Today’s training hike took us to Waterton Canyon where we hiked 13 miles with full packs at the first segment of the Colorado Trail. It was a great day to hike with temperatures in the low 60’s, overcast skies and some windy moments.
At the 2 mile mark we encountered some mule deer and a younger bighorn ram. The bighorn sheep are Colorado’s state mammal. It is always really neat to see them in the wild. Waterton Canyon has quite a few bighorn sheep. Today, we saw approximately 15. This ram was chased off by the alpha ram, as he was still breeding his ewes.
Waterton Canyon offers some amazing views as hikers work their way up from the plains to Denver Water’s Strontia Springs Reservoir. The Denver Water recreation website describes the trail as follows: Waterton Canyon offers a 6.5 mile hike to Strontia Springs Dam. The Colorado Trail continues above the lake approximately 10 miles to the confluence of the North Fork of the South Platte and the South Platte River. The Colorado Trail continues to Durango. Waterton also connects to the Roxborough State Park trail system.
We took a break from hiking to watch a huge bighorn ram rounding up his ewes. Younger rams watched from the periphery. Too bad we missed the butting ritual. In the fall, the rams compete for ewes by having butting contests. They charge each other at speeds of more than 20 mph, their foreheads crashing with a crack that can be heard more than a mile away. These battles have been known to last as long as 24 hours.
Overall, we backpacked just over 13 miles. Mark carried a 24 pounds pack and Sandy carried 18 pounds. The trail gained 350 feet in elevation.