PSALM 104:34

May my meditation be pleasing to Him, for I rejoice in the Lord.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

7 Mile Hike

As readers of this blog have probably noticed, I haven't posted our adventures for the past couple of nights.  Allen had a cousin who passed away and we are on the way back to be with family and attend the funeral on Saturday.  Prayers are appreciated for the family.

On our way home, we stopped in Oklahoma City (No tornados in the forecast!) staying with my sister and brother.  Today is Ben's birthday so we are going to celebrate tonight. :)


I had started this post two nights ago and didn't finish it.  So, I will now.

I will begin with a story of our camping neighbor.  She was a 5 year old little girl.  The other day, while we were grilling hotdogs for lunch she started talking to us.  She wanted to know if we wanted to see her new pet, and proceeded to pull an 8 inch worm out of a small cooler.  Haha!  She loved that worm. While we enjoyed our hotdogs, she was playing princess in her small doll castle her grandmother had set out on the picnic table.  The worm was the princess and it was being slithered through windows and in and out doors.  It was hilarious.

The rest of the post will just be pictures of our last 7 mile hike.  3 1/2 miles up a mountain, and 3 1/2 miles back down.  I didn't think I was going to make the last mile up, but now, 2 days later, I'm still really glad we pushed it.










This was our reward at the top of the 3 1/2 miles.  A beautiful cirque lake, nestled in the mountain.


After we go home for a little while this weekend, we are planning to take our Jeep to Hot Springs, and no telling what other adventures will come this summer.  Stay tuned!




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It was going to be a lazy day



Today we decided to take it a little more laid back and be lazy. We woke up pretty late, ate cold pizza leftover from last night, and popped the trailer down because it was supposed to be stormy this afternoon.  By the time we got around and ready it was close to noon.  Down the road, is an aerial tramway that you can ride to the top of Prospect Mountain, some 1100 vertical feet.  We decided to get tickets and see what was at the top, maybe even take an easy hike back down the mountain after riding up.  It was pretty windy when we started and I was a little nervous at the height of the tram cars, and the fact that it has been in operation since 1955!  But signs assured us that at least 3 million people have been carried up and back down, so we climbed in and began our ascent.





The ride really wasn't too scary, and again the views were spectacular.  The picture of the valley includes our campsite.  We brought binoculars and could clearly see our little camper all popped down and nestled in its place away from the wind.


So, once we arrived at the top and took in the view, we discussed what to do next.  We decided it would be fun to hike back down the mountain and went to the little gift shop at the top to ask about a trail.  The lady selling popcorn and hotdogs informed us that there wasn't one, and that it would be very steep, but we might be able to climb down if we switched back and forth.

So... We did it!


And OH MY it was STEEP!!  


Actually, about 2/3 of the way down we did find a trail, but until that point we were picking our way down step by careful step.


So, things I learned climbing down a mountain without a hiking trail.

1.  Dead limbs, twigs, logs...are NOT good handholds.  You better find something alive.
2.  Rock does not slide nearly as much as the dirt/pine needle combination that covers a lot of the forest floor.
3.  Its really much safer to find an actual trail to climb down a mountain, but probably not as exciting.

Oh, did I mention we climbed down this non-trail in moccasins?  Yes, we both have hiking boots and hiking sandals, but we left those back in the truck.  We were taking it easy today, remember?  I have to say though, the moccasins did make me feel very Native American as we felt our way down.

We do have a few scrapes, I slid about a foot at one point and scraped my hand, I also have a scrape on my ankle from who knows what?  Allen has a small gash on the back of his leg from one of the dead logs that were no help whatsoever as handholds, but quite willing to bite you as you climbed over the top.  But, again, as with Deer Mountain, we DID it!! 

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After Prospect Mountain, we were hungry and drove to Loveland, CO for lunch.  The drive is about 40 minutes through Big Thompson Canyon which is worth it, in and of its self, because it's breathtaking, but in Loveland we also went FleaMarketing!!  Yay!  One of our favorite pastimes.  Allen bought a Native American pinch pot to show his students, and I got a dreamcatcher.  We spent the whole afternoon rummaging through shop after shop, then collapsed at Cracker Barrel for dinner.  

We're finally back in the camper after another long day.  In Loveland we stopped at Walmart for supplies, and got some keylime pie Greek yogurt.  Yum!  

No telling what adventures will come tomorrow, we leave Estes Wednesday morning and haven't even decided on our next destination.  But, I'll keep you updated!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Deer Mountain



Oh my goodness, what caused THAT grossness you may ask?
Another fun filled, crazy, tiring, day in the Rocky Mountain National Park of course!
Today, we hiked up Deer Mountain today.  Three miles up a moutain!  And three miles back down.  

Did I tell you I'm tired and sore?  
It was totally worth it though.  Beautiful scenery, plus we can brag that we DID it!  

This is at the bottom of the mountain.  Notice in this photo I do not look as hot and sweaty as the next few! ;)
So the way that you gain +1,083 feet of elevation in 3 miles is  a long series of switchback trails , all ascending, up the side of the mountain.  Its pretty rough and the dirt is pebbly, sandy, and small boulder laden.  That's what happened to our feet.  
This sign's a little hard to read on the blog, but it informed us that we only had to go 0.2 more miles to the summit!  But, I don't know what the elevation change between here and the summit was, but I almost quit and went back!  We had to stop at least 4 times on that last 0.2 miles.  The trail became a series of stairs with 2 foot tall steps you have to hall yourself over.
We were glad when we actually did finally make it to the top.  The elevation here was  10,013'  and although it wasn't even close to as high as we were yesterday, it still offered beautiful views.  It was also the first time we had been able to see the town of Estes Park from on top of a mountain.  We could even see our campsite!  On top of the mountain, we rested, ate another salami and avocado sandwich and watched more chipmunks.  
This marker was at the peak.  It says Bureau of Reclamation and 250.00 Dollars Fine For Distrubing This Marker.  

On the way back down the mountain we actually had to go back up a little ways, because we had gone through a little dip getting to the summit.  Going up on our way down was killer!  When we hit the point in the trail where all roads were pointed down I was so happy!  Allen got this picture because he wanted to remember the big grin on my face.  No more climbing the mountain!!  

This is back where we parked the truck and began our hike.  I'm pointing to approximately where we hiked.  It was a long long way.  But, even though I keep complaining, I'm really glad we did it!  Now we can say we hiked Deer Mountain!



After returning from our epic trek, we took showers to get the grime off our feet and took a nap.  And guess who stopped by to visit when we woke up?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Snow!

We went up on the mountains today.  There is a road from Estes Park through the Rocky Mountain National Park all the way to Grand Lake, on the other side.  It was closed yesterday because of wind and ice, but by 2:00PM today, they cleared it.  Up there, in the tundra, above the tree line there is snow.  More snow than I've ever seen in my life.  It was gorgeous.


video

The drive is 48 miles total, one way, and we drove from snow gate to snow gate.  That was maybe 38 miles one way.  We stopped at the snow gate on the West side of the mountains and turned around because we were afraid they might decide to close the pass again while we were on the wrong side.  If we got stuck over there, we would have had to make our way back around through Denver, an almost 4 hour detour!  So we cut off about the last 10 miles of the road and turned back to Estes.

On our way West, we stopped twice to hike in the tundra, above the tree line. The first hike was along an old Ute (Native American) pathway through the mountains.  A sign informed us that the trail had probably been there thousands of years.
Allen just starting on the trail.  You can see the very small people up on the peak.  We went MUCH further, all the way around that peak and the next one.  

I took a picture of the truck from the top of the first peak.  It is the red dot in the center of this picture.  

Holding the guidebook that recommended this trail.  Notice I have my hood up to protect my ears, suglasses for my eyes, and boots for my feet.  We were prepared!  Oh, and thanks to my sister Rachel for the use of her Columbia fleece and Allen's dad for his Free Country jacket without them, we would have frozen this week.  

We think this might have been used by the Ute on their travels through the mountain.

About halfway through this hike, we came to a snow fied.  It looks nice and packed and solid and flat.
Until you fall through up to your knees!!!  Allen did this on accident the first time, then I made him get back down in his tracks for a picture, then as he was struggling to get out and I was laughing hysterically at him, I fell through also.  We didn't get a picture of that.  ;)

We estimate that we walked about 3 miles to a peak and back.  There weren't many people on the trail at the beginning, and by the end, we were all alone, high up in the mountains.  It is incredibly quiet up there.  We really knew we were alone when we started looking for other hiker's footprints.  The trail is only a foot wide, so it would have been easy to see them, but there were none.  Remember, the pass had been closed, so we may have even been the first ones out that far on the trail this season! It took about 2 hours, and at the amount of oxygen that is available at that altitude, we were tired!  But the views were astounding.  I took a 360 degree stitch asist picture with my camera, so hopefully we can get that printed and show everyone when we get home.  We also took a few minutes and just rested at the peak, eating avacado and salami sandwiches and taking in the scene.

The other trail we hiked was much shorter, about 1 mile total, but the grade was steep and most of it was covered in slushy snow.  It was a workout!  But worth the beautiful views at the top.

On the way down our side of the mountains we stopped at a lookout and ate a snack.  A chipmunk came up asking for a bite, and it was so tame it actually put its front paws on my lap!  You're not supposed to feed the wild animals, but it was so hard not too, I mean, this guy really wasn't wild at all!  We didn't get a picture of him because we didn't want to scare him away, but he really was sweet.  


We are exhausted tonight!  But so happy!  Its not windy!  Hurrah!  We are hanging out in our camper, stomachs full of cheddar bratwurst and beans, listening to a neighboring camper's music.  Its perfect.  




Saturday, June 1, 2013

Another full day

The last post was about 20 minutes before we went to bed last night.  We were worried about the cold, but we were confident that the wind had died down.  Well, we were worried about the wrong problem.  Our preparation with the heater and the insulation under the bed kept the camper nice and toasty all night...but the wind was another story.  In a Colorado valley, you can hear the wind gusts coming way before they get to you.  It sounds like you're parked next to a hiway and semis are flying past.  You hear it coming and you brace, and then the camper shakes like its going to blow right over.  The wind wasn't bad all night, but it did wake us up several times.  Really, we were fairly comfortable and not that scared, just worried that the camper was going to get really torn up.  So, we were happy to see the forecast that the wind was not supposed to be bad tonight...

...until after all our adventures today.  We were pulling into our campsite, about the pop the camper up and start grilling when the radio announced that the wind gusts tonight were supposed to be 40 mph.  :< Right then and there we decided that we did not want to sleep another night in our "kite."  We went to the office and asked if we could upgrade to one of the cabins on site, we were going to pay the difference just for the night, because "the wind is GOING to die down tomorrow!"  But when we went in and explained our situation, they felt sorry for us and upgraded our reservation for free!!  So tonight, we are in this awesome cabin, safe from the wind and cold, with our own personal bathroom and even cable.  :)  God is good and provides for His children.  Tomorrow we are going to move back to the camper because it really is fun!  But tonight I'm happily sitting on a comfy couch while blogging.

So, today in pictures:

Breakfast this morning, bacon, eggs, coffee, and grapefruit juice.  Mmmmm!

These were shot at the Alluvial Fan in the Rocky Mountain National Park.  We climbed up the boulders almost to the top and enjoyed basking in the sun.


Elk crossing the road in front of our truck.

Such gorgeous scenery.


The next 3 pictures are from our hike around Bear Lake.  We drove up to the trail head and the ranger informed us that getting 2/3 of the way around the 3/4 mile loop wasn't too bad, but after that it would be "dicy."  This is what she meant:  A foot of packed snow on the trail!  We had to be careful not to slide into the lake!  It was really exciting and fun.

This is my foot, I was trying to show how deep this foot print was, but I wasnt terribly successful.  It was literally 2 feet deep.  I hope somebody didn't hurt themselves by making it!


So today was exciting and fun.  We are tired and again, and very glad for the generosity of the campground manager at Spruce Lake campground in Estes Park.  If you ever visit, stay here!  We don't have to battle the wind, and we are in this beautiful cabin.  Allen cooked us steak on the grill for dinner and said it was probably the most dangerous steak he'd ever cooked in his life.  Haha!  Its the wind!  Its so crazy.  We put the grill between two cabins so that it would be a little sheltered, but we were still worried.  In the end though, the steaks were amazing and he put the coals out with water after he was done so that we made sure not to catch anything on fire.  

Good night all!  Safe sleeping!  We are watching all of our friends and family in the path of storms and tornados and praying that you are safe.  More tomorrow.