Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This past weekend I hiked a 14er for the first time with a dog! Dempsey and I climbed Huron Peak (14,003') near Leadville, Colorado. We also brought along Dempsey's person, Seth. I climbed this peak in 2006 with Lisa but took the non-standard route and ascended the back side of the mountain.

On this 11-mile round trip hike (taking the standard route) we gained 3,800' of elevation and ultimately achieved the summit! I was too nervous to take my Subaru on the 2.1 mile 4-wheel-drive road, so we walked it. I felt ok about that because we saw nothing but trucks and jeeps at the trailhead and passed bits of cars on the road on the way up. After the road portion, the hike pretty much went up, steeply at times, for the rest of the way. We started at 6:00 am, and hit the top right around 9:00 am. After a night filled intermittently with sleep in a tent, 6:00 am felt quite early:

The sky was clouded for most of the ascent and there was still ice on the creek in some spots. It even snowed a bit just after we departed the summit. Overall though there wasn't much snow - a complete departure from last year's snow situation.

Summit shots - this was Seth and Dempsey's first 14er and they did great!

The Three Apostles were stunning from the summit:

The hike out was a slow back and forth down switchbacks to get below treeline and back onto the road. We were treated to plenty of flowers and more amazing views on the hike out:

We were packed up and back on paved roads by noon.  All in all, a fantastic way to spend a Saturday morning.

Monday, June 4, 2012


The Blah life went on the road this weekend - to Steamboat Springs, Colorado!

Per the Colorado norm, the weather was gorgeous.  An 11 mile hike in the Mount Zirkel wilderness was the highlight of the trip. We hiked the Gold Creek Lake-Gilpin Trail loop from the Slavonia trailhead.  The information said that the trailhead had limited parking and that there was heavy usage, so we arrived around 8 AM. There was plenty of parking and we saw almost no one on the entire hike. The guidebook also said that the scenery was "above average." We pondered what "average" scenery is for Colorado and what does "above average" mean...seems like a strange scale.

Although upon completion of the hike, I have to agree with the "above average" rating. Not only were there aspen forests and fields of avalanche lilies, there was a porcupine! It just ambled across the trail and away into the woods as if we weren't even there. The photo below is the only evidence I have and is of its retreat.

The fields of little yellow, down-turned avalanche lilies provided a perfect stage for frolicking:

There was also fungus, which was a big surprise because I don't normally expect to see mushrooms until late summer/early fall. There was even fungus coming up out of the snow!

We even spotted a beefsteak morel (aka brain mushroom), I've only ever seen these one other time in Colorado and they were fairly plentiful on this hike. Here's a little clump of them. 

We did eventually run into some snow near an alpine lake and we lost the trail...this might explain why there were fewer cars and people than expected. Here's what it looked like at the shore of the lake:

There were some ominous clouds that made us a little anxious when we lost the trail completely on the north side of the lake.  Luckily there were some footsteps in the snow that led us back to the beaten path.

The next day we did a short hike to and around Fish Creek Falls. It too had great things - slugs, butterflies, beautiful flora:

And, bonus! There was a cute guy hanging around the falls:

So that was a vacation from the blah life. Now I'm back to the blah. I'm not complaining though! A blah day in Colorado is worth a good week in many other places.

Until next time...