Monday, June 15, 2015

Rolling Creek Backpack Overnight

Time to catch up! At least a bit. Note: all photos with date stamps in this post, credit Kelly Bitner.

I met Kelly Bitner on the Colorado Trail Thru-Hike 2015 FB page. We have done several practice hikes over the past 3-4 weeks.

Last week, we drove to Pike National Forest in search of Rolling Creek Trail near Bailey, CO with our packs, hiking boots, trekking poles and more. We've noticed we learn something new every time we go out. Hopefully, we will have learned enough by the time we embark on the real thing.

Click on any of the images to view them larger.

Got to the trailhead ... now our first overnight begins.

Kelly waiting for me to take my photo opp

Kelly over the first creek crossing

Since we got a late start we only hiked about a mile and a half until we set up camp. Set up tents, got our bear bag hung, ate some dinner, and prepared for the night's sleep which totally alluded me! I was lucky to get an unrestful 4 hours.

But before I attempted to sleep, this was the nighttime sky with the moon brightening the view.
Sunrise on the mountains
I was awake prior to 5am. OMG, so unlike me, but I figured since I couldn't sleep, I'd eat! So I made my oatmeal, did my morning duty, and prepared to pack up.

I had a terrible time sleeping. My bag was too tight. I felt like I was in a straight jacket. I was also cold at only 52º! I began to wonder how I was going to make in the mountains at 10,000 - 14,000 ft this summer. 

Finally, I strolled over to Kelly's tent and asked, "Are you awake?" She was. After taking our time to pack up, we were on our way for a dayhike with 30+ lbs on our backs.


Delightful little side streams were relatively prevalent.

Kelly with some cool rock formations
The views were awe-inspiring. The smell of pine wafted through the air. So refreshing.

The sunlight fell on the rock formations making them stand out like soldiers marching.

Rolling Creek beneath the fallen trees

This creek crossing took LOTS of concentration! It was very challenging for me. In fact, at one point Kelly, trying to be helpful, started giving me some guidance. Immediately I said, "Don't talk to me." That's all I could get out while I was still on those branches.

I was nervous as the branches were not stable. They wobbled and bounced under the weight of me and my pack. I could see the water rushing below me. I don't have the resilience I had when I was younger and my knees cause me low-grade pain most of the time, but I made it across without falling in!

Since we were walking beside the creek, which I have neglected to mention should have been named Roaring Creek, not Rolling Creek, we had these lovely views for quite a while. I particularly love the expanse of moss in this image. Looked so inviting.

Rolling Creek moving fast
These bridges were a piece of cake. Unfortunately, they weren't always available.

Quite an incline
We continued ... up, up, up.

Kelly took this of me to give some perspective

Lunch break and contemplation
Hunger called and it was definitely time for a break at this amazing falls and pool.

Creek crossing that stopped us
This creek crossing was extremely unstable with some slippery logs and mostly just rotten logs. Kelly and I both tested for our level of safety and security. Finally, we decided since we didn't have to cross it we wouldn't, but we had a great discussion about what we'd attempt if we came across something like this on The Colorado Trail.

I learned after our hike that this is a Calypso Orchid. It was so stunning!

This is where I lost battery power on my phone and of course had forgotten to bring the cord to connect my solar charger! Good thing to add to my list of "do not forgets."

So the following pictures Kelly shared with me. I'm glad I get to remember the rest of our trip through her images.

Due to all the rain we have had recently in Colorado, the new growth on the baby pine trees looked elfin in their light color in comparison to the main part of each tree. The tips of the branches seemed to glow.

Kelly had never seen a mushroom like this. At one time, I knew its name.

Taking a break next to the creek
We took a side trail called Windy Peak to a gate announcing private property. So we followed the fence down to the creek and enjoyed its song and the warmth of the sunshine. Of course, I didn't realize I had half the forest floor on my behind until after Kelly took this picture!

Along the way, I kept seeking animals in the trees stumps, so Kelly took a few pictures.

I see a deer head here. I saw a marmot earlier in the day. But unfortunately, they weren't real.

This one was though. This doe was gorgeous. She was a show stopper as she stared at me for minutes. I'm so glad Kelly saw her too and got this image.

Oh, about the sleeping bag ... I talked to the nice folks at REI and ended up getting a new sleeping bag (Big Agnes Roxy Ann). It only made sense since it's one of this most important pieces of gear!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tales from Kobi: Gem Lake

Yesterday Mom and I went on an adventure with her friend, Susan. Originally we were going to hike the Anne U. White Trail in North Boulder, Colorado. We got there and not only was there a "trail closed" sign, but there was a ranger to remind folks that the trail was closed. So I guess that meant we couldn't go hiking there. :-)

So Mom suggested we go hike Cub Lake, near Estes Park. Susan was game so off we went on an hour excursion. We decided to stop at the Visitor's Center and learned Cub Lake was in the Rocky Mountain National Forest and there would be a $20 fee. If we didn't want to do that we could go to Gem Lake. That trailhead was only a few minutes away and no fee. 3.6 miles/ 1090 ft elevation gain.

So here we are at the Lumpy Ridge trailhead that would take us to Gem Lake. Mom is practicing with her brand new Osprey Aura 65 AG pack with a 23 pound load including water. That's a good start since she'll be carrying more than that on The Colorado Trail. As you can see, it's another beautiful Colorado day, but I'm getting impatient. Let's get going already!

The view up ... where we're going is somewhere up there. It seems to be a popular trail. We saw quite a few people, but at least it didn't feel like a super highway.

Mom's first effort at a foot bridge with a pack on her back. She did great. That bridge was too arrow for me to navigate. I didn't like it. Notice I'm just plodding through the water. Ahh, cool on my little paw pads.

The smell of pine is heavenly high in the mountains with a little breeze. Nice.

And the views are stunning!

Look there, rock shelves that look like they will slide right off.

The climb was steep. Stair steps. Mom did great. She must be getting stronger.

We made it to the lake. There were folks sitting on rocks enjoying the sunshine, having a snack. There were others climbing that rock wall on the other side of lake.

Mom taking a picture of Susan,

who taking a picture of these crazy people climbing the rock face without ropes or any protection.

We went around the lake a bit to stop for a sit. Mom and Susan snacked on plums. Suddenly the wind blew sand at us which made it less pleasant than we would have liked, so we didn't stay long before heading back down the mountain.

While Mom and Susan snacked a man came through and told us dogs were not allowed here (mind you he was about the 5th person to do so), that when we go down I should be put in Mom's pack so rangers don't see me. He proceeded to suggest that maybe Mom didn't speak English ... but what she was doing was illegal! Geez.

Susan and Mom had fun with that on the way down, calling him Mr. Obnoxious. Coming up with all kinds of retorts like, Sprechen si Deutch? Parlez vous francais? No hable Englais. At least we turned it around and had a bit of fun.

By the way, Mom never takes me on "no dogs" trails, but it seems she and Susan were too busy talking to notice the signs!!

This land is full of beauty at every turn.

And interesting rock formations.

There are Mom and Susan doing the double selfie thing. Gotta get a picture together and I sure can't take it for them. I can't figure out how to hold the camera. Haha.

On the way home after a great hike there were about a half dozen elk beside the road. Mom had to stop and get some pictures. Of course. So there we were stopped in the middle of the road.

Then Mr. Elk just sauntered in front of us. What a sight!

Tales from Kobi: Skunk Creek Trail

Monday, 3/23/15 ... catching up

We're out hiking more challenging trails now and Mom's having trouble keeping up with letting you all know about these beautiful places. So we're starting with Skunk Creek Trail about a week ago.

This trail is easily accessible and follows a dirt road to the trailhead. It was a great day. Sunny. Blue skies. Puffy clouds. Mom wore her old boots since my new ones broke and she was waiting for the replacement pair. She was reminded what a properly sized boot can do for you. :-)

A bit hard to see here, but in the above photo a trail runs horizontally about center and there are a few people trekking there. This ridge almost looks like a dinosaur's hump.

On the rock in the foreground there is some beautiful lime-green lichen. We are just trekking along. Not too many folks since it's mid-afternoon. Another of Mom's late starts. That's going to have to change when she's on The Colorado Trail! Unfortunately, I won't be going on that trip. She says she needs to focus and will have enough trouble looking after herself, let alone me!

Looking back toward Boulder at a switchback.

Hey, there's me! I got my leash caught in that little bridge there. It took Mom a few minutes to get me unstuck. I guess I can be a little trouble, but I just love hiking with her.

Waiting for her. I do like to run ahead sometimes.

We're standing at the switchback ... the trail on the lest goes back from where we came ... the one on the right continues on Skunk Creek Trail.

This is where Skunk Creek Trail meets Mesa Trail. It's kinda funny how on way is a dirt path and the other is flagstone. We wondered if that was rebuilding after the flood of 2013.

Looking over Boulder again.

Now we're on our way back down. It was a quick trip. Just under 2 hours, 3.27 miles, 748 ft elevation gain.