IT’S HARD TO BE AN ATHLETE

My Hiking Hero is Bette Erickson from right here in Broomfield, Colorado.  Bette is the author of Best Boulder Region Hiking Trails (my hiking bible), and about 600 other great hiking books.  (Well — that’s maybe a slight exaggeration!)

Bette also writes a weekly article for our Broomfield Enterprise newspaper.  Each week she gives you a glimpse into the details of a hiking trail.  My perception of Bette is that she glides up even the most difficult trails because — gosh — isn’t that what your hero does?!?!?

So imagine my surprise when I read last week’s Enterprise article where Bette’s first paragraph started with “Age is a sneaky thief.”  She wrote that it stiffens your knees, slows your metabolism, causes mysterious aches, and (gasp) muddies your mind!

Well — how ironic!  Read on ……….

Friday, June 27th, Map Master, Wandering Ju and I discovered the beautiful Lost Creek Wilderness area.  There are over 121,000 acres of box canyons, crooked creeks, twisty trails, rock towers, arches, and 150 peaks (no fourteeners, however).  Lost Creek Wilderness often has a quicker thaw, which means the trails open earlier, and the flowers appear earlier.

For our June 27th hike, we chose the closest trailhead to Broomfield (just outside of Bailey) which provided access into the northeast portion of Lost Creek Wilderness.

Lost1

Lost3

The trail climbs gradually through ponderosa and pine forests and then descends into open meadows along Craig Creek.

Happy Hikers!

Happy Hikers!

History Lesson:  Payne Creek is named for Jim Payne.  In the late 1800′s and early 1900′s Payne and others logged all the way up the valley to the divide between Payne Creek and Craig Creek.

An Interesting Fact:  The Colorado Trail crosses eight mountain ranges, seven national forests, five river systems, and six wilderness areas — one of which is Lost Creek Wilderness!  Most of The Colorado Trail is above 10,000 feet and it can take six to eight weeks to hike the entire trail.

We reached the intersection of Payne Gulch trail and Brookside trail.  There was some slight confusion (muddy-ing of the mind perhaps?) between me and Map Master, but we stayed on the Payne Gulch trail.

Lost4

We continued on Payne Gulch trail, hoping to intersect The Colorado Trail, but today — it was just a little too far.  We stopped near Payne Creek for lunch.  The pictures below do not do justice.  We had to cross some pretty old, slippery, rotting logs to reach the other side of the creek — where I was convinced we would have a much more pleasant place to lunch.

Ummmmmmmm

Ummmmmmmm

Lost6

We all made it.

"You know Bear Scout -- it's the same on this side of the creek -- we really didn't have to cross those logs!"

“You know Bear Scout — it’s the same on this side of the creek — we really didn’t have to cross those logs!”

After lunch (and chocolates), we crossed those old, slippery, rotting logs again.

"Sorry M.O.M.s"

“Sorry M.O.M.s”

"I think it's easier the second time!"

“I think it’s easier the second time!”

As we headed back to the car we talked about all our ailments — Wandering Ju mentioned her hurting feet and heels; Map Master mentioned that sometimes her hips hurt the next day; and I am perfect!  No — just kidding!  I mentioned that sometimes my lower back hurts.  There were comments made about getting older, and about mysterious stiffness in our joints, knees, etc.

“No!” I said, “We are not going to succumb to that “old age” thing.  And that’s when Map Master said it!  So — Bette — age is not a sneaky thief.  To quote Map Master ……….

“It’s just hard to be an athlete!!”

Amen Sister!

The M.O.M. Athletes!!!!!

The M.O.M. Athletes!!!!!

 

A PICTURE IS WORTH TEN THOUSAND STAIRS

Where:     Praiano, Italy

When:     June 3, 2014

Who:     Bear Scout, Map Master and Animal

What:     Path of the Gods trail

Why it’s called that:     Because there is a good chance you might actually see God!

Weather conditions:     About 32.22 degrees Celsius (that’s about 90 degrees Fahrenheit)

Humidity:     Oh — I don’t know — about 110%

*********************************************************************************

We spent ten glorious days in Italy.  On June 3rd we hiked near our villa.  Here (in pictures) is our hike on the Amalfi Coast.

We left our villa …..

Gods1

….. and climbed 550 stairs to the trailhead.  (Yes — I counted!)

Gods2

Keep going Animal — we’re still about 300 stairs away!

Gods3

You too Bear Scout and Map Master.

Gods4

Look at that view!

Gods5

Look at the view of our trail!

Gods6

Here is proof that the trail was not all stairs.

Gods7

However, the level parts of the trail were few and far between.

Gods8

Happy to be on level ground.

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We crossed paths with a couple from Den Bosch, Netherlands.  Last year Map Master and Animal’s son, Drew, and his partner, Reid, lived in the town of Den Bosch.  Reid worked there for three months and Drew joined him for two of those months.  Amazing!  What are the odds?

History Lesson from Drew:  Den Bosch’s actual name is s’Hertogenbosch.  It means Frog Hill.  Before the Dutch canals took over the swamps, there was only one hill above the swamps and it was loaded with lots of frogs.  There are only two breweries in Den Bosch.  One is Cafe Bar Le Duc, and the other is the largest Heineken brewery in the world!  Proost!!!

"Hello Drew and Reid.  We'll look for your Colorado flag at the Cafe Bar Le Duc."

“Hello Drew and Reid. We’ll look for your Colorado flag at the Cafe Bar Le Duc.”

We didn’t make it all the way to Positano (what seemed like an additional 600 miles).

Map

I mean — really! — check out the topo map.

Thank you Google Earth!

Thank you Google Earth!

But we certainly enjoyed our hike up Path of the Gods.

Hey Animal -- wait for us!

“Hey Animal — wait for us!”

All these stairs have made me hungry for spaghetti!

“All these stairs have made me hungry for spaghetti!”

Until next time — Grazie per la pista!

 

GOLDEN GATE CANYON STATE PARK CASTS ITS’ SPELL

There were several days of rain before our Friday, May 16th hike.  Wandering Ju and I decided to hike anyway and were pleasantly surprised to find Horseshoe Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park mud-free!

Wandering Ju had hiked this trail just a few weeks before with her other hiking group, and I was glad she was willing to hike it again with me.

We grabbed our daily pass at the Visitor’s Center …..

HorseshoeA

….. then headed to the Horseshoe Trail.

Horseshoe1

The beauty and remoteness of this trail made it an absolutely perfect day!

Wandering Ju leads the way.

Wandering Ju leads the way.

When we reached Frazer Meadow, we stopped for a quick lunch.

History Lesson:  In 1869 John Frazer homesteaded 160 acres, and added another 160 acres in 1883.  Frazer, who didn’t have complete use of one leg, worked the land by growing hay.  He had a few cows and two horses.  He built a small log cabin that contained only a pot-bellied stove, two chairs and a table.  He slept on the floor in a bedroll of blankets.

Bear Scout Note:  Obviously a single guy!

Back to the History Lesson:  Frazer traded logs for supplies like coffee, salt and sugar.  In January, 1894, he was taking a load of logs to Black Hawk when one of the chains broke and he was crushed and died alone on the road.  All that remains of his homestead now is his barn.

Frazer's barn

Frazer’s barn

Bear Scout loves those rocks!

Bear Scout loves those rocks!

We made it safely down the trail to the parking lot.  You know how sometimes you hike a trail and just can’t wait to go back?  That how I felt!

Golden Gate Canyon Park has cast its’ spell.
I can’t wait to go back and hike more trails!

Spell

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Why is a picture worth a thousand words?  Because I just don’t have time for a thousand words!  (What?  Bear Scout is word-less?  It’s pretty cold down in you-know-where!)

May 2nd          The south end of Dowdy Draw trail

Ahhhh.  The foothills are calling.

Ahhhh. The foothills are calling

A short stroll through a few trees.

A short stroll through a few trees

Back into open space

Back into open space

Remnants of the September 11, 2013 flood

Remnants of the September 11, 2013 flood

Map Master carefully maneuvers her way across the stream

Map Master carefully maneuvers her way across the stream

And she looks happy she didn't fall in!

And is quite happy she didn’t fall in!

this was a beautiful creek, but is now littered with flood debris

This was a beautiful creek, but is now littered with flood debris

 

May 9th           White Rock Ranch heading towards Gunbarrel in Boulder

Before our Friday hike, it had rained hard for two days.  We thought this might be a less muddy trail for us.  Because it was so flat …..

White1

….. Map Master and I decided to practice Italian phrases we learned in the Italian class we took this spring (six of us are headed to Italy in a few weeks).

“Piacere di conoscerla”  (Pleased to meet you too!)
“Come sta?”  (Mud-less, thank you!)
“Quanto costa?”  (Who cares — just buy it!)
“Un litro di vino rosso della casa, per favore”  (Good idea!  Do I have to share?)

Pizza

We did take time to sneak a quick peek at the fabulous views to e’ destro …..

White2

….. and to e’ sinistra.

White3

When we finished our hike at 5.46 miles, we were ready for that glass of vino rosso!

Nothing like a little Italian on the trail!

pasta

I DUB THEE KNIGHTS OF THE MOST DISTINGUISHED ORDER OF THE M.O.M.s

Wandering Ju has self-diagnosed her foot with an Achilles problem.  Ouch!  It must have been chasing those Pirates in the British Virgin Islands.

Judy

On Friday, April 25th, Map Master and I chose to hike Lair o’ the Bear Park — primarily because the conditions were “dry.”  To us, this meant — NO M.O.M.s on MUD!  There are two main trails from the parking lot, and, after meandering around a few short trails, we started with the Bruin Bluff loop.

Lair1

I would have to say this was the easiest hike the M.O.M.s ever hiked.  There was maybe a 100 foot elevation gain overall, but it was quite beautiful as we wound through trees, wildflowers and over miniature creeks.

Lair2

The Bruin Bluff loop brought us back to the parking lot where we headed up the second trail, The Bear Creek Trail, which appropriately winds along Bear Creek.

Lair3

To the right of Map Master's head, I spied a fly fisherman!

To the right of Map Master’s head, I spied a fly fisherman!

Yep!  There he is!

Yep! There he is!

Rumor had it; we would see a Castle on the right side of the trail.  We were just about to give up when …..

..... there it was!

….. there it was!

Map Master conniving a way to get us on the grounds!

Map Master conniving a way to get us on the grounds!

Lair8

I sense a history lesson …………………..

Once upon a time — in 1941 — Marcus Wright (touted as an eccentric genius) created an architectural masterpiece — the Wright Castle.

Lair9

The Castle had 14 rooms, 4 baths, 7 closets, a dungeon, one turret, and a 22 foot water wheel.  Wright directed water from Bear Creek to his water wheel which, in turn, connected to one of the two hydroelectric plants on site.  Apparently, the free electric power would have cost over $20,000 per year if purchased from an outside source.  (Wow!  That’s close to the amount of my new Comcast bill after they told me they could save me money.  Another story for another day!)

A lot of Marcus’ original architectural designs are still visible in the Castle today — terrazzo floors, large stone fireplaces, arched doorways, and hardware and doorknobs designed as curled maple leaves.  There was also an 18-guage electric miniature railroad that looped around the property.

When Wright died, the Castle went into a trust and was reputed to have been a gambling hall and brothel.  (Gasp!)  When William and Tamsin Barnes purchased the Castle in 1969 (and renamed it the Barnes Castle), the Castle and grounds were in terrible shape.  The Barnes began thoroughly revamping everything.  Sadly, all future plans were terminated because William, Tasmin, and one of their three daughters died tragically in the infamous 1999 Egypt Air Flight 990 airline crash on Halloween morning.  The Boeing 767 reached a cruising altitude of 33,000 feet, and then mysteriously dove into the Atlantic Ocean.  Within five years, the Castle was in disrepair once again.

The current owners, Michael Dunafon and Debbie Matthews, acquired the Castle in 2004.  Based on historic photographs, existing blueprints, and interviews with surviving members of the Barnes and Wright families, Dunafon began restoration.  Dunafon hired guys from “Step 13″ (a program to rehabilitate homeless alcoholics and addicts), to restore the Castle.  The water wheel had been stuck in the mud for fifty years!  (That’s a long time to be stuck in mud!)  The “Step 13″ men sifted through trash and dirt to recover the original small parts and bolts needed to refurbish the hydroelectric power plant.

The restoration was a success!

The restoration was a success!

Today, Dunafon Castle is used primarily for charity benefits and weddings.

Lair11

After ogling, awww-ing, and picture taking, we headed back to the car so Map Master would be back in Broomfield for an afternoon meeting.

It was a great hike to Colorado’s very own Camelot!

Lair12

HEADING TO THE PLAINS!

On April 11th Speedy and I hiked Barr Lake State Park in Brighton, Colorado.

BarrLake10

Here at the Park you can go boating, picnicking, horseback riding, study nature (deer, pelicans, herons, egrets, ducks, grebes, owls, eagles and hawks), go waterfowl hunting, and fish.  Since neither of us brought our fishin’ poles, we just walked 9.57 miles around the perimeter of the lake.

BarrLake12

It was a hot, but beautiful day.

Standing in one of the Gazebos looking west at the snow-covered Rockies!

Looking west at the snow-covered Rockies!

We walked to several of the Gazebos.

BarrLake4

IMG_6433CE Barr Lake gazebo, Long's Peak.jpg Barr Lake

In the late 1880′s, Barr Lake was an elite outing area for sportsmen from Denver.  It was touted as the “finest fishing area in the west.”

We didn't see any of these.

We didn’t see any of these.

Since the early 1900′s, Barr Lake has been known as a premier bird-watching area.

We tried, but didn't see any of these either.

We tried, but didn’t see any of these either.

We did see this mom's nest through one of the telescopes at the Gazebo!

We did see this mom’s nest through one of the telescopes at the Gazebo!

At one point (for about a half mile) we walked next to the railroad tracks.  If you’re lucky (and we were), a train will whiz by at 120 mph.

Whizzing!

Whizzing!

After it passed, you could hear the tracks sizzling.  I told Speedy NOT to touch them.

OK -- never mind!

OK — never mind!

After a lunch stop at the Bruderlin Stone House/RMBO Environmental Learning Center, we crossed the bridge and headed back to the Nature Center (where we started).

BarrLake5

FIRE IN THE HOLE!!

"Hey Speedy, did you bring marshmallows?"

“Hey Speedy, did you bring marshmallows?”

Barr none — it was a fun day on the plains!

BarrLake11

BUSHWHACKING WITH SPEEDY

You might remember that a couple weeks ago Map Master’s friend, Suzanne, joined us on our hike to Roxborough State Park.  She was moniker-less.  (Gasp!)  Within the first mile of our hike, we dubbed her “Speedy” — for obvious reasons!

Woman

With Map Master and Wandering Ju sailing the British Virgin Islands with their spouses and friends, I thought it would be fun to hike again with Speedy!  She was available April 4th, so we made a plan to hike Matthew Winters/Dakota Ridge trails.  These are fairly easy trails and I chose them for a reason.  Short of tethering Speedy’s legs together — or slipping an Advil PM into her camelback — I figured I had a chance of keeping up with her!

As it turns out, good ole Mother Nature was helping me also.

"Why -- yes -- they did!"

“Don’t start with me Bear Scout!”

Mud!  Everywhere!

Did we turn around?  Heck no!  We continued trudging through the mud until we were stopped by heavy construction.  Apparently the bridge was out and they were rebuilding.  Um.  We’re so close!  The trail is just … right … over … there!  As we were devising a “plan” to install a zip line, an official-looking guy pulled up in his pickup.  We explained our dilemma and he told us he would check to see if there was a way around the bridge rebuilding.  (But a zip line would have been SO COOL!)

We waited for him to return.  And waited.  And waited.  Then we began slowly inching our way down the hill.  No one was following us.  No one was even looking in our direction!  We bushwhacked our way further down towards the creek.  (Seriously — we could have used a machete!)

Speedy's my kind of gal!

Speedy’s my kind of gal!

We leaped across the creek and made it to the other side.  Whew!

We leaped across the creek and made it to the other side. Whew!

Here’s what was stopping us …..

Speedy4

As we were patting ourselves on our backs, we looked up only to find …..

Closed

I looked at Speedy.  Speedy looked at me.  I mean REALLY — we’d come this far to have to bushwhack our way back?  Never!  We breezed past the sign and up the trail!

Wanna know why it was closed?

Mud!  And more mud!

We finally made it to the top of the trail and stopped for lunch.

"I am the Speed Queen of Bushwhacking!"

“I am the Speed Queen of Bushwhacking!”

"And I am the Bear Scout of Bushwhacking!"

“And I am the Bear Scout of Bushwhacking!”

After lunch, we thought we were on the Dakota Ridge trail, but found ourselves on mud-less pavement viewing dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Ridge.

History Lesson:  Dinosaur Ridge has hundreds of dinosaur tracks, a quarry of dinosaur bones, and interesting geologic features.  The Dinosaur Ridge Bone Site was discovered in 1877.  It is here that the world’s first Stegosaurus was discovered.  They found several vertebrae and parts of limbs.  Down the road at the Dinosaur Tracksite, over 300 tracks have been identified.

Dinosaur tracks

Dinosaur tracks

Speedy8

Water ripples

Water ripples

It has probably been 30 years since I last visited Dinosaur Ridge.  It was fun to stumble upon it again.  (Or maybe I was just happy to leave the mud.)

We continued up the road to find the alleged trail connection to Dakota Ridge trail.  (This is where we were headed in the first place!)  We looked up the hill and there were about nine deer laughing at us.

"Ten bucks (get it?) says they fall in the mud!"

“Ten bucks (get it?) says they fall in the mud!”

Meanwhile …..

Speedy scouts for the trail connection.

Speedy scouts for the trail connection.

About a half mile down the road, we found the Zorro trail.  Um.  OK — do you think that will lead us to the Dakota Ridge trail Bernado (look it up)?  Why not!

Turnback

If we thought we were in mud before — we were really in mud now.

Our boots weighed five pounds each!

Our boots weighed five pounds each!

We stuck it out, continued sliding through the mud, and at mile 8.67, made it back to the parking lot.  I wonder if mud is in part responsible for the extinction of those dinosaurs?

Dinomud

A CIRCUS HIKE

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Faithful Blog Followers!  Boys and girls and children of all ages!  Welcome to the greatest hike on earth!

On March 28th, the M.O.M.s chose to hike Meyer Ranch Park in Jefferson County!

Moms

Legend has it that during the winter months in the late 1800′s, Meyer Ranch housed the animals from P. T. Barnum’s circus!

Circa August 1889

Circa August 1889

You ask yourselves – “Is this true?!?”

"Of course it's true!"

“Of course it’s true!”

Why YES Ladies, Gentlemen, and Faithful Blog Followers!

Meyer Ranch was homesteaded in 1870!  In 1883 Louis and Mary Ramboz (doesn’t that sound circus-like?!) purchased Meyer Ranch, built their home, and called it The Midway House!  The ranch had several owners until 1950 when it was purchased and remodeled by Norman and Ethel Meyer!  Look closely and here you see an amazing picture of the house as it stands today!

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

But to answer your question Ladies, Gentlemen, and Faithful Blog Followers — it was confirmed in 1955 when a board was found during the remodeling!  On the board was inscribed “Circus Town 1889!”  PROOF that Phineas Barnum’s circus animals roamed the foothills of Colorado!

"I think I see an elephant!"

“I think I see an elephant!”

"Do you think these poles will be strong enough to handle the elephants?"

“Do you think these poles will be strong enough to handle the elephants?”

And now everyone — we will carefully follow the M.O.M.s on their dangerous hike through Meyer Ranch Park as they search for clues — ANY CLUE — that the circus animals wintered in our beautiful foothills!

The trails were muddy!  The trails were icy!  The M.O.M.s were determined to hike all four loops of Meyer Ranch Park!  They almost did it!  Had it not been for other hikers urging them to turn around, they would have hiked to Old Ski Run — the highest and most spectacular point in the Park!

The M.O.M.s were hungry!  The M.O.M.s needed their chocolates!  They were tired of navigating through the mud and ice!

Meyer2

Map Master and Wandering Ju BEGGED Bear Scout to let them sit at the old picnic table and consume their lunch!

"Pleeease"

“Pleeease”

Bear Scout would have none of it!!  She pulled them from the picnic table (’cause M.O.M.s don’t eat lunch on picnic tables!) foraged through the shady, thick aspen groves and found a downed tree facing the sun!  The M.O.M.s cautiously enjoyed their “Lunch On A Log” all the while keeping a keen eye out for animal footprints!

Boing!  Boing!

Boing! Boing!

Traveling once again through dangerous mud and ice, the M.O.M.s were certain that decades of harsh winters and wind had successfully destroyed the footprints of the lions, and the tigers, and the bears!  (No — this is not the Wizard of Oz!)  This is the CIRCUS!!!!!

"Look Thaddeus -- is Bear Scout performing the tightrope on all that ice?!"

“Look Thaddeus — is Bear Scout performing the tightrope on all that ice?!”

Swoosh!

Swoosh!

And then Ladies, Gentlemen, and Faithful Blog Followers — Bear Scout eyed something shiny in the bark of a tree!  With all her strength she miraculously managed to pull it out!  It was an old daguerreotype (look it up) of none other than Annie Jones (1860-1902)!!  Annie was the American bearded woman that toured with the P. T. Barnum circus in the late 1800′s!!!

With all that hair -- Bear Scout just thinks Annie was in menopause!

With all that hair — Bear Scout just thinks Annie was in menopause!

Nonetheless!  THAT Ladies, Gentlemen, and Faithful Blog Followers is FINAL PROOF once again that the P. T. Barnum circus was, indeed — at some point in time! — an occupant of Meyer Ranch Park!

But Hush!  What’s that we hear?!?!?

“Grab your seats — the Circus is about to begin!”

Clown

M.O.M.s SPEEDY HIKE

There was a girl with little blonde curls,
That joined the M.O.M.s on their hike.

Rox1

She was Map Master’s friend and fit as a fiddle,
‘Cause she swims and hikes and bikes.

We started a trail at Roxborough State Park,
Even though signs said our trail was closed.

Rox2

We were happy to see that the signs were all wrong,
So we gathered the M.O.M.s for a pose.

Rox3

The girl with the curls said she had no moniker.
Something the M.O.M.s could not neglect.

She looks lost without a moniker!

Doesn’t she look lost without a moniker?

As she sped up the trail while we tried to catch up,
The M.O.M.s thought “Speedy” seemed perfect!

Or maybe "Roadrunner?"

Or maybe “Roadrunner?”  Beep Beep

 

Lunchtime was nearing as Speedy reached the top,
And the M.O.M.s perfect lunch spot was nailed.

"I found my throne," said Map Master!

“I found my throne,” said Map Master!

We dined on our lunches; munched all our chocolates,
And headed back down the trail.

Rox5

Wandering Ju is ready to go!

Wandering Ju is ready to go!

Although Roxborough was muddy, (like — REALLY REALLY muddy!)
We thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Rox9

 

We’ll go back to Roxborough for another hike,
Because its’ beauty just blew us away!

Rox8