiking can't warm you up and not so hot that you're sweating (although I did sweat a little on this hike).

We got to the trailhead around 11am and at 3.5 miles and 1,000ft elevation gain, the hike took us 2 hours. Since it was mid-day, the sun was in a horrible spot in the sky and washed out a lot of the Western mountain photos of Longs Peak. All things aside, it was a pretty mild hike for our hiking range, but my only complaint was the lighting. I guess that's what happens when you wake up late and slowly get to the trailhead.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:3.57mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 58 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,030ft
Max Elevation:8,821ft

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Freezing Hike to Mills Lake - Feb 28, 2021

We wanted to get out this weekend and up into the mountains so we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park. We were really hoping to go snowshoeing, but nowhere in the mountains in Northern Colorado got any snow over the past week so we figured we'd bring our snowshoes but probably wouldn't use them.

We got to the trailhead around 1PM, and the Glacier Gorge parking lot was completely full. So we headed up to Bear Lake knowing that it probably wouldn't be a much better parking situation there, and it wasn't. However, since the Bear Lake parking lot is so big and since we got there in the early afternoon, there was a stream of people leaving and we were able to get a parking spot with little trouble.

Even though we couldn't park at the parking lot we wanted to, Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge are connected by a small 0.4 mile trail. The thing that sucked the most was that Bear Lake was higher than Glacier Gorge, so we hiked down 250 feet in elevation immediately which meant that the last half-mile was straight up and torturous. The whole hike ended up being pretty difficult for where we're at with our hiking this early in the season. It was a modest 5.5 mile hike with 1,300 feet of elevation gain that took us two and a half hours. We started the hike with the weather in the lower 20's and there were supposed to be little (5mph) winds, but there were a few unexpected windy spots on the trail, including at the lake, which is always expected at an alpine lake. The temperature dropped considerably on the hike and definitely got into single digits if not below, plus the 30mph wind chill made for the summit to be pretty miserable. However, because of the wind, there was a lot of snow drifting off the nearby mountains that made for some pretty great views.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:5.49mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 33 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,319ft
Max Elevation:9,942ft

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Windy Boring Hike in Livermore - Feb 21, 2021

Katie and I went up to Livermore to hike in the Eagle's Nest Open Space. Neither of us had been there before, so we figured we'd give it a shot. When we got there, the temperatures were in the upper 30's, which we couldn't have asked for nicer temperatures in the middle of February. However, there was a constant wind with gusts that made the hike not so pleasant.

We were originally going to do both the Triple Bar loop and the OT Loop for a total of a little over 5 miles, but because the hike wasn't that scenic and because of the wind, we cut the hike short at 2.5 miles by just doing the Triple Bar loop. I don't think either of us will come back to this area anytime soon to hike because there are many more scenic places to hike in Colorado.

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Location:Livermore
Distance:2.53mi
Hiking Time:53 minutes
Elevation Gain:548ft
Max Elevation:6,098ft

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Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lake - Feb 7, 2021

We headed up into the mountains for the first time this year to go snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park. We bought a parks pass since this is pretty much the only area that didn't get burned to the ground this summer (although it got its fair share of burning as well). We figured that this year will be a lot of Rocky Mountain National Park hiking so we might as well buy a pass to get into the park all year long.

We got to the trailhead at about 9:30, right as the storm over the trail was dissipating. It was perfect because we had pretty good fresh snow but it wasn't snowing directly on top of us. The trail was also a little less busy when we started our hike since people were waiting for the storms to pass.

We were well prepared with our clothing and equipment, however, I did forget one critical item: an SD card fro my camera. I even had 4 camera batteries with me, but no SD card. So all of these photos were taken with my phone which did a decent job, however, it didn't do so great with the colors (which is why there's a lot of black and white photos in this album). Oh well, you live and you learn and this isn't a mistake I'll be making again during the 2021 hiking season.

We didn't need our snowshoes to get to Nymph Lake, they were arguably needed to get from Nymph Lake to Dream Lake, and they were essential to get from Dream to Emerald Lake. The hike took us almost 2 and a half hours for the 3.5 mile round trip hike that was only 827 feet of elevation gain.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:3.45mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 23 minutes
Elevation Gain:827ft
Max Elevation:10,051ft

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2020

Christmas Hike - Dec 25, 2020

The weather was exceptionally nice on Christmas. With the temperatures in the mid 50s, we knew we had to get outside. Plus, I got a new GPS watch, a Garmin Instinct, so I needed an excuse to go try it out. We got done with our Christmas activities around 2 and decided to hit the trails. Since it was so late (and since the sun sets around 4:30), we didn't have much time to hike so we picked something close. We ended up hiking Coyotee Ridge which is a short 10-minute drive from our hours. The 4-mile hike was only 600 feet in elevation gain and only took us an hour and a half.

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Location:Fort Collins
Distance:4.13mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 26 minutes
Elevation Gain:594ft
Max Elevation:5,713ft

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Mount Sanitas Via Lions Lair Spur - Dec 20, 2020

It was a warm wintery day, in the low 50's, so we decided to get out and hike. It's been a little while since we've done a real hike so we decided to keep it easy. We picked a 4.5 mile round trip hike with about 800 feet of elevation gain. Not too difficult but still hard enough to give us a workout. The hike ended up being double the elevation gain than we were thinking. Not sure how that happened, but we made it and didn't suffer too much from the unexpected difficulty of the extra elevation gain.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:4.73mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 52 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,647ft
Max Elevation:6,875ft

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Reservoir Ridge - Dec 6, 2020

The weather was pretty nice so we went on an afternoon hike up Reservoir Ridge in North Fort Collins. It was decently warm at 60° for a December afternoon, but we didn't question it. We knew that the further into the mountains we went the colder it would be, so we stayed in Fort Collins and just did the short 3.5 mile loop which had less than 500 feet of elevation gain.

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Location:Fort Collins
Distance:3.84mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 18 minutes
Elevation Gain:489ft
Max Elevation:5,565ft

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Shanahan Ridge - Nov 1, 2020

It's been a while since we've gotten out and hiked because of all the fires. We knew we needed to get out and enjoy the mountains while there was no smoke and before it starts getting too cold. We headed to Boulder because it's a location that wasn't too far away and also not currently on fire. Because of the fires, our options for hiking are pretty limited. It seems like most of the fires have almost died out or slowed enough that they're not a major thread to rapidly spread, but there's a lot of damage that's either blocking road access to get to hiking trails or the fire went through hiking trails and isn't safe to hike yet.

Shanahan Ridge was a great trail to come back to hiking. It was under 4 and a half miles and less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Just like all the trails in Boulder, there were many options that would allow us to go more or less distance, but we set out to do the entire 4 miles hike and completed all of it, but nothing extra.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:4.29mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 33 minutes
Elevation Gain:817ft
Max Elevation:6,408ft

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Leaf Peeping at Guanella Pass - Sep 27, 2020

It's that time of the year where the colors start changing. The colors in Colorado don't really stick around, so you have to be prepared the last couple of weekends in September and the first weekend in October to go hunt for fall colors. Since it's still a little early, we knew we had to get up high in elevation to see some color, so we started doing some searching in local newspapers to figure out where is recommended for this year this weekend. We found one article with a recent photo that specifically showed some gorgeous colors at the Silver Dale Interpretive Site just outside of Georgetown on the Guanella Pass scenic highway. Because we weren't guessing where to go and what elevation the colors would be at, we found an amazing site packed with tons of turning aspens. The weather was cooperative being in the 50s but partially cloudy which gave us a lot of different lighting, everything from cloudy, to sunny and even some soft lighting in between. The trees were perfect and the lighting was perfect, so I don't think it could have gotten much better. The Guanella Pass area surpassed our expectations and will definitely be on our shortlist for leaf-peeping in future years.

I am considering this a hike since it was up in the mountains, had some elevation gain (over 500ft), and was over 3 miles round trip. Even though it took us over 2 hours, this was a very slow moving hike that we had lots of fun stopping and shooting along the way.

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Location:Georgetown
Distance:3.17mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 11 minutes
Elevation Gain:551ft
Max Elevation:9,656ft

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Orient Mine Hike - Sep 17, 2020

This is the second time I've hiked to the top of the Orient mine this year. Katie and I came up to the hot springs in early January and I hike this on a cold morning on the fourth. This hike was quite a bit easier this time for a number of reasons, but mostly because it wasn't freezing cold since it was September. However, it did drop into the 40's at night, and since we did this as a sunset hike to see the bats, we were up there until the sun went down and it got really cold.

The hike ended up taking an hour to get up and a half hour to get down, and we stayed at the top for an hour while we waited for the bats to come out. The 4 mile hike was only 761 verticle feet in ascent, but we went on this hike to see the bats, not necessarily get in a difficult hike.

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Location:San Luis Valley
Distance:4.34mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 42 minutes
Elevation Gain:761ft
Max Elevation:9,319ft

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Coulson Gulch to Ralph Price Reservoir - Aug 31, 2020

We haven't gone hiking in a little while because of the smoke. This weekend the winds were blowing West, so it kept the East side of the mountains pretty clear so we decided to go for a hike. We were originally planning on a 5 mile round trip hike which would have been turning around once we hit a forest road but ended up walking down the service road to Ralph Prince Reservoir which added an extra two and a half miles round trip making the total hike just under 7.5 miles and just over 1,500 feet in elevation gain. The hike took us 3 and a quarter hours to complete. I'm glad we made it to the reservoir because it gave us a nice destination with some great views.

This hike was a lot different than all the others we have gone on because the hike started at the high point. So we hiked down 1,500 feet in elevation, and the hard part was the return back to the car. Typically hikes start low, you hike up high, and the hike back is nice and easy. Because of this, we were never given the point of turning around early from exhaustion since going down is always easier than going up. We paid for this in some sore muscles the next day, but overall it was a pretty good hike.

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Location:Lyons
Distance:7.43mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 14 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,558ft
Max Elevation:7,707ft

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Bulwark Ridge - Aug 9, 2020

We ventured into Glen Haven to look for a hike this weekend. We've only done one other hike in Glen Haven, Crosier Mountain, and that hike was a lot of fun with spectacular views so we decided to give another hike in the area a try. We picked the Bulwark Ridge area because there were lots of options depending on how we were feeling. Our original goal was to make it to the Miller Fork Loop, but we decided against it after hiking up 1,000 feet and not wanting to hike down Bulwark Ridge just to hike back up to Miller Fork. And more importantly, we did not want to have a 1,000 foot ascent on our way back to the car - hikes should be easy on the way back! Instead, we stayed on Bulwark Trail and almost made it to the Wilderness Border.

The problem with this kind of hike is that we had no destination which kind of made the whole hike a little boring. The closest thing that we could have hiked to on Bulwark Ridge was Signal Mountain, which is out of our skill level (it's 3,000+ feet in elevation gain and over 10 miles long). Since there's no destination, there's no motivation to get to the "end" and you just turn around whenever you really like. Some people might like that option, but I really like hiking to a destination, be that a lake, waterfall, or top of a mountain. When you hike to a destination, it just gives you a sense of accomplishment and a good spot to rest.

There were some pretty great views early on in the hike. You start on a South-facing ridge that's pretty exposed, so you get to see all the Southern mountain ranges. It was pretty hazy, most likely from the Pine Gulch fire all the way in Grand Junction. That fire started a little over a week ago and is over 200 miles away from us. So the fact that we can see and smell it way over in Northern Colorado shows how big this 20k acre fire really is. Hopefully, they get in contained sometime soon.

We turned around after hitting the 3-mile mark, making for a total round trip distance of just under 6 miles and over 1,400 feet in elevation gain. We started the hike at about 9:30am, and the temperatures were already into the upper 70's. By the end of the hike, it was certainly into the 80's. My watch recorded a max temperature of 93°F, but that's my skin temperature which tends to be a little hotter than the outdoor temperature. The heat combined with the steep incline immediately and the lack of shade for a good portion of the hike made this a pretty difficult hike.

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Location:Glen Haven
Distance:5.92mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 2 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,444ft
Max Elevation:9,218ft

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Stone Mountain - Jul 26, 2020

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.

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Location:Loveland
Distance:8.57mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 52 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,346ft
Max Elevation:7,539ft

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Bighorn Lake - Jul 3, 2020

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.

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Location:Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests
Distance:8.49mi
Hiking Time:5 hours, 24 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,430ft
Max Elevation:10,074ft

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Lake Katherine - Jul 2, 2020

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.

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Location:Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest
Distance:5.20mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 23 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,004ft
Max Elevation:9,831ft

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Crosier Mountain Via Devils Gulch Road - Jun 21, 2020

We haven't been hiking in a couple of weeks. With Katie starting her new job and us only having Sundays together without either of us having to work, it's hard to get everything we want to do together done in just one day. But since we didn't go hiking the week prior, we knew we had to go this weekend!

Summiting Crosier Mountain is no easy task. First, you have to pick one of three different trailheads, all of which are over 7 miles in round trip length and over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. We thought we were picking the shortest and least steep of the three trailheads, but our hike ended up being 9 miles and 2,100 feet of elevation gain. The maps lied to us with the distance but we made it none the less and I'm pretty sure the other 2 trailheads would have been even longer and steeper.

We did the 9-mile round trip hike in just over 4 hours. The weather ended up being perfect. It was a little hot and sunny for the first couple of miles, then overcast for the rest of the hike with cooler low-70° temperatures and just a tiny bit of rain sprinkles. We stopped for 30 minutes at the summit to eat a late lunch and to rest a bit before heading down. The hike had everything from a large meadow with awesome views of the Mummy Range to dense woods, both alive and completely and eerily dead, and a spectacular summit panorama.

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Location:Glen Haven
Distance:8.47mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 3 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,162ft
Max Elevation:9,137ft

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Button Rock Mountain - Jun 7, 2020

We haven't ventured into Lyons all that much, but there are lots of untapped hikes in the mountains West of Lyons. It seems like most people don't know about this area of Colorado because most people willing to drive at least to Lyons are willing to drive all the way up to Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park which is known for it's hiking. The thing is that Lyons hiking offers a very similar feel for hikes as Rocky Mountain National Park but with less drive and fewer people.

We picked Button Rock Mountain because it was rated right in the middle on my hike list in terms of difficulty rating (which is a total B.S. calculated number - but there is some math behind it). The hike list has actually become a great spot for us to pick hikes from. It's smaller and tailored towards what we want to do and still has a wealth of information for picking a hike.

There was a group of hikers that started hiking at the same time as we did and hiked with us most of the way to the top. I suspect they followed us pretty closely because at the first fork, they asked us about which way to go and learned quickly that they weren't hiking the trail they thought they were hiking. There were some times when them following us was a little annoying (since we hike to be alone), but it didn't bother me too much. Because of all the turnoffs and different trails in the area, I wouldn't recommend hiking this without a map, but they seemed to do OK (as far as we know).

Both Katie and I ended the hike pretty exhausted since we were hiking for over four hours. The last mile was the hardest because we were both ready to be done. The hike itself was a little over 9 miles (less if you don't get lost as we did with all the turn-offs) and over 1,600 feet of elevation gain.

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Location:Lyons
Distance:9.17mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 3 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,657ft
Max Elevation:8,372ft

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Wildflowers at Young Gulch - May 31, 2020

Knowing that we had to keep going on hikes if we were to make our goal of hiking a 14er, we decided to go on a hike. We've been in the middle of doing some home renovation which takes most of our physical strength. But the hikes must go on.

We picked Young Gulch because we knew that we would be able to get a parking spot (it's not a very popular trail and it's a bit further up the Poudre than other hikes). We got to the trailhead pretty late, almost noon, because then we went out to take photos of the horses at the barn Katie boards her horse at (hence yesterday's post). The barn closes the pasture for the horses for a month and a half which at the end results in some pent up horses running wild.

The best and worst thing about hiking through gulches is that there's no real destination. Young Gulch ends at another road, so there's really no incentive to go all the way. So even though the trail is 10 miles all the way out and back, we only did a little over 6 miles in the course of 2 hours and 19 minutes. I'd like to blame it on the weather (it did start raining pretty good right when we turned back), but the reality was that we were both pretty tired. The best part of the hike was the wildflowers. I've never seen so many varieties of wildflowers on a single hike. Most of this post is filled with the wildflowers.

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Location:Poudre Canyon
Distance:6.03mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 19 minutes
Elevation Gain:843ft
Max Elevation:6,594ft

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Gray Rock - May 17, 2020

The hiking gods were against us today. Well at least me. As soon as I left the car, I turned on my GPS on my watch and the screen went blank. It's done this before and usually takes me plugging it in to get it to turn back on. I didn't have the charger with me so I was out of luck. The thing was at full battery so I was pretty disappointed that it decided to not work for this hike. As such, I don't have accurate geotagging for any of the photos, along with accurate mileage or elevation. Oh well.

the second thing that went wrong was after I took the first photo. I realized that there was a pretty fuzzy section in the corner of the photo. Turns out my UV filter was completely shattered. Easy enough fix, I just took the filter off. But it was still pretty baffling to find a shattered UV filter considering that takes a pretty hefty drop to break one of those and I think I would remember dropping my camera like that.

This was the hardest hike we attempted. With over 1,000 feet more elevation gain of any other hike we've done, this hike comes in at half a mile of elevation gain in 4 horizontal miles of hiking (round trip just over 8 miles). Considering it took us four and a half hours, I'm just glad we survived. We got lost a few times including one time when we were full-on mountaineering down some very steep rocks trying to find the trail. The hike itself had some spectacular views at the summit. It was pretty hazy, so I'm sure the photos don't do it justice, but other than the panoramic views there were some blooming wildflowers and a gorgeous green meadow. On the other side of the loop trail, we hiked through a burn area (from the Hewlett's Gulch Fire in 2012) that was starting to recover.

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Location:Poudre Canyon
Distance:8.50mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 30 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,421ft
Max Elevation:7,616ft

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Prairie Ridge Natural Area - May 10, 2020

The City of Fort Collins put in a new nature trail that connects up with Coyote Ridge. It's not a hard hike, and not really a hike per se, but with Katie's blisters we decided not to do anything with too much (or any) elevation gain. The walk was about 5 miles and took us an hour and a half. We didn't make it all the way to the coyote ridge trail, we turned back a little early. I didn't take many photos because the area is a little bland and not all that exciting to me anymore. My main takeaway from this was that I'm definitely going to have to come back here to bike this winding trail sometime.

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Location:Fort Collins
Distance:5.00mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 25 minutes
Elevation Gain:315ft
Max Elevation:5,331ft

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Lion Gulch - May 3, 2020

We ventured into Estes in hopes that we could go hike Bridal Veil Falls, which starts at McGraw ranch. Since McGraw ranch is in Rocky Mountain National Park, the parking lot was closed, not even allowing up to get to the trailhead. We pulled over on the side of the road and did some quick Googling to find an appropriate substitute and we landed on Lions Gulch, which was just a 15 minute drive from where we were at.

After arriving at the trailhead, we immediately went the wrong way and spent the first three-quarters of a mile trying to find the trail again. Once we found it, everything was great until a few miles in when Katie started getting blisters on her feet. It was a painful rest of the hike for her, and a hot rest of the hike for both of us. The temperature was in the mid 70's, plus being exposed for a good majority of the hike made this the most sweaty hike of 2020 (so far).

The hike itself was okay, not really that spectacular from what we've been hiking recently, but it was still a challenging 7.75 mile, 1,500 foot elevation gain hike that took us three and a half hours.

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Location:Estes Park
Distance:7.74mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 25 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,552ft
Max Elevation:8,424ft

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Storm Mountain - Apr 26, 2020

We have been waiting for the weather to be nice enough to go up to Storm Mountain. It's a bit higher in elevation, starting at over 8,000ft, so we knew that there would be some snow on the trail. Someone submitted a post on a hiking website from the day prior saying it was snowy but well packed down. That hiker lied. The last mile of the trail was really soft snow that had us at some points stepping into snow that was knee-deep. The combination of the steep trail in itself plus the deep snow made this a really difficult and somewhat dangerous hike.

The name of this mountain didn't disappoint. As we were hiking up, something was rolling over the mountains. By the time we were almost back to the car, the storm had made it over storm mountain and was sprinkling on us a little bit. But the views were spectacular. Over the course of the hike, we got a full view of all the mountain ranges around Storm Mountain. Unfortunately, the storms coming from the West made the Western mountains pretty hazy.

Overall, the hike was 5 and a half miles long, took us two hours and 40 minutes, and was 1,400 feet in elevation gain.

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Location:Roosevelt National Forest
Distance:5.52mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 40 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,381ft
Max Elevation:9,788ft

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Pawnee Buttes - Apr 19, 2020

Because of all the snow we got the previous week, we figured everywhere in the mountains would be snowy, icy, muddy, or all 3. So we decided to venture into the Pawnee Grasslands instead. It was a little bit further of a drive than we'd like, about an hour and a half, but the views were worth it.

The hike itself was pretty easy, just over 5 miles and only 600 feet of elevation gain. But you can't expect much for Eastern Colorado where it's pretty much flat everywhere. Just looking at the length and elevation, this isn't a hike we would have chosen, but I had always wanted to go back here after coming here in March of 2010.

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Location:Pawnee Grasslands
Distance:5.16mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 57 minutes
Elevation Gain:604ft
Max Elevation:5,350ft

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Mount McConnel - Apr 11, 2020

Katie and I are trying to get in shape for a fourteener so we made a goal to hike just about every weekend. I even created a nifty site that has all of our adventurous hiking goals on it for us to be able to pick out hikes quickly. We really wanted to do Storm Mountain, but reports of other hikers said that it was still pretty snowy and cold, so we opted to go up the Poudre again, this time just a few miles East of the trail we hiked last week. I was a little worried that this trail would be so similar to Dadd Gulch due to the proximity, but this hike was completely different. This hike was surprisingly perfect. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous (in the kind of way that a burn area can be), was short in distance (but not too short), and challenging in elevation (online resources lied about the elevation gain, claiming it was in the 1,400 feet of elevation gain, where it was actually over 1,700).

There were two things that could have been better. First I wish there were bluer skies in the North. I guess I can't complain though because the overcast skies made for pretty perfect lighting during the entire hike. Second would have been less wind. But when you hike to the top of something, it's kind of expected to be windy.

There was a pretty treacherous spot along the trail as we were coming down that made it seem like we weren't on the trail at all for a good mile of the descent. There were also a few good spots where we were hiking pretty close to dropoffs, as well as hiking on the snow and nearly sliding off the dropoffs. Despite this trail trying to kill us, we survived the 5.2 mile hike with over 1,700 feet of elevation gain in just under 3 hours.

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Location:Poudre Canyon
Distance:5.19mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 52 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,739ft
Max Elevation:8,026ft

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Dadd Gulch - Apr 5, 2020

We wanted to do two hikes this weekend because we had nothing better to do. Yesterday's hike was a little busy and had quite a few people on the trail. It didn't really feel much like social distancing. So this time we went up the Poudre pretty far all the way to Dadd Gulch. When we started, around 9:30 am, there were only 3 cars in the parking lot. When we finished, there were a few more, but still pretty empty. I'd say we limited our social interactions today quite a bit.

The hike was supposed to be 7.8 miles long, but the end of the trail was a bit hidden by snow. We turned around just short of the ending point, which was just a road, so I don't think we missed out on much. The hike was almost 1,400 feet in elevation gain and took us three hours.

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Location:Poudre Canyon
Distance:6.71mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 56 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,371ft
Max Elevation:8,379ft

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Mallory Cave - Apr 4, 2020

Needing to get outside a bit, we went to NCAR in Boulder and hiked up to Mallory Caves. We couldn't get all the way to the cave opening due to them being closed April-September, but we'll come back some other time when they're open. It was a pretty easy hike, almost 3.25 miles and less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain. It took us just over an hour and a half.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:3.32mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 39 minutes
Elevation Gain:932ft
Max Elevation:6,738ft

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Blue Sky Trail - Mar 29, 2020

Needing to get outside from the stay-at-home mandate, Katie and I decided to go for a hike. Originally we planned on just hiking up Coyote Ridge, but the parking lot was packed. We went to the other end of Coyote Ridge trail, which was the Blue Sky Trail. There were only a few parking spots left so we grabbed one and started hiking.

Blue Sky Trail is a great mountain biking trail, so there were several times we almost got ran over, but it was still a nice hike. I'm definitely going to come back here to do some biking over the summer. It had less than 500 feet of elevation gain and we turned back before making it all the way to Coyote Ridge, making out round trip distance four and a quarter miles and taking an hour and a half.

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Location:Horsetooth
Distance:4.22mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 29 minutes
Elevation Gain:479ft
Max Elevation:5,701ft

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Wapiti Trail - Mar 7, 2020

The weather was exceptionally nice for an early March weekend. The temperatures for both Saturday and Sunday hit 70°, so we knew we had to get outside. We originally planned to go hike Bobcat Ridge in West Loveland, but when I looked at the parking lot web cameras at about 11 am, I noticed that the parking lot was empty, suspiciously so. Bobcat ridge doesn't have a lot of parking space, so I wanted to check to make sure that it wasn't too crowded before heading that way. It turns out the trail was closed due to muddy conditions, so we had to figure something else out.

Since this is the first real hike that Katie and I have done this season, we didn't want to do anything too ambitious. We ended up picking the Wapiti trail because it had some good turnaround points that we could choose how far we wanted to go pretty easily. Once we made it 2.5 miles into the trail, we decided to continue on the Ponderosa Loop, a 2.5 mile loop that took us to a scenic overlook of the western mountain range where we sat and ate a late lunch. It was a little windy since the overlook was exposed, but the views were worth it.

The hike ended up being an ambitious 8.32 miles that took us almost 3 and a half hours and nearly 1100 feet in elevation gain.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:8.32mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 21 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,093ft
Max Elevation:6,844ft

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Mount Margaret Snowshoeing - Feb 8, 2020

Katie and I went up to Red Feather Lakes to go snowshoeing at Mount Margaret. We picked an easy trail since both of us are out of shape and since this was Katie's first time snowshoeing. the trail itself is over 7 miles long, but we only hiked a portion of the trail, turning around after 2 miles making it a roundtrip hike of just under 4 miles. It took us almost 2 hours even though it was a measly 500 feet in elevation gain.

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Location:Red Feather Lakes
Distance:3.96mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 51 minutes
Elevation Gain:505ft
Max Elevation:8,177ft

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Orient Mine & Sunset - Jan 4, 2020

In the morning I woke up and decided to do some morning photography. I grabbed my stuff and quietly left the cabin a little after 7am. I started heading to the bat caves, which I didn't think was too far away. About an hour and a half later, 2 miles, and 700+ feet in elevation gain, I made it to the bat caves on an empty stomach in the freezing cold with no water. I wouldn't recommend doing that again without being prepared, but it was a pretty gorgeous hike and very peaceful that early in the morning in the middle of winter.

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Location:San Luis Valley
Distance:4.00mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 30 minutes
Elevation Gain:768ft
Max Elevation:9,414ft

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2019

White Tanks - Dec 28, 2019

We went to the closest hiking spot to where Katie's family lives, the White Tanks. It's only about a 15 minute drive and gets you into the mountains. We did a pretty short hike, just a 2 miles round trip, and it only had 233 feet of elevation gain, but the destination was a pretty tall waterfall that I'm told was flowing pretty well, even though there wasn't much water coming off of it by my standards. But I do have to remember that this is Arizona.

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Location:White Tanks
Distance:2.00mi
Hiking Time:46 minutes
Elevation Gain:233ft
Max Elevation:1,585ft

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Lake Pleasant - Dec 26, 2019

While in Arizona, Katie took me to a few of her favorite outdoor locations. One of those places is Lake Pleasant. We grabbed some sandwiches and had a cold picnic overlooking the lake and then proceeded to go on a 5 mile hile starting at Pipeline Canyon Trailhead and ended at the top of Yavapai Point. The whole hike was 751 feet in elevation gain and took us just over 2 hours round trip.

There was a bench at the summit that read a quote by John Muir; "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

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Location:Lake Pleasant
Distance:4.92mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 9 minutes
Elevation Gain:751ft
Max Elevation:2,161ft

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Arthur's Rock - Nov 9, 2019

Katie and I decided to go on a quick hike. Not wanting to drive too far, we picked Lory State Park for our destination and hiked Arthur's Rock. The hike was pretty easy, right at 4 miles and 1,100 feet of elevation gain, but it was a bit cold, epecially as the sun was setting.

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Location:Lory State Park
Distance:3.97mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 54 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,089ft
Max Elevation:6,682ft

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Royal Arch - Nov 3, 2019

The weather was forecasted in the mid 50's so we decided to go for a hike. None of the Northern Colorado hikes seemed interesting to us, so we decided to venture down to Boulder and hike the Royal Arch trail. Unknowingly, Boulder got a little bit more snow than we did in Northern Colorado and most of the trail was pretty snow-packed. I was a bit underprepared in the fact that I really could have used my crampons and a long-sleeved shirt, but overall, it was a really fun hike.

The hike was very steep, 1,600 feet of elevation gain in a little over 2 miles one way. mixed ith the snow and ice, it was a slow-going hike at two and a half hours total.

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Location:Chautauqua
Distance:4.36mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 31 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,611ft
Max Elevation:6,896ft

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Hewlett Gulch Hike - Oct 13, 2019

Katie, Emily, Dylan and I went on a hike through Hewlett Gulch. It was a great day for a hike, started out in the low 60's and eventually made it to the high 60's by the end of the hike. Hewlett Gulch isn't an out and back type of a hike, it's a big loop with no real "end" or "summit" to it. It was a hike that Katie had done before but I had never been to the Hewlett Gulch area, or really anything in Poudre Canyon before (with the exception of Zimmerman Lake), so it was a fun adventure exploring the Northwestern side of the Fort Collins area.

The hike was a little over 8 miles and took us 3 hours. It had a painful 1,325ft of elevation gain.

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Location:Poudre Canyon
Distance:8.29mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 1 minute
Elevation Gain:1,325ft
Max Elevation:6,823ft

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Colorado Springs Day 2 - Oct 1, 2019

On Tuesday we had a pretty easy schedule, go to the Garden of the Gods and go to the top of Pikes Peak. Luckily for us, the Garden of the Gods is an easy "hike", and by that, I mean that everything is paved and there's really no elevation change. The walk was a little over a mile and a half. The drive up to Pikes Peak was pretty fun. There were a lot of aspens on the side of the road that we stopped at on the way down from Pikes Peak. We decided not to hike to the top because neither one of us is nearly close enough in shape to hike a 14er. We did see the hiking trail and it looked brutal, so we're glad we drove instead.

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Location:Garden of the Gods
Distance:1.65mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 0 minute
Elevation Gain:300ft
Max Elevation:6,604ft

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Fall Colors Hunt - Sep 30, 2019

Since Katie didn't have to work this week we decided to go on a little mini-vacation during the week up to Colorado Springs in hopes that we would find some fall colors. We packed as much of Colorado Springs as we could into the 2 days we were there including some of the touristy activities like going to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings and going to the Garden of the Gods. But mostly we picked that area for the scenic highway between Divide and Cripple Creek. There were several wonderful panoramic spots to see the fall colors, as well as some beautiful Aspen groves that we got up close to.

On Monday we went on a hike in Mueller State Park. We picked the Lost Pond hike which was short, just under 3 miles, and only 679ft of elevation gain. But since we were taking photos, it was an hour and a half long hike through the mountains. It ended up being a perfect place to shoot the aspens even though we were maybe a week too early for peak colors.

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Location:Mueller State Park
Distance:2.92mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 28 minutes
Elevation Gain:679ft
Max Elevation:9,839ft

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Hanging Lake - Sep 14, 2019

With my house selling on Monday, I pushed to get everything moved and the house cleaned by Friday so I could enjoy the weekend in Glenwood. Katie was working up in Glenwood on an externship the previous week and the week after, so I figured it would be a great way for me to relax after weeks of stress from trying to get everything packed and moved. Even though it was extra stressful a few days before the weekend, the added stress was well worth the relaxing that I was able to do over the weekend knowing that everything was done and that I could start finally living normally again.

On Saturday, we decided to go hike Hanging Lake. The weather was in the upper 60's, so we figured we would be okay without jackets, but we neglected that we were hiking along a river and the breeze with the cool water next to us made it feel like upper 50's. I think if it was 5-10 degrees warmer, that would have been a perfect hike, but other than that, it was a lovely and spectacular hike. The hike was almost 5.5 miles, including the walk from where the bus dropped us off to where the trail actually started. The climb was just barely over 1,000ft in elevation gain and the whole hike took us a little over 2 hours including a 30 minute break at the top.

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Location:Glenwood Springs
Distance:5.41mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 6 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,007ft
Max Elevation:7,144ft

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Lily Mountain - Aug 31, 2019

This weekend Brittany and Josh invited me to go hiking with them. It was a great idea, but a poorly executed one because it's labor day weekend. We go to the parking lot for the shuttle in Rocky Mountain National Park a little after 9 and it was just barely too late to get a parking spot. So we improvised and when to Lilly Mountain instead which is outside of the tool gate for the park and didn't have many tourists. I was surprised by how empty the hike was, but I'm not complaining!

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:4.65mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 46 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,870ft
Max Elevation:9,786ft

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Devil's Backbone - Feb 3, 2019

The weather was great this weekend. Just looking at the temperatures, which were in the mid 50's, you wouldn't think that it's February. Since the mountains were not quite that nice, we decided to go on a quick hike at Devil's Backbone. We barely got a parking spot, but this hike started out great. Towards the half-way mark, it got pretty windy. The hike was 2.6 miles and took just under 1 hour.

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Location:Devil's Backbone
Distance:3.59mi
Hiking Time:58 minutes
Elevation Gain:525ft
Max Elevation:6,049ft

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Lilly Mountain - Jan 12, 2019

The weather in Rocky Mountain National Park was supposed to be calm, sunny, and in the mid 20's on Saturday, so we decided to go up into the mountains to enjoy the snow and use our snowshoes. Our Snowshoes were over a year old but had only been used once before back in March at Zimmerman Lake. Because of the Government shutdown, I did my due diligence by finding several local newspaper articles telling me that the park was open as well as calling the park to hear an automated message telling me that the park was open. So we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park. The park was indeed open, but the roads were closed. With some recent snowfall, I guess there was no one to plow the roads, so we couldn't get to our original destination, Bear, Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lake like we had done a few summers's ago.

With our plans spoiled, we didn't just want to go home. After all, we drove over an hour to get up here, so I started looking at the map to find some hiking trails that didn't require us to drive into the park. We headed to a trailhead that starts right next to the tallest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park; Longs Peak. But instead of hiking South to get to Longs Peak, we headed North to go up Lilly Mountain.

Lilly Mountain has been on my list of hikes to do for a while, but only being 4 miles round trip, it's a little too easy for us to hike in mid-summer. However, being out of shape since we haven't hiked since September, this was a perfect January hike. There wasn't enough snow to use the snowshoes, but Katherine was able to use the new crampons that she got for Christmas. The hike started off easy, and after about a half-mile, we started descending. I thought it was a little weird but kept going on the path. About 3/4 of a mile into the hike, some fellow hikers told us that we weren't actually on the trail. So we tracked back until we found the correct trail and continued upward. We finally made it to a spot where we could see the summit, but the tracks in the snow became non-existent. So we made our own trail and climbed up the way that looked the best.

After 1 and a half hours, we summited. Several people followed us up the sketchy path that we made and completed their hike over the next 20 minutes that we were resting at the top. The hike ended up being 4.68 miles and took 2 and a half hours and almost 1600 feet of elevation gain. Had we stayed on the path, it would have been 4 miles round trip, and only 1200 feet of elevation gain. I guess that's what we get for hiking in the snow.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:4.68mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 34 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,585ft
Max Elevation:9,846ft

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2018

Arthur's Rock - Oct 28, 2018

The weather was supposed to be okay for a hike, although not nice enough to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. We opted to go to Lory State Park while our Colorado State Parks pass was still valid. We had hiked Arthur's Rock in the past, so we knew what to expect.

The hike was 3.6 miles round trip and took a total time of 1 hour and 40 minutes. It had a total elevation gain of 1,100 feet.

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Location:Lory State Park
Distance:3.60mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 39 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,115ft
Max Elevation:6,719ft

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Fern Lake - Sep 1, 2018

Not having hiked in several weeks due to emergency home renovation, we decided to do a pretty easy hike this weekend, Fern Lake. The hike seemed pretty easy on paper. There were several places we could hike to and turn around if we weren't up for going all the way to Fern Lake, and it was only supposed to be 1400 feet of elevation gain. The total hike ended up being 7.6 miles, 2,100 vertical feet, and took 3 hours and 40 minutes to complete. Since it was nearly a month since our last hike, this one was a little tough, but not too bad.

We had hiked on this trail before, just not this side of it. A few months ago when we made it to Odessa Lake, we were on the side of the trail that started at Bear Lake. We didn't realize it until a hiker asked us a question about the trail we came from and said he was on his way back from Odessa Lake. I guess the park isn't as big as we thought it was!

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:7.64mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 39 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,131ft
Max Elevation:9,648ft

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Four 14'ers in One Day - Aug 4, 2018

Katherine, Will, and I decided to hike four 14'ers in one day. Are we crazy? Yes, definitely. But all four of them were in a row and not too difficult to get to. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross are the four we hiked. Technically, Cameron isn't a true 14'er because there isn't enough drop distance between the saddle between it and Lincoln, but I count it anyway because it is a peak and it is above 14,000 feet.

The hike was 7 and a quarter mile long with almost 4,000 feet in elevation gain. That's the most elevation gain Katherine and I have ever done in one hike by about 1,500 feet. We spent the night at Katherine's parent's house in Highlands ranch to get a little bit closer to the trailhead. Our morning started at 3:30 am waking up to drive to the trailhead where there were already a good 50 cars parked by 6:00 am. I was shocked at how many cars were there but you have to start a hike this early to get all 4 of them completed before the weather rolls in. We completed the hike around 12:30 and headed back home. It was a great hike that provided a lot of different scenery, but it was one of the most difficult hikes we've ever done.

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Location:Fairplay, Colorado
Distance:7.23mi
Hiking Time:6 hours, 13 minutes
Elevation Gain:3,973ft
Max Elevation:14,303ft

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Ypsilon Lake - Jul 29, 2018

The weather was looking pretty bad this weekend to go on a hike, which would have been 3 weekends in a row stuck at home due to bad weather. Luckily, on Saturday evening, the forecast cleared up for Sunday for us to go on a hike.

We picked Ypsilon Lake, which was a 9-mile round trip hike in the Mummy Range which had about 2600 feet of elevation gain. The hike was pretty killer compared to similar hikes we've done with similar altitude gain and distance. We made it to the lake in just under 2 hours and returned to the car 4 hours and 22 minutes after we started the hike.

The weirdest part of this hike was the people heading up when we were heading back down. The weather may have cleared up in the morning, but rain was still forecasted in the early afternoon. The clouds were rolling over the mountains and it was starting to get pretty windy. I suspect that the rain started within the next 2 hours. On a hike that took us over 4 hours, I'm sure some of those people got wet. Additionally, there were several groups of tourists attempting this hike without any water at all.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:8.86mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 21 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,595ft
Max Elevation:10,507ft

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The Loch & Timberline Falls - Jul 7, 2018

It's another weekend and we went on another hike, big surprise! This time we decided to make it to The Loch, a lake that is 3 miles from the start of the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. We figured once we were there we could decide to go on to Timberline falls and then maybe make it to Sky Pond. We ended up making it to the lake and it looked oddly familiar. It turns out that we hiked to The Loch last year and thought we were at Mills Lake. Because of all the snow when we went last year, all the signs were covered and we must have taken a wrong turn. Since we had already made it to The Loch before, we had to go on, so we trecked another mile and another 600 vertical feet to Timberline Falls.

Timberline Falls is by far my favorite waterfall in Colorado that I've been to. The waterfall was visible from The Loch, as well as about a quarter-mile from the destination. It was nice being able to see the thing you're hiking to. The other thing that made the waterfall magnificent was that it was up on a giant hill in front of a massive meadow.

We hiked on, passing Glass Lake and finally arriving at Sky Pond about 3/4 of a mile from Timberline Falls. In total, the hike took us a little over 4 hours and 30 minutes, which was a lengthy 9-mile hike with a little over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Surprisingly, this hike seemed significantly easier than the hike last week, which was just a little over 9-miles but had about 500 feet more of elevation gain. I guess more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain is killer.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:9.00mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 32 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,069ft
Max Elevation:10,245ft

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Odessa Lake and Lake Helene - Jul 1, 2018

For whatever reason, we thought it would be a great idea to go up into Rocky Mountain National Park on the weekend before the 4th of July. If that's not bad enough, we decided to start our hike in the most popular area, Bear Lake. But we did it, and it was packed in the morning. It took about 20 minutes for us to get through the entrance and buy our annual pass. We got into the park around 8 am, parked, took the shuttle to Bear Lake Trailhead, and started our hike a little after 9 am. Once we took our first turn off the path from Bear Lake, the number of people significantly decreased, and it was back to just us and nature.

Our original goal was to make it to Lake Helene with the intent on hiking down the gorge to Odessa Lake. We brought enough food that we could eat lunch at one of the lakes, and since we got to Lake Helene around 11, we thought we would hike the extra 1.2 miles down to Odessa Lake for our lunch break. We ended up getting a little lost trying to get back on the trail to head to Odessa Lake, but we ended up finding an amazing overlook of the gorge including both lakes and Notchtop Mountain, so getting lost worked out in our favor.

The hike took us a total of 4 hours, 47 minutes and we hiked a total distance of 9.48 miles with a strenuous 2524 feet of elevation gain.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:9.48mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 47 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,524ft
Max Elevation:10,477ft

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Chasm Falls - Jun 10, 2018

Today we hiked up Chasm Falls via Old Fall River Road. We started at the Alluvial Fan Trailhead, walked along the paved road to get to the start of Old Fall River Road, and then walked on the dirt road up to Chasm Falls.

Katie didn't enjoy the first part of the hike, where we walked along the paved road, but as soon as we got onto the vehicle prohibited dirt road, it started to feel a little more like a hike. The views of the falls were spectacular, and we were the only ones up there when we arrived, so that was great! It's a very touristy location, so I'm glad we got to go before the road was open to traffic for the tourist that want to park right next to the falls.

The hike took a little over 2 hours and was 4.8miles road trip with 515 feet of elevation gain. All of that is approximated because I forgot my GPS on this hike, but that's close enough to being accurate for me.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:4.80mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 0 minute
Elevation Gain:515ft
Max Elevation:9,088ft

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Gem Lake and Balanced Rock - Jun 2, 2018

We decided that it was time to drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park for our first hike of the season in the real mountains. I picked out a relatively easy, 3.4 mile round trip out-and-back hike to Gem Lake with the intent that we would go all the way to balance rock if we were up to the challenge. Balance rock is 2 miles from Gem Lake once you're there. We woke up a little late thinking that we needed to wait until late morning so it would be a little warmer, but by the time we got there (9:30), it was already in the mid 60's and we were thinking we were in for a hot hike. The temperature never got past about 70 degrees though, and there was always a constant breeze, so it was really nice!

We got to Gem lake 50 minutes into the hike. It was only 956 feet of elevation gain and 1.7 miles to get there, so we ate a quick snack, took some photos, and headed on to Balance Rock. We got to Balance rock an hour later with a total distance of 3.94 miles since the start of our hike. Balance rock is almost at the same elevation as Gem lake, but the trail dipped down some 400 feet in elevation and then back up another 400 feet. That part of the hike really wasn't that difficult. When we got to Balance Rock, we had ascended a total of 1390 feet.

The hike took us a total of 3 hours, 35 minutes. It was 7.91 miles total with 1992 feet of elevation gain.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:7.91mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 35 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,992ft
Max Elevation:8,591ft

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Mount Sanitas Hike - May 27, 2018

We decided to start our first real hike of the season this weekend. We're a little late to the game in starting our hiking since it's been so nice out the past several weekends. But none the less, we started off the season hiking up Mount Sanitas. We did the Mount Sanitas Loop Trail, which is a 3.1-mile round trip loop that takes you up to the top of Mount Sanitas.

Since we couldn't park in the actual parking lot for Mount Sanitas Trailhead, our hike started on the street about a quarter-mile away. The total distance was 3.54 miles, 1280 feet of elevation gain, and took us 2 hours and 9 minutes (including a 20 minute rest at the top).

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Location:Boulder
Distance:3.54mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 9 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,280ft
Max Elevation:6,843ft

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Lory State Park - May 6, 2018

Katherine and I decided to go to Lory State Park and hike around a little bit. We decided to do the easy Shoreline trail hike. It was a 1.83 mile round trip hike with 300 feet of elevation gain. Hardly a hike, but it took us 47 minutes. After that, we went on the waterfall trail. The distance published for that trail is 0.1 miles, so it's really just a park and see the waterfall type "hike".

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Location:Lory State Park
Distance:1.83mi
Hiking Time:47 minutes
Elevation Gain:300ft
Max Elevation:5,912ft

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Snowshoeing Zimmerman Lake - Mar 3, 2018

For Christmas, I bought Katherine some snowshoes. I didn't have a pair either, so also for Christmas, I bought her a pair of snowshoes for me (lucky me). Every weekend since then we've talked about snowshoeing but have never gone until today. We picked out a spot in Rocky Mountain National Park that's only a little over an hour drive away. But before we left, I checked the Rocky Mountain National Park cameras at the entrance we usually drive into the park at and found no snow. It's the middle of winter and the Eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park doesn't have enough snow for snowshoeing. I did find some cameras that told us to drive to the Western side of Rocky Mountain National Park (an extra hour) if we wanted to snowshoe.

Not really wanting to drive that far, I started thinking... A few years ago I went snowshoeing with Colorado State University. I started looking back through my blog and found a snowshoeing trip to Zimmerman Lake in 2012. It looked to be about the same distance West as where we would have to go in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it was just under 2 hours away, so I figured that would be our destination.

We started driving towards Poudre Canyon a little after 11 am. It was 65 degrees outside and only a few little patches of snow were lingering in the shade. We figured that there had to be snow that high in altitude (around 10,000 feet) so we kept driving. First, 1 hour passed by, then an hour and a half, and still very little snow with less than 30 minutes to our destination. We were getting concerned that we were going to go mudding and not snowshoeing! About 5 miles from the parking lot, the amount of snow on the side of the road and ground started to pick up. Maybe there's some hope after all... We got to the parking lot, got out of the car, and there was enough snow to snowshoe!

We got dressed and put on our snowshoes and started on the 2.7-mile round trip loop that takes you out to and around Zimmerman lake. We soon realized we were way overdressed. It was in the low 40's outside and we had all our winter gear on. We quickly unzipped our coats and felt the breeze cool us down (which was ironic because we decided not to go snowshoeing all the previous weekends because of the high wind gusts, and this weekends expected wind was no different).

The 867 vertical feet in elevation gain doesn't sound like much, but it was killer. Summer Noah and Katie would have laughed at our performance for this hike with how many times we had to stop and catch our breath, but we have to start somewhere for the hiking season. At least we had (what I would consider) a respectable time of an hour and a half for the entire 2.7 miles round trip.

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Location:Poudre
Distance:2.70mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 30 minutes
Elevation Gain:867ft
Max Elevation:10,897ft

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2017

Horsetooth Hike in November - Nov 26, 2017

It's a little crazy, but we went on a hike at the end of November when the weather should be cold and snowy. The thing is, that it wasn't. We've had several days of wonderful weather lately, and I'm not complaining. I've been able to work outside in the garage (with the garage doors open for the extra light), go outside without a jacket, let alone a coat, and go on hikes.

Katherine and I picked Horsetooth for a few reasons, we knew the temperature on the hike would be pretty close to the temperature in the city, we knew it wouldn't be snowy (like Rocky Mountain National Park surely is), and we hadn't hiked Horsetooth in a little while.

The round trip hike was exactly 5 miles and took us 2 hours and 52 minutes, including the 30-minute long lounge we had at the summit. The hike had a total elevation gain of 1,555 feet.

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Location:Fort Collins
Distance:5.00mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 53 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,555ft
Max Elevation:7,256ft

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Bridal Veil Falls - Aug 27, 2017

Once again, Katherine and I ventured into Rocky Mountain National Park to do some hiking. We picked a less popular hike, although it was still very rewarding with the views when we reached our destination. The hike started at the Cow Creek Trailhead. The trailhead was right next to the McGraw Ranch, which is owned by the National Parks Service. What used to be a dude ranch in the early 1900's is now a research facility.

The hike was really nice, the first half of it was hiking through a meadow with lots of wild flowers, the second part of the hike was through trees and more meadows. The trail followed along side the Cow Creek, and we were on the northern side of Lumpy Ridge.

The hike was 6.3 miles round trip and took 3 hours and 19 minutes, including about 45 minutes that we were stopped at Bridal Viel Falls. It took an hour and 15 minutes to get to the falls, and the same amount of time to hike back out to the car. Total elevation gain was 1175 feet.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:6.30mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 19 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,175ft
Max Elevation:8,815ft

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Mt. Sherman @ 14,036 ft. - Aug 19, 2017

We decided to do our first 14'er together. Katherine's parents wanted to do a 14'er, so we tagged along. This was my first 14'er, and Katherine has done a few other ones with her parents before. Despite Mount Sherman being the easiest 14'er in Colorado, it was treacherous. It may have only been 2.5 miles from the start to the top, but it had 2100 feet of elevation gain that just killed our legs and exhausted our lungs the whole way up. In addition, our day started at 3:30 am to make it to the trailhead by 6:30 am. Aside from that, it was a really nice hike. The hike started at the Fourmile Creek Trailhead, located just outside of Fairplay. For the first half of the hike, we hiked along the old mining roads which still had old mining equipment and buildings scattered along the road. The other half of the hike started at the saddle in between Mount Sheridan and Mount Sherman. From there, we hiked along the gusty ridge that had steep drop-offs on either side. We're lucky we didn't get blown off the ridge!

Katherine and I made it to the summit in just over 2 hours. Katherine's parents meet us at the summit about a half hour later and we all relaxed at the top together for a half hour. It took an additional 2 hours to get down from the mountain. Because of the steep grade and the extremely loose footing, you had to take extra time not to fall off the side of the ridge. This was extremely difficult on the way down.

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Location:Fairplay, Colorado
Distance:2.50mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 30 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,100ft
Max Elevation:14,036ft

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Bear, Nymph, Dream, and Emerald Lake - Aug 12, 2017

Today we headed into Rocky Mountain National Park again for the 4th time this summer. We decided to do the most popular hike in all of Rocky Mountain National Park; the hike to Emerald Lake. It starts at the Bear Lake trailhead, and you pass two other lakes along the way (Nymph Lake and Dream Lake). On our way back, we stopped by Bear Lake (since it's 250 feet from the trail head). Of all the four lakes we hiked to, Nymph Lake was our favorite because of the wild Lillies floating in the water. The weather was pretty good, upper 60's, but it was pretty windy at the lakes.

The the whole hike was a little over 3.5 miles long and a little over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The lakes were spaced out about a half-mile from each other, so it didn't take very long to get to the last lake. Total hiking time was 2 hours and 22 minutes from start to finish.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:3.50mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 22 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,000ft
Max Elevation:10,475ft

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Ouzel Falls - Aug 5, 2017

Katherine and I went up into Allenspark up to the Wild Basin Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park. The entrance to the park was right by the venue that my sister got married at a few years ago, so that was a nice memento since just a few weeks ago was their two year anniversary. That was the first time we had gone back to Allenspark since the wedding, so it was nice to hike in an area that we typically don't go to very often.When we got to the trailhead, we got the very last parking spot and started heading to the falls. About 1/8 mile into the hike I stopped, checked my camera and realized I left my SD card in the car, so I had to go back. Good thing I remembered and good thing I caught it before we got to the first photo opportunity!

The hike took us a total of 2 hours and 46 minutes. We were actually moving for an hour and 36 minutes, so it was a pretty relaxing hike with frequent stops for photos! The round trip distance (including my 1/8 mile out and then back to the car for an SD card) was 5.73 miles, with a total elevation gain of 1070 feet.

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Location:Allenspark
Distance:5.73mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 46 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,070ft
Max Elevation:8,670ft

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Coyote Ridge - Jul 8, 2017

Katherine and I made a quick hike up Coyote Ridge. We didn't want to do anything too strenuous, so this is what we came up with. The hike took us an hour and 45 minutes and was a total of 4.2 miles. The elevation gain was only 581 feet, so it wasn't that difficult of a hike.

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Location:Fort Collins
Distance:4.20mi
Hiking Time:1 hour, 46 minutes
Elevation Gain:581ft
Max Elevation:5,853ft

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Mount Ida @ 12,888 ft. - Jul 2, 2017

Katherine and I made it into Rocky Mountain National Park for a hike in some altitude. We have been talking about doing a 14'er sometime this summer, so we thought we would try a hike that started at a pretty high altitude with good altitude gain. Our original intent was to make it to peak 12,150, which is about a mile and a half from the summit of Mount Ida. There was only one turn off on the entire hike to go to Peak 12,150, and we missed it. We knew we missed it after the fact, so we decided to summit Mount Ida instead. The hike started at an elevation of 10,759 Ft. on the Continental Divide at Milner Pass. From there we hiked South of the Continental Divide towards the Pacific Ocean. We summited at Mount Ida 4.6 miles later at an elevation of 12,888 Ft.

The total elevation gain (there and back) was 2,496 Ft., which is much more than we have done in any other hike. We didn't spend much time at the summit because some clouds were rolling in. We wanted to make it below the tree level before any serious weather hit. Luckily, we made it all the way back to the car without getting any rain, but by the time we were half-way down the mountain, the summit was getting pounded with rain. We heard thunder a few times on the hike back, but never saw lightning. We saw several people hiking up while we were hiking down which we both thought was stupid. One person even asked us if the storm had passed the summit, in which Katherine and I both thought the person was an idiot for knowingly hiking into a storm.

Overall, it was a difficult hike that neither Katherine or I was prepared for. The 9.3-mile round trip hike took a total of 4 hours, 45 minutes. We were moving for just under 3 hours of that time.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:9.30mi
Hiking Time:4 hours, 45 minutes
Elevation Gain:2,496ft
Max Elevation:12,888ft

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Gregory Canyon and Flagstaff Mountain - Jun 17, 2017

Katherine and I decided to drive into Boulder for a hike this weekend. Katherine just bought some new hiking boots (so she wouldn't roll her ankle) so we decided to test them out! The hike took up about 2 and a half hours and was a total round trip distance of 4 miles. On the 2 mile journey up, it was 1155 ft of elevation gain. We started down near Chautauqua Park and hiked to the realization point.

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Location:Boulder
Distance:4.00mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 30 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,155ft
Max Elevation:7,017ft

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Alberta Falls - Jun 10, 2017

Katherine and I drove up to Rock Mountain National Park. It's only about an hour from our house, so we bought an annual membership. We hiked up to Alberta Falls and on to Mills Lake. The total round trip distance was 5.33 miles, and it was a total elevation gain of 1450ft. It took us just under 3 and a half hours, stopping frequently for photos. Our moving time was actually just over an hour of that 3 and a half hour journey.

Edit July 7, 2018
Katherine and I were looking at the hikes we haven't done and found that we wanted to go to The Loch, a lake that is the opposite direction of Mills Lake once you've hiked about 2 miles in. Turns out, on the hike for these photos, we actually ended up at The Loch Lake instead of Mills Lake like we originally thought. The reason (most likely) is due to the snow when we went in 2017 - the snow was covering some of the trail signs and we had to do some guessing. Anyway, this photo album is of Alberta Falls and The Loch Lake.

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Location:Rocky Mountain National Park
Distance:5.33mi
Hiking Time:3 hours, 30 minutes
Elevation Gain:1,450ft
Max Elevation:10,672ft

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Coyote Ridge - May 13, 2017

Katherine and I decided to go see what Coyote Ridge was like this Saturday. The weather was in the mid 70's and we didn't want to go far for a morning hike. Overall, it was a great hike! We didn't make it all the way to the top because Katherine's ankle is still sore from the Mallory Cave hike we did 4 weeks ago! That's okay though, it was a really nice hike and it was fun to get out of the house.

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Location:Fort Collins
Distance:4.12mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 0 minute
Elevation Gain:0ft
Max Elevation:0ft

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Mallory Cave Hike - Apr 16, 2017

Katherine and I went into Boulder for a hike up at NCAR. We picked out the Mallory Caves hike. The caves were closed for the season, but it was still a great hike. The last 100 vertical feet were almost straight up (seriously, I'm surprised the city of Boulder doesn't close that part of the trail). It was a nice afternoon hike!

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Location:Boulder
Distance:5.00mi
Hiking Time:2 hours, 0 minute
Elevation Gain:0ft
Max Elevation:0ft

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Devil's Backbone - Mar 19, 2017

The first hike of the season! Katie and I picked a pretty easy one, and one that is just a few minutes away from our new house. Previously we had to drive about 30 minutes to get to Devil's backbone, but now it's just a quick drive away! As I was editing and posting these photos, I reflected back on one of my previous Devil's Backbone albums and I realized how much greener Devil's Backbone is in the summer time. We will have to go back over the summer to get a more vibrant experience!

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Location:
Distance:0.00mi
Hiking Time:0 minute
Elevation Gain:0ft
Max Elevation:0ft

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