A FAIRY TALE HIKE TO BLUE LAKE

Once

….. I actually made it to Blue Lake.  On July 18th I almost made it with The Boys (Jazzy and Prince), but we fell about a mile short.

We took it in stride!

We took it in stride!

On October 3rd Wandering Ju and I left Broomfield to hike the short trail (2.5 miles one way) to Blue Lake.  It was a beautiful day!

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

There were no cars in the parking lot, so for the first time in years, we were actually able to park at the Mitchell Lake trailhead.  Oh — it’s a glorious day!

We soon discovered why there were no cars in the parking lot.

Blue2

The trail was 98.6% ice and snow.  We passed a few hikers that warned us there was quite a bit of snow approaching Blue Lake.  They warned us to be careful because the deep snow could easily lead us off trail.  They warned us that the trail was very icy.  But what the heck!  — we had our poles, gloves, warm jackets, and plenty of chocolate.  Blue Lake here we come!!!

Blue1

It did feel more like we were ice skating to Blue Lake, than hiking to Blue Lake.  We both left our Yaktrax at home, but I was so excited to make it to Blue Lake — I didn’t care!

We hiked through dense forest; past Mitchell Lake; and onward until we had to cross a long, icy L-shaped log bridge to cross a wide stream.

Scary!

Scary!

Yikes!

Yikes!

Piece of cake!

Piece of cake!

Because of so much ice and snow, we accidentally veered onto the “wrong” trail, but circled back, and continued on the “right” trail.  Oh yes! — a glorious day!

After what seemed an eternity, I did it!  I finally made it to ………………………….

POOF!

POOF!

Hey! — this is a Fairy Tale.  Remember?

Fairy Tales aren’t true.

According to Wiki:  “A Fairy Tale is a made-up story usually designed to mislead.  A fabricated story — especially one intended to deceive.  For example:  Everything he told us about his happy marriage was just a Fairy Tale.”

Okay — I didn’t make it to Blue Lake.  Again!  But one day I will!  One day it won’t be a Fairy Tale blog entry to Blue Lake!  It will be a real life blog entry to Blue Lake!

Tequila

DO WE HERD A BUGLE?

Map Master and I had so much fun the week before (racing to Mills Lake), we decided to hike Rocky Mountain National Park again.

On Friday, September 26th we headed up the trail to Fern Lake.  Just one week later, the aspens were still an incredible golden color.

Fern1

Fern2

The Big Thompson River was roaring.

Fern3

At the trail split, we met up with some campers who told us that, although Fern Lake is beautiful, we would not see aspen trees along the trail.  They suggested, instead, that we hike the trail to Cub Lake.  Initially, the trail to Cub Lake was steep and muddy, but leveled out through some aspen groves.

Cub Lake is surrounded by thick timber and backs up to Stones Peak.  The surface of the lake was clear and ringed with yellow pond lily.

Fern9

Yellow pond lily floating in the shape of a LARGE Donut!  “Map Master — are you hungry?”

Amen!

Amen!

Beyond Cub Lake, we hiked through an extensive forest of pine, spruce, aspens and ferns.  About a half mile from the Cub Lake trailhead we arrived at Moraine Park — a vast meadow where large elk herds congregate for their annual rut (a spectacular ritual where dominant bulls battle for mating rights).  We were not disappointed.  We counted 16 elk in all — one bull (a stag), six cows (hinds), and nine calves.

Fern4

Fern6

Fern7

And then — the bull turned to the open space in the meadow (where another bull was trying to invade the herd) …..

Fern5

….. and he bugled.  I had never heard an elk bugle “in person.”  It was LOUD and beautiful!!!

Side Note:  You may or may not remember that in March of 2013, Map Master and I happened upon a herd with about 20 elk and we tried to join their herd.  As we got closer — they backed away.  We saw the bull, and had we continued forward, I’m sure he would have bugled us back.

We watched the herd for awhile (more bugling from the bull) before heading back down the trail.

Wow!  That was extraordinary!

We only managed 6.25 miles that day, but it was still a good workout.  So — um — did someone say Donuts?!?!?

donuts_and_excersize_funny_poster-rb6f5cac062e648bbbbc79221cbc9820b_xzbi6_8byvr_324

BEEP BEEP

(Read this blog in less than two minutes.  In other words — read it FAST!  Because that’s how our hike was on Friday, September 19th.)

Beep Beep

Beep Beep

Map Master and I headed to Rocky Mountain National Park to view the colors.

We had to be back in Broomfield by 3:00 p.m.

With construction and everyone else driving to RMNP to view the colors, it was a two hour drive each way.

It’s a race for time.

But we’re determined!

We arrive at RMNP only to be told that all parking lots are full, and we need to take the shuttle bus to our trailhead — adding another 30 minutes to our round trip commute.

It’s 10:45 a.m. when we finally hit the trail to Mills Lake.  We calculate that we have exactly three hours to hike six miles and stop for lunch.

Beep Beep

Beep Beep

In .85 miles, we arrive at Alberta Falls.  That first mile was crowded.  People were all over the place taking pictures.  It was like Flatirons Mall on Christmas Eve.

Alberta Falls and Map Master

Alberta Falls and Map Master

Glacier Gorge

Glacier Gorge

SAMSUNG

But enough!  Onward!

The trail led us through spruce, fir, golden aspen trees and then onto enormous slabs of granite.

Mills3

Mills4

Mills5

Mills6

Mills7

Mills8

We were running out of time, but Mills Lake was calling!

Beep Beep

Beep Beep

Finally! — there it is!

Mill9

Mills10

After a quick lunch, it was time to return.

There’s always time for a pic, however.

Mills12

Mills13

The last one mile was still crowded with picture-takers, but Map Master blazed through them!

Mills14

As we emerged from the trail — there was the shuttle bus.

“RUN MAP MASTER!!”

Beep Beep

Beep Beep

Thighs

As the doors closed and the bus was pulling away, we caught the bus driver’s attention and he stopped and let us in (saving us a 15 minute wait for the next bus).

But not for another 15 minutes!

But not for another 15 minutes!

Back in the car — if we hurried — we’d arrive in Broomfield on time!

Bear Scout:  “Why is everyone driving so slow?”
Map Master:  “You know Bear Scout, some people are here to actually ooh and ahh at the magnificent fall colors.”
Bear Scout:  “Well — that’s fine — but — Beep Beep!”

"What she said!"

“What she said!”

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.

Finch6

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!)

Betasso9

"Ta Da.  We did it!"

“Ta Da. We did it!”

Boys attract wildlife.

Betasso10

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!

Lookout6

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!).

BlueLake2

Jazzy poses next to Mitchell Creek.

BlueLake5

Jazzy and Mike pose at Mitchell Creek.

BlueLak6

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!

BlueLake8

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.”

Moose2

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.

Buchanan6

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