Friday, January 23, 2015

Richmond Pass Hike 8/7/2010

This hike is relatively easy, being only 4.8 miles roundtrip.  However, it does involve almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain.  The day that I chose for this hike was far from photogenic.  The sky was drab and gray all day.  But, fortunately, it was not a thunderstorm sky.  It was obvious that if it rained at all it would be the long steady type of rain without lightning.  Since the worst day hiking is better than the best day doing most anything my opinion.......I was going anyway.   Plus, there was an added benefit on this particular day that would make the hike all worthwhile; regardless of the weather.

The trailhead.

The trail quickly makes switchbacks up a fairly steep mountainside.  The sun just peaked through at sunrise for a nice view of the Red Mountains.

The Red Mountains were stunning in the early morning light.

The views up ahead were not too shabby either!  Note the elk grazing in the lower left.

Dew was clinging to the points of plant leaves - I couldn't resist a picture!

As I approached the pass, there was a greeting committee waiting for me.  They were amazingly curious.  But, as I got closer, they slowly moved into the large basin below.  I don't know why elk like to hang out above timberline.  I often see them at 12,000 - 13,000 feet.  It must be the view!

Yours truly enjoying the views from the pass.  THANK YOU LORD for this incredible beauty you've made....and for giving me the physical where-with-all to be able to hike to places like this!

After taking in the views for a bit, I then went higher up the mountain above the pass and sat down on a rock for a snack.  The elk were now a thousand feet below in the grassy basin.  I watched them for over and hour as they literally played non-stop.  They bucked, and kicked, chased each other, stomped in the water and just plain had a good time.  I saw little calves chasing bulls, with the bulls acting like a mountain lion was on their tail.  It was the most unusual wildlife display I've ever seen.  The shot below is after the playtime was over and they gradually moved out of the basin up the slopes to higher ground.  This is only a portion of the the whole herd scattered out along the mountainside.

This is a view from the pass back to the west toward Yankee Boy Basin - Mt. Sneffels (a fourteener) is the high peak in the distance.  You can see the Yankee Boy road in the valley below.

Well, it was getting to be mid-afternoon and the clouds were building.  It was time to grab a shot of the wildflowers and head down the trail.  Another great hike was in the books, and some memories that will last a lifetime.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Craig Crest Trail Hike with Grandsons 8/31/13

My grandsons have become my favorite hiking partners.  They spent the night at our house and we got up early and headed to Grand Mesa.  This was Dylan's (youngest) first real hike - we discussed that this was a test if he was ready for hiking with us.  Ryan & Garrett had hiked with me several times before.  This is a 10 mile hike with about 1500 feet of elevation gain.  It would be a true test for him - we all we're hoping he'd do well.

There are two trailheads in case you only want to do half the hike and not the full 10 mile loop.  We parked at the Eggleston Lake trail head.  From left to right - Ryan, Dylan, Garrett.

It started out as a beautiful day - we watched picas, marmots, and played with camp-robber birds.  This is about 3/4 mile up the trail just above Little Eggleston Lake.

Another shot of all of them on up the trail as we begin the rocks.  The trail is not technical at all, but does go through lots of rocks.

At the top of the elevation gain, the trail goes up a spine of rock with breathtaking drop-offs on both sides.

We all love the movie Jeremiah Johnson.  We had to take what they called the Jeremiah Johnson shots on the cliffs.

Overview of Butts Lake (yes, that's its real name).  Wow what a day......though things were about to change.

Snack spot overlooking Butts Lake - lots of crackers and peanut butter, string cheese, jerky, candy doesn't get any better.

But, as we were eating our snack I noticed a small pillar of a cloud off to the west.  The bottom of the cloud was almost at our elevation level.  This was not a good sign, as it was steadily growing.  (It reminded me of the story of Elijah on Mt. Carmel.  It hadn't rained for 3 years and he was praying for rain.  He sent is partner to look off the mountain several times - but no clouds.  Finally, one appeared that he described as the size of a man's hand.  Elijah said "it's going to pour - we'd better get off this mountain).  I told the boys that we might get wet before we got back to the car.  I explained that we could possibly hitch a ride back to the car from the trailhead at the end we were approaching.  In good-sport form they all agreed we should keep on going.

That cloud mushroomed and soon the sky opened up.  We donned our rain coats and tried to enjoy it as best as we could.  It rained on us for almost the entire 5 miles back to the car.  But, there was very little complaining.....we told stories and sang a song or two and made the best of it.

It was so much fun to see them enjoying themselves in God's great creation.  I do believe they have their grandpa's hiking genes!

On the way home they slept off and on.  When I thought they were all sawing logs, out of the blue Dylan spoke up and said, "grandpa, did I pass the test?"  I had no idea he still was thinking about that.  I said, "yes, you passed with flying colors!"  In fact you were like a rabbit up there - slow down and give me a break next time.  He's been hiking with us ever since.  He's been nicknamed Dylrabbit!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2013 Polaris RZR Ride 1/17/2015

In March 2014 we decided we wanted to switch to a side by side versus the usual ATV.  We've been ATV riding since 1983 and decided to "kick it up a notch".  Unfortunately, I did not do my homework as well as I should have and we ended up with a 2013 Yamaha Rhino.  The Rhino was a great vehicle - other than its size.  I did not realize that the Rhino was not considered an ATV by the Forest Service nor the BLM.  Only vehicles  less than 50" are considered ATV's.  So, unbeknownst to us, we were illegally riding it on ATV trails all last summer.  Fortunately, we didn't get a ticket.  So, when my "ignorance" was cured we decided to sell the Rhino and go for something smaller.  I had my eye on a 2013 Polaris Rzr 570 on Craigslist.  So, in November we put the Rhino up for sale.  That was the easy part.  It finally sold in late December to an outfitter on Glade Park.  So, I contacted the RZR owner to see if he still had it - and he did.  The rest is history.  We picked it up on 1/2/2015 and finally took it out for the initiation ride this past weekend.  I had to get the 2" wheel spacers off that the prior owner had installed.  I also installed a half windshield and 2" lift kit, as these RZR's are notoriously low.  So far, so good!

Here's the Rhino - now happy at a new home.

The RZR only had 160 miles on it.  So far we are really enjoying it.  The ride is much nicer than the Rhino.  Due to its size compared to the Rhino, it's like the difference between driving a sports car and a 2 ton truck.  There are a few Rhino things I miss, like the transmission and engine braking.....oh, and the locker.
Here are a few shots of our ride up on the rim of Roubideau Canyon.

Old Horsethief Hike May 23, 2014

This has been a very unusual late winter and spring.  My hiking territory had record snowfall this winter and it continues into the spring.  In fact it is still snowing in the northern San Juan Mountains on memorial weekend.  My hiking itch has really been giving me fits!  Finally I was able to escape from work for a day and "scratch the itch".  Rain was predicted so I did not get an early start and was indecisive about even going.  I had my eye on the mountains, which I can see from my home office window.  As the clouds lifted it was settled.  I hurriedly packed up and headed south toward Ouray.  I originally planned to hike the Twin Peaks trail. However, as I approached it looked to me like there was still quite a bit of snow in that trail area.  I looked across the Uncompahgre Valley and it looked much more favorable.  So, Old Horsethief was going to be the first real hike of the season.  The trail begins right beside Highway 550 just north of the main part of downtown Ouray, CO.

       The trail quickly rises on the switchbacks and soon the view of Ouray opens up.

The trail soon approaches what is known as the slide or washout area.  It's a totally different landscape that has the smell of sulfur and the trail hugs the mountain side with some cribbing to hold it in place.

  The cribbing

On further is a waterfall, than is sometimes just a trickle in the summer.

Unfortunately, due to rain, my hike was cut short and I did not make it to Bridge Of Heaven.  Oh well, it was great to get out anyway.  Parting shot across the valley toward White House Mountain.

Here comes the rain!