Monthly Archives: March 2013

3 mile hike up into Staunton State Park

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Both Sandy and I volunteer our spare time at our local state park. It is about 10 minutes away from our house and we see its landmark rock formation, Lions Head, daily from our living room windows. Since my retirement I have also been fortunate enough to be employed at the park during the summer months as a seasonal park ranger. It is a great job with fantastic co-workers and 2013 will mark my 4th summer season at Staunton.

Not many folks have heard of Staunton, as it has been under development for many years. The original Staunton Ranch, comprised 1,720 acres which was donated to Colorado by Francis Staunton to be used as a state park to showcase its natural splendor. Since 1986 the state has completed fire mitigation, protected historic structures, studied its varied plant and animal life and acquired additional lands around the ranch increasing its overall size to 3,800 acres. Many people who have been lucky enough to observe the park have called it, “Colorado’s mini-Yosemite.” Waterfalls, unbelievable rock outcroppings, trout filled streams, ponds, abundant wildlife and fantastic vistas all await future park guests. The park will officially open to the public on May 18, 2013.

Today, I volunteered for several hours fixing some historic fence lines along the county road leading to the park’s entrance. After this project was completed I had the opportunity to hike one of the most picturesque trails in the park, called “Scout Line.”

Scout Line trail runs from Black Mountain Creek up the side of a mountain and provides beautiful overlooks to the south and west. One can see all the way south to Pikes Peak and west to snow capped Mt. Rosalie and Mt. Evans. My job on this hike was to scout out any hazard trees which I will remove prior to the opening of the park. The hike was made more difficult with the 1-2 foot snow drifts present.

While hiking the entire trail I noticed several locations with obvious mountain lion signs, including evidence of a recent kill and the dragging of an animal, likely a deer, through the snow. I also noticed bear tracks which is about right with their coming out of hibernation at this time every year.

After completing my survey I returned to the trailhead with 3.0 miles of hard hiking trail behind me.

Love Colorado and Staunton State Park!

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March 26, 2013 · 19:50

Hike up the Hanging Lake trail and through Glenwood Canyon

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On our last day in Glenwood we decided to try the hiking trail up to Hanging Lake. Hanging Lake is located in beautiful Glenwood Canyon and is a truly amazing place. The weather was in the high 40’s to low 50’s at the trailhead so we headed up the short yet steep trail. The total length of the trail is just 1.2 miles but it gains about 1,500 feet in elevation.

The beginning of the trail was mostly dry as we made our way through a fairly large boulder field. After about 1/8 of a mile of relatively easy, yet steep going, we entered into the shadows of the steep canyon walls. The trail quickly turned to snow packed and as we hiked higher it turned to sheer ice. We were able to climb and or slip and slide for about another 1/2 mile before the narrow trail, ice and deep snow banks triggered a decision point. After scouting up the trail a bit more and seeing at least another 1/8 mile of similar sheer ice conditions, we decided that discretion was the better part of valor and turned back down the trail.

On the way down both Sandy and I both increased our flexibility by doing the “splits”, several times. not by design, but caused by slipping and sliding downward. Both of us wished we had ice crampons or at least YakTrax affixed to our boots, but we made the best of every available rock and exposed root along the trail.

About half way down, we encountered a group of teenagers on their way up. All were not prepared for what awaited them. One of the young ladies wore ballet slippers. We gave them our trail condition report but it did not dissuade them from continuing. Further down the trail we encountered another couple who were stuck on a side hill while trying to avoid the icy trail. They were slowly working their way back down to the trail, again ill prepared for hiking in these conditions. Down a bit further was a young family toting their 2-3 year old uphill. Again, all kept forging forward despite the grim report we provided.

Once we made it to the bottom, we decided to hike the really nice bike trail along the Colorado River. The trail runs east from Glenwood for about 17 miles through one of the most beautiful rock canyons on earth.

We decided to come back to the bike path trail as we get closer to our Camino date to hike 15 miles, which would simulate our long days on the Camino. Hiking through Glenwood Canyon is absolutely beautiful and relatively easy.

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Glenwood Springs hike to Doc Holiday’s final resting place

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This past weekend Sandy and I took a mini-vacation to Glenwood Springs, CO where we relaxed in the world’s largest outdoor hot spring. We always have a great time in Glenwood and consider our frequent visits a real family tradition. This year we incorporated a couple of hikes into our visit.

First, we hiked from the historic Hotel Colorado up to the old city cemetery where Doc Holiday is buried. Doc came to Glenwood to try to “heal” his battle with TB. After a long illness, he died and was buried in Glenwood Springs.

The weather was partly cloudy in the mid 40’s as we hiked across the Colorado River and Interstate 70. We walked along the main highway toward Aspen up to the side street which cuts through the lovely residential neighborhood of early 1900’s private residences.

Once on the steep trail toward the cemetery we encountered lots of ice, slush and mud really testing our hiking boots and balance. Lots of slipping and sliding and muddy boots up to the top.

The cemetery was mostly dry and we spent a good amount of time looking at all of the old grave markers. It is amazing how many young children passed away and the words on their stones really hit you in your heart.

We found a sunny way down the hill with quite a bit less slippery spots and hiked back to the hotel along the peaceful residential streets. The total distance for the hike was 3.2 miles and is a must for history buffs who visit western Colorado.

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Trailer for a new documentary on the Camino

Here is a link to a documentary which is coming out soon re: the Camino. It looks really interesting. Sandy and I will be watching it for sure.

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Sandy’s boot of choice for the Camino

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After searching far and wide, Sandy may have finally found her hiking shoes for the Camino.

Today, after trying on several boots at our Denver REI store, she found these quality Zamberlan boots. She knew right away that these may be the comfortable hiking boots she as been searching for. So, we purchased them with the confidence that REI will take them back at any time should she decide they are not for her. Of course, like their famous Ferrari’s, Italians love the color red – even on their hiking boots! She said she never ever thought she’d purchase red boots, but after trying these on it was all about the comfort and quality workmanship.

Here is some additional information on the model boots we purchased:
http://www.zamberlanusa.com/catalog/index.php?lang=en&pg=prod&idprod=108&idcat=2

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Training hike and thoughts on the Camino

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Hiking with the sun at our backs

Sandy and I took a 5 mile training hike today. It was a beautiful sunny day which was so much better than yesterday’s 10 inch snowfall and blizzard. No complaints about the moisture though as we are struggling through another drought season here in the Rockies.

I really like the time which hiking provides for one to think.  While hiking today, many of my thoughts turned to our upcoming hike along the Camino de Santiago. I started wondering why the most popular route, the French way, begins at such a small town on the French side of the Pyrenees.  The French Way traditionally begins in Saint Jean Pied de Port, just across the Spanish border in France.  I mean, why didn’t it start at a more well traveled French city? Amazingly it came to me a mile or so down the trail that the Camino Frances starts at a village named Saint John and ends at Santiago de Compostela and the tomb of Saint James.  If nothing else symbolically bringing the 2 brothers, Apostles Saint John and Saint James together.

Who knows if this is the real reason.  But this is what I am going with unless educated otherwise. 

Buen Camino!

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4 mile training hike

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Today Sandy and I loaded up the packs to 20 lbs. and hiked along Denver’s front range hogback. 20 lbs. will be the maximum weight we carry along the Camino so this was a good test.

Suburban Jefferson County has acclaimed parks and trail network throughout the count and it is our goal to hike them all. Today’s hike was within South Valley Park which offers spectacular red rock formations and great trails, albeit a bit sloppy from our recent snows.

There was still quite a bit of snow and ice on the trail, so we slipped on our YakTrax and went for it. We hiked up to the top of the hogback and it was a bit sketchy in spots, but we made it nevertheless. It was neat to see all of the tracks left in the snow. We were able to identify raccoon, fox and coyote. This area is prime mountain lion habitat but unfortunately no sightings or signs today.

After slowly descending back to the main trail we hiked to the southern part of the park, then back to the trailhead. The attached photos do no justice to the beauty of the area.

Our Deuter packs distributed the load as advertised, so we are very pleased with our purchase. We will increase length of our hikes as we get closer to our trip.

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