BEAR ENCOUNTER #4

This is my tenth year of passionately hiking our beautiful Colorado Mountains.  In those ten years, we’ve been charged by a mother bear — been forced down the trail by a bear having lunch by a tree — and had two little bear cubs running parallel to our trail near Gregory Canyon.

Today I was hiking solo.  The last time I hiked the Kohler Mesa trail was September 2007.  Time to reacquaint myself.

The trail begins with a rather steep stair climb up a hill.  It levels off at the top and connects with the Mesa Trail.  The views were beautiful.

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At the .83 mile mark — Bear Scat!

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My head said, “Run Bear Scout!  Run back to the car!  Go home!  Make some hot chocolate and watch a movie!”  My Bear Scout head said, “Nah — it will be fine.  Keep hiking.”

Besides — bears don’t want to eat me.  They want to eat the berries on the numerous berry bushes I passed.

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Even I was tempted to grab a few.

 

I stopped to marvel as a Gibbifer Californicus was diligently pushing a clod of dirt up the trail.  It was hysterical.  He would travel about 2 inches, then the dirt clod would roll over him and he would begin again.  After numerous attempts, his buddy came to help.  And yup — the clod pushed them both down the trail.  I really wanted to help, but I wasn’t exactly sure of their destination.

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The dirt clod was three times his size.

I continued on the Mesa Trail, and took it all the way to NCAR; then turned around to complete my Friday hike.

I arrived at the intersection of Mesa Trail and Skunk Canyon Trail.  It looked inviting …..

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So down the trail I went.  I was about 10 minutes down the trail, rounding a slight bend when just 4 feet from my head coming from the bushes I heard a loud, grumbling sound.  Now — as my faithful blog followers know — I have a rather active imagination.  This was NOT my imagination.  I looked towards the bushes and saw either the hind end, or shoulder of a black bear.

Let me answer the questions running through your heads right now …..

  1. No, I don’t know if it was a male or female.
  2. No, I don’t know if there were cubs.
  3. My best guess — this bear was sleeping and I walked by disturbing him/her.
  4. No, I did not get a selfie!  (Although — what a great idea!)
  5. Yes — I am CERTAIN it was a black bear.
  6. Yes, I had my bear spray with me.
  7. No, I didn’t have to use it.
  8. No, my life did not pass before my eyes.
  9. No, I did not have to give up my PB&J sandwich (which I really didn’t want to share).
  10. Yes, I was beginning to question my sanity of going down a narrow remote trail solo.

What did I do?!?!?  I backed up the trail, but the bear did not move.  (I really do think I disturbed his/her afternoon nap.  And you know how you hate to be interrupted while napping!)  When I was about 10 feet away, I turned, and walked VERY fast up the trail.  When I was about 20 feet away, I ran like hell and got back to the Mesa Trail in record time.

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OK — no more diversions.  Back to the car!

Well — one more diversion.  Near the Kohler trailhead is a short path to Green Mountain Cemetery (where I was NOT going to end up this Friday).  A quick trip to the cemetery …..

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…..then back to the car.  On the way back what do I see?  More …..

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BEAR SCAT!!!!

I gotta get the heck outta here and make some hot chocolate and watch a movie!

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FINALLY!!!!!

After two attempts (both in 2014) to hike to Blue Lake in Indian Peaks Wilderness, I finally made it on Friday, July 22nd.  Mountain Mary, Precious Sam Survivor Man and I sailed past Mitchell Lake, hiked and climbed through rocks and creeks, and made it to Blue Lake.  It was definitely worth the wait!  Mountain Mary has proclaimed the hike to Blue Lake as her favorite hike of the summer.

It has all been documented in pictures below.  Enjoy!

A cool 62 degrees begins our hike …..

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Heading up the trail.

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Beautiful birds lovin’ the 11,000+ altitude.

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I had forgotten about having to cross these logs over the raging creek.

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I look hunched over because I WAS! I thought I could cross over better (and not fall) if I was closer to the logs. My preference would have been to CRAWL over them.

We saw two HUGE moose.  Here’s a picture of one of them.  Can you see him?  Yeah — me either — but trust me — he is there.  He’s the brown dot-like thing in the middle of this picture.

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He looked like this!

I don’t think Mountain Mary and Precious Sam Survivor Man believed me when I said there was still snow up there …..

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….. and flowers.

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We’re getting closer.

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And there it is — Blue Lake — complete with its’ own waterfall.

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Made it!!!!  Now — to hike back down and across those darn logs!

DON’T “BUG” ME!

On Friday, June 17th, Map Master, Mountain Mary, Precious Sam Survivor Man and I hiked the Burro and Mountain Lion trails at Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

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Precious Sam’s moniker should really be “Wilderness Whisperer.”  On our hikes he has caught (among other things) tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes, and grasshoppers.  Well — just about anything that he can catch.  But don’t worry — no critters are harmed, and all are released.

So when Precious Sam Survivor Man hikes with us, it’s certain that we’ll be seeing lots of bugs!  Etc.

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Shortly after hitting the trail, we did begin to see remnants of wild life.

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Um — that was not a catch and release!

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The Wilderness Whisperer attracts a Gibbifer Californicus

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A strolling caterpillar

We hiked through some dense lodgepole pines and about 1.5 miles in we arrived at Forgotten Valley and the Tallman Homesteaad — complete with two front porch swings and a view of a small lake.

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You can’t see the swings on the front porch — but they were extremely comfortable

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HISTORY LESSON:  In 1870 Anders Tallman emigrated from Sweden to the U.S.  In 1882, he constructed a frame ranch house by moving a one-room schoolhouse to the property and adding a kitchen.  The area was so remote it was referred to as Forgotten Valley.  Other additions to the schoolhouse were made later.  Tallman married, and they settled down to a ranching life at the cabin.

Tallman’s children all married other Swedes and eventually his granddaughter-in-law, Ruth, and her husband John Wickstrom, took over the ranch.  After John’s death in 1951 Ruth moved away.  The absentee owners neglected this remote property and in 1970 it became part of Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

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Meanwhile, Wilderness Whisperer was trolling the lake looking for salamanders.  Why?  Because he’s a boy?  I don’t know.

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Salamander

“Hey — I’m right behind you!”

Sad not to have found a salamander, he decides to take home a girlfriendmander.  Yeah — that’s stretching it, huh?  I couldn’t think of anything that rhymes with salamander.

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The Burro Trail was steep, but what goes “up” must eventually go “down.”  After steep climbs and intervals of mixed forest and open hillsides, we began a steep descent.  Whew!

We found a teepee left by the Native American Indians (or an ambitious camp group) …..

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“Hey Chuck — I think we found cheaper rent for Mountain Mary.”

After 6.62 miles, we arrived back at the trailhead — hot and dusty.

Looks like all those “bug” sightings and salamander searches just plum wore out Precious Sam Survivor Man a/k/a Wilderness Whisperer.

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Nite Nite Wilderness Whisperer! Sweet salamander dreams!

NEVER TRUST THE WEATHER MAN

The weather man lied.  He said it would be pouring rain Thursday night into Friday morning and let up Friday afternoon.  Ump!  So I slept in a bit Friday morning (as the sun was shining), and decided to skip the mountains and hike locally.  Ump!

'Once again, you were right only fifty percent of the time. Have you considered a career as a TV weatherman?'

 

Having wasted enough of the morning, I quickly downed some oatmeal, climbed into the Bear Scoutmobile, parked at the Coal Creek trailhead and headed east.  The M.O.M.s have never hiked the east end of the trail.

Someone constructed a swing over the creek.  Looks fun — but how the heck do you get on it without getting wet?!?

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The creek was running high.

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At one point, it overtook the trail.  A crew was trying to move the water and mud.

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A couple miles in, I reached the Erie intersection.

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The trail connection is fairly new.  A quick detour to the Overlook Trail showed the year the trails were started (1992) and the year of completion (2013).

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Thank you Trailblazers!

I chose to take the trail to Flagg Park.  Oh Yay — a park!  Maybe get in a little swinging (without getting wet), or a little sliding.  You know — a little “park” fun.

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Look how desolate!

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No way I’m using that outhouse — I might disappear and never be seen again!

“Let’s go to Flagg Park,” said no one ever!

I turned around and headed back to the Bear Scoutmobile.

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Most of the trail was lined with enormous weeds.  They were almost as tall as me!  Forget about the Zombies coming for you — worry about these Weeds!

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The crews had been working on that mud mess while I was hiking to Flagg Park.  They told me, “It’s OK to use the trail now.”

Seriously?!?!?  There’s still 6 inches of mud there.  I detoured to the street.

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It was a good trail to explore on this Friday afternoon.  Oh — and Mr. Weather Man — not a drop of water fell from the sky.

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THREE TRAILS IN 116 MINUTES

My hike last Friday was a short one (5.38 miles) as I had my PAMG responsibilities in the afternoon.  PAMG?  Professional Assistant to the Mother of the Groom.  PAMG, for short.  Map Master’s son was getting hitched on Saturday and today was the rehearsal dinner.

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I didn’t really have time to wander up into the mountains, so chose a few trails close to Broomfield.  So close — they were actually IN Broomfield.  And thank goodness I started early, because it was a HOT day!

Sometimes you head out on a trail just expecting to clock a few miles and return home.  But that sounded boring to me.  I thought maybe I could make this a tad more interesting by just paying attention to my surroundings.

Ready.  Set.  Hike!

I need Map Master’s Wildflower Guide to give you a name, but let’s just say there were lots of very bright yellow flowers near the side of the trail …..

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….. that turned into a field of bright yellow flowers.

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Wow! Right here in Broomfield!

In fact — there were several beautiful wildflowers along the trail …..

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Hey! How did those dandelions get in there?

….. including a field of baby’s breath.

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Don’t people pay big bucks to get these in their flower arrangements?

About half way into my hike, I passed by the Broomfield bridge that washed out with the flood of 2013.  My guess is they are never going to fix our little bridge.

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The Imel trail provided lots of interesting things.  First, an old farm hay rake.

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Something with HUGE wings flew right by me.  It turned out to be a Heron.

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Lying on the trail was a beautiful owl feather.  Everyone knows that finding feathers on the trail is good luck (I might have made this up).  Saturday I passed the feather on to Map Master’s son.

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And, finally, I saw a little mouse napping right in the middle of the trail.

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Shhhhhh — I’m dead!

Time was running out, so I turned around to get started on my PAMG duties.

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Map Master!  I was happy to help you, and honored to be your PAMG.  Of course — there are some perks for being a Professional Assistant!

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Oh yeah — I’ll definitely work for cupcakes!

THE ZOO AT BETASSO PRESERVE

My niece Courtney (a/k/a Mountain Mary) and her boyfriend Sam (a/k/a Precious) were visiting for the week.  I took them to the Betasso Preserve and when we were done — we had hiked 8.69 miles.  Wahaha

It was an absolutely gorgeous day!  We were able to hike in shorts and T-shirts.

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I’ve hiked Betasso many times, but on this day, the Betasso wildlife was all around to welcome us.  (I attribute this to my niece’s keen observation skills.)

We saw deer …..

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Hopping Abert squirrels …..

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A Gibbifer Californicus bug …..

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And one wild turkey …..

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We also saw the most beautiful moss …..

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A huge sinkhole (that Mountain Mary just HAD to explore) …..

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And an old car that rolled down the mountain many decades ago …..

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I would love to know the story behind this!

Lunch (compliments of Yours Truly) was consumed next to a beautiful stream …..

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As we left Betasso, Mountain Mary and Precious said (and I quote) — “We’re going home, taking a long shower, and a nap!”

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Guess I wore those youngsters out!  Youngsters droll and Aunties rule!  Wahaha

TRAILS, STREETS, SIDEWALKS and BUSY INTERSECTIONS

Here in Broomfield, we have enjoyed over a month of beautiful weather.  Several days in February we actually hit 70 degrees.  Last week my daffodils started blooming and the tulip leaves burst through the ground.  Ah — spring has sprung.

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And then winter crept in Thursday night bringing 8 inches of snow to Broomfield, and over a foot of snow to the foothills.  Not just any snow — Heavy Wet Snow!  Perfect snowman snow!

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“Sorry daffodils and tulips.”

Now what?  Map Master was working this Friday, so I was on my own.  I really didn’t think it was a good idea to head solo to the foothills and get stuck in the snow.  I decided to shovel our walks and driveway.  Done.  I then moved on to the neighbor’s walks and driveway.  Done.  I don’t mean to brag (which, of course, is what I’m doing), but I have shoveling down to an art.  If there was a snow shovel competition, I’d enter.

After shoveling, the sun came out and it was above 20 degrees, so I decided to hike around Broomfield.  It was turning out to be a beautiful day.

I hiked a few Broomfield trails …..

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I hiked beside a Broomfield stream that I didn’t even know existed …..

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I just kept walking the trails, the streets, the sidewalks, and crossing busy intersections.  It was nice to be outside.  While walking one of the streets, I came upon a senior citizen shoveling her walks.  “Please — allow me.  I am a snow shovel pro.” I said.  And in record time I finished shoveling her sidewalk.

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TA DA!

Maybe after the next snow storm, I should walk with my shovel and a cape!

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Bring it on!

I wasn’t able to hike the foothills, but managed to get in a good trek (and a little cardio) around Broomfield.

When I got home I checked my Facebook page.  You know how everyone posts pictures of their patios and homes buried in snow, and then there’s that friend in Florida that posts, “Oh that’s too bad.  It’s 80 degrees here.”  Don’t you just hate that?!?!?

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TWO JAPANESE WARRIOR DACHSHUNDS, ONE PIZZA GUY, and TWO LOST M.O.M.s

Before I begin — let me say this.  This summer will mark our tenth year of hiking.  We’ve hiked just about everything in Boulder County, and all surrounding counties.  We’ve even hiked the Almalfi Coast in Italy.

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Stairs on the Path of the Gods in Italy

I would say that makes us “seasoned hikers.”  Hikers that know their way around the mountain trails.  So what happened on Friday, March 11th?!?!?

Map Master and I got lost in O’Fallon Park near Morrison.  In our defense — two years ago, when we hiked near O’Fallon Park we met Ranger Martin.

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He told us to stay on the Jefferson County trails because (and I quote from my November 2013 blog entry) — “We have to rescue many people from the Denver County O’Fallon Park trails.  They are not well marked.”

I kinda.  Forgot.  That sage piece of advice.  So when I found a trail for me and Map Master to hike last Friday, I chose O’Fallon Park.  Because we’d never been on that trail.  Because I forgot what Ranger Martin told us.

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There was a map at the trailhead kiosk.  I snapped a picture of it.  As it turns out, it is probably the worst map in the history of our hiking.  In fact — I’ve Googled O’Fallon Park since, and there is a common theme in the chat rooms — the map at the trailhead is worthless.

Wherever the Trail Leads. . .

Map Master and I were doing quite well until after lunch.  As we headed back down the trail, something happened.  There were twists and turns, and places we didn’t recognize.

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After an hour of trying to reach our car we concluded — we were lost!

There was no one around.  We were wandering O’Fallon Park alone, and we had only a couple hours of daylight left.  (Well — OK — maybe 3 hours).

There are so many loops at O’Fallon.  And we were on ALL of them!

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We were sure we needed to follow the sun to the west to find the trailhead, and so — into the sun we hiked.

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And hiked and hiked!

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Several thoughts entered my mind:

  1.  Did I survive Ovarian Cancer last year only to perish in O’Fallon Park because of their map?Die
  2. Maybe we should have scattered a trail of Map Master’s M&M’s to lead us back to the car.
  3. I think Map Master and I will be OK.  We have a good food supply.  I still have chocolates, one full water bottle, and some mustard residue left on my sandwich container.  Map Master has M&M’s and two oranges.  Oh yeah — we’re good till morning.
  4. I need to find a stone and carve a message to my family in case I never see them again.Stone
  5. Will we be forced to use our CORSAR (Colorado Search and Rescue) cards?
  6. Wait!  Was that my life flashing before my eyes?  Nah.

Each intersection we reached just didn’t jive with the map I had photographed at the trailhead kiosk.

As we were on ONE of the THREE Meadow View Loop trails (Seriously — who gives trails the SAME name?) — there he was!  Was it a mirage? — or was that a young man walking two dachshunds?

Map Master said to this young man — “Excuse me.  Can you tell us where we are?”

I said to this young man — “WE’RE LOST!!!  WE NEED HELP!!!  I WILL PAY YOU TO GET US BACK TO OUR PARKING LOT!!!”  (Or something like that — why mince words!)

We were excited.  We had been saved.  We followed him down the trails — he was only one parking lot away from where we were parked.  Help had arrived in the way of one young pizza delivery guy (Tanner) and his two dachshunds.  (The dachshunds had Japanese warrior names that I can’t remember right now, but they all knew the way back to the parking lot.)

Tanner offered to drive us to our parking lot and we gladly accepted.  What Tanner didn’t know was that I wasn’t going to let more than 10 feet come between us until I saw my SUV!

I know that eventually we would have found the parking lot, but Tanner probably shaved a couple hours of hiking time off our (already) long hike.

That night I made spaghetti with a lemon sauce and ate enough to have sustained me and Map Master in O’Fallon Park for a couple days!

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While driving home, Map Master and I have decided we need to go back to O’Fallon Park and see where we went wrong.  (It’s a M.O.M. thing.)  This time, however, we will carry a large bag of M&M’s to scatter along the trail.

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Or — take a hike at O’Fallon Park!

MUD, MUDDY, MUDDIER, MUDIEST, MUDD-I-MESS

First of all — Holy Mother of M.O.M.s!  My last blog entry was August 3rd. What’s up with that ?!?!?  I hope my faithful blog followers are still out there.

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“Still nothing from Bear Scout and her blog”

 

Last Friday I was flying solo.  Map Master was in Sedona, Arizona for her fabulous shoe store’s (A Step Up) very first anniversary!  Congratulations!

Wandering Ju was in (of all places) Minnesota visiting family.

I really wanted to hike somewhere in the trees …..

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“Yeah — over there.”

 

….. but because of our Wednesday snow storm, many of the trails were closed — or worse — MUDDY!  I had to hike a lower trail (the Coalton Trail).  It looked like this …..

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….. until I reached the 1.5 mile mark and ran into this …..

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I thought maybe I could “fly” over the mud …..

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….. but turned around instead and hiked the Meadowlark Trail (an extension of the Coalton Trail).  It was a nice gravel trail that paralleled the front range (at least I could see the mountains).

At the 1.8 mile mark, I saw another hiker who told me if I hiked this entire loop I would clock about 16 miles.  Tempting as it was — NOT! — I decided to turn around and wait for my M.O.M.’s to return from Arizona and Minnesota when we could hike this together.

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Unfortunately, snow is in the forecast for this week also.  I may have to just dream about hiking those mountain trails.

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