FINCH LAKE OR BUST!

A couple years ago, we hiked the trail to Finch Lake, only to fall short by a couple miles due to weather — or maybe one of us had to get back for a “function” — or who knows.

On Friday, August 29th, Map Master and I were determined to make it to the lake.  As it turns out — we needed that determination!

The day started out beautiful and sunny.

Finch2

Several trails converge about 1.8 miles from the trailhead.

Only 32 more miles.

Only 3.2 more miles.

"We've got this Bear Scout!"

“We’ve got this Bear Scout!”

The grade increased as the trail entered the area devastated by a forest fire in 1978.  (I believe this is where we turned around a couple years ago.)  Because of the bare, charred trees, we had beautiful views of the mountainside.

The sun was shinning as we crossed several foot bridges and continued on the trail.

Finch11

Finch1

And quite suddenly – there it was!  Finch Lake.

Beautiful!!

Beautiful!!

Woo hoo!  We made it this time!  A leisurely stroll around the lake found us the perfect rock to enjoy our lunch.  Even a couple ducks floated by to show off their bug-diving lake skills.  They were quite entertaining.

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Finch7

Hey — what’s that in the water?  That’s a funny lookin’ duck!  Why — it’s Map Master’s rain coat!

Kinda cool that it floats!

Kinda cool that it floats!

Got it!

Got it!

We were facing southeast as we dined on lunch.  Had we been facing northwest, we would have been able to see the dark rain clouds rolling in.

We quickly downed our chocolates (nothing gets in the way of that!), shook out Map Master’s rain coat, and quickly headed 4 miles down the trail.

The skies were getting darker and darker.

Finch13

We were just one mile from the trailhead when it began raining.  It wasn’t raining hard.  Map Master and I found it quite invigorating actually.

We heard cracks of thunder (“Um — let’s pick up the pace”), and flashes of lightning (“Let’s pick up the pace a bit more please”).

And then the most Bizarro (one of Map Master’s favorite words) thing happened.  There was a crack of thunder and flash of lightning at the same time!

It looked something like this!

It looked something like this!

Map Master knew exactly what this meant.  I did not.  It was kind of surreal actually.

The dialogue went something like this:

MM:  “Bear Scout!  That was REALLY close!”
BS:  “Yeah?”
MM:  “YES!  Didn’t you notice there was NO time between the clap of thunder and the bright flash of lightning?”
BS:  “I did see the flash, but gosh — isn’t this invigorating?  And the flash was so beautiful!”
MM (sigh):  “We need to get out of here.”

To learn more, I Googled this when I got home.  Google (who knows EVERYTHING) says, “If you see lightning and hear thunder at the same time, that lightning is very close.  You are probably in line with the storm, and it may be moving toward you.”  It went on to say quite a bit more using words like “particularly dangerous,” “potential killer,” “striking as far as 5 or 10 miles from the storm,” etc.

I’m really glad I didn’t know that at the time.

We made it back to the trailhead in record time — albeit a bit wet — proud that our determination got us to Finch Lake.  After all — what’s a little bit of rain anyway …..

Hiking

BOYS WILL DO ANYTHING!!!

Wandering Ju and Map Master were both at Martha’s Vineyard volunteering at Camp Jabberwocky, so I called “The Boys” (Jazzy and The Prince) for a hike to Betasso Preserve.  The forecast for Friday, August 22nd was 70% chance of rain.  That didn’t even faze Jazzy or Prince.  There were “in” for the soggy adventure.

Better look out!

Better look out!

What will Boys do (besides hike in thunderstorms)?

Boys cross bridges.  Well — OK — what’s so special about that really?!?!?

"Easy Peasy Bear Scout"

“Easy Peasy Bear Scout”

Boys cross creeks.  Again — what’s so special?!?!?

Betasso4

I showed The Boys my favorite crash site on Four Mile Trail.

Betasso1

Boys CLIMB to the top of the bottom of the car (carefully avoiding POISON IVY) to see what make and model it is.  (Yeah — I wouldn’t do THAT!)

"I think it's a Hudson," says Jazzy

“I think it’s a Hudson,” says Jazzy

Seriously?!?!?  How the heck do you know that?

Guess you have to be a Boy

Guess you have to be a Boy

Boys like moss.

Betasso6

When Boys stop for lunch, they can find a Barcalounger in the rocks!

barcalounger-recliner

"Wake me when we're done hiking."

“Wake me when we’re done hiking.”

Boys will take 20 pictures of you “touching” Green Mountain until they get that perfect shot.  (Thanks Jazzy!)

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"Ta Da.  We did it!"

“Ta Da. We did it!”

Boys attract wildlife.

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And when you’re with The Boys — that 70% chance of rain is reduced to zero.  It just started sprinkling when we left Betasso.

Now THAT’S a good “Boy” trick!!!

HOW LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN REALLY GOT ITS’ NAME

Beaver Brook is a trail I’ve had on my “hiking bucket list” for about a year.  Map Master and I finally got there on Friday, August 8th.  From the description — it sounded delightful!

“A nice hike in the trees high above Clear Creek and Clear Creek Canyon.  The Beaver Brook Trail travels like a roller coaster through a variety of ecosystems and interesting rocky sections.”

I think I stopped reading at “roller coaster” and should have read through “interesting rocky sections.

I also missed a couple other “key” descriptions such as:

“Cluster of boulders on the trail …”
“A series of rocky sections …”
“Scramble through the boulders …”
“Cut across a slide area …”

Well — so much for Speed Reading!!!!

The earliest known inhabitants of Lookout Mountain were the Ute tribe of American Indians.  They used the mountain as a lookout point upon the surrounding region.  Thus, it’s name — Lookout Mountain.

Here is my theory as to why it is called Lookout Mountain.

The views were breathtaking!

Lookout1

Lookout2

But Lookout for those boulder fields!

Lookout Bear Scout!

Lookout Bear Scout!

Lookout Map Master

Lookout Map Master

Map Master takes a break after Looking Out for all those boulders!

Lookout5

Lookout Bear Scout — there are loose rocks above!

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We scrambled back over those boulder fields (Lookout!!) and hiked to the William “Buffalo Bill” Cody museum and gravesite where over 400,000 visitors a year visit the gift shop, food stands, picnic areas and (of course) Bill’s grave.  Map Master and I (sweaty and looking like we’d been lost for about 3 days) approached the museum (where clean, shorts-clad tourists emerged from their tour buses).

Tourists scattered as we made our way past the museum towards Bill’s grave.

Map Master photo bombs to the left .....

Map Master photo bombs to the left …..

..... and to the right!  You gotta Lookout for her!

….. and to the right! You gotta Lookout for her!

Buffalo Bill died in 1917 while visiting his sister’s home in Denver. “Lookout Bill — she’s not a very good cook!”  (I made that up — he died of kidney failure!)

Anyway — Lookout Mountain might have gotten its’ name because it was the Ute Indian’s lookout point, but I personally believe it was named Lookout Mountain because you really had to Lookout for all those boulders!

That’s my story — and I’m stickin’ to it!

"Oh No -- LOOKOUT!!!"

“Oh No — LOOKOUT!!!”

M.O.M.s MOOSE ENCOUNTERS

It was that time again — time to wrangle up “The Boys” for a hike.  It had been a year since we last hiked together.  I enticed them with turkey sandwiches, veggies and dip, chips, grapes, and chocolate brownie bites.  The only “Boy” that didn’t bite (get it?) was Leonard.  I think he just knows me too well!

“The Boys” (Tim McGinty and Mike Holstead) do not have monikers.  We just call them — “The Boys!”  Today, that would change.  We had Tim’s moniker identified before he hit the trail.  Jazzy.  Not because he’s a snappy dresser or anything — but because he is a true lover of all jazz music!

We began our hike about one mile from the Mitchell Lake parking area in Indian Peaks Wilderness.  The relatively easy trail took us through a subalpine forest and past many small ponds.

Bear Scout and Mike

Bear Scout and Mike

I was even able to do a bit of rock climbing (for which I’m famous!).

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Jazzy poses next to Mitchell Creek.

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Jazzy and Mike pose at Mitchell Creek.

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To cross the raging Creek, you had to maneuver over a rotting, dilapidated L-shaped foot bridge.

Jazzy, Mike and Bear Scout  ---  ONE Raging Mitchell Creek      --- ZERO

Jazzy, Mike and Bear Scout — THREE
Raging Mitchell Creek — ZERO

The trail took us through the wilderness boundary to Mitchell Lake (about 10,700 feet).  It was quite muddy (which I understand is pretty much year-round), and quite rocky.

Bear Scout is King of the Rocks!

Bear Scout is King of the Rocks!

We realized time was getting away from us (gosh — where did it go?), and had to stop about a half mile from Blue Lake.  Before heading back — it was time for that enticing lunch.

Jazzy looks Happy!

Jazzy looks Happy!

Jazzy took (what I believe to be) the BEST spontaneous selfie!

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As we neared the trailhead, Mike received his moniker.  The Prince.

“The Prince?”  Is he Royalty?” you ask.

The Prince sent Jazzy and I ahead on the trail, so the car would be ready when The Prince arrived at the trailhead.  Yes – The Prince was dubbed!

So Jazzy and I headed to the car.

“Hey Jazzy!  I think I see something!”

Moose1

“No — maybe not!”

“Well — actually — I think I do see something.”

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Moose3

Moooooooooooose!!!!!!! ……………………………..

funny-moose

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

One Week Later ……………………

Map Master wanted to see moose, so the following Friday (July 25th), we went back to Indian Peaks Wilderness and hiked Buchanan Pass trail.  We were hopeful!  (Others might have another name for us!)

We crossed another raging creek (Middle St. Vrain Creek).

This time on a real bridge.

This time on a real bridge.

Buchanan5

Further up the trail.

Buchanan3

The flowers were beautiful.

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A lone columbine!

A lone columbine!

We had given up hope of a moose sighting when several groups of hikers coming down the trail said they saw a cow and two calves near Coney Flats.

Oh yippee!

We continued past Timberline Falls, and entered the marshy expanse of Coney Flats.

Doesn't it look like there should be a moose right around the corner?

Doesn’t it look like there should be a moose right around the corner?

We continued a bit further and still — no moose.  But look at this view!

Sawtooth Mountain (12,305 feet)

Sawtooth Mountain (12,305 feet)

We stopped for lunch and chocolates — yadda yadda — then headed down the trail.

THEN — just to the left of the trail — FRESH MOOSE SCAT!!  We missed them by about ten minutes (according to my expert moose scat training).  I was sad I couldn’t show Map Master a moose — this was the best I could do!

"Should we follow the scat trail Map Master?"

“Should we follow the scat trail Map Master?”

But Wait!

I Googled Moose Poop (to make certain that was what we found), and you know what pooped — I mean popped — up?!?!?  During their long winters, people in Maine make Moose Poop Jewelry!!!  It is (and I quote), “….. fully dried, does not smell, and is coated with polyurethane to be safe.”  Seriously?!?!?  If I’m bored this winter and I make Moose Poop Jewelry, will my faithful blog followers order a necklace?  Or perhaps a pair of earrings?  Place your orders now!

Jewelry

funny-moose

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.

Gods9

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.

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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.

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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!

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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