Monday, January 19, 2015

The Missing Link

Start of the trail
The other day I posted and said how 'blah' my hike was on Section 3 of the Colorado Trail.  Today, I discovered what the missing ingredient was; PEOPLE!

I decided today to spend some time back on Section 1 of the Colorado Trail through Waterton Canyon so I could catch the 1.1 miles of trail that I missed every time I've done it. It was a beautiful day so that should have been clue number 1 that the trail was going to be busy!  Hikers, bikers, fisherman, and lots of Denver Water trucks really took the peacefulness out of hiking.  However, those same things made for an entertaining day!

Sheep running along the road
My first encounter was with a couple who were obviously geocaching (he was down below the edge of a bridge with GPS in hand and she was leaning over the edge of the bridge searching all over for something).   I stopped and talked to them for a few minutes to discover the couple had been caching since 2006 and love everything about it (just like we do).  As I was getting ready to head down the trail, she mentioned to me that there was a bighorn sheep on the left side of the trail and he seemed to be a bit 'grumpy' so I should be careful. About 1 mile down the trail, I see said sheep walking along the middle of the road so I hung back so as not to disturb his hike through the canyon.  It was really quite majestic.  He would stop and turn around and look at me as if to say "thank you for leaving me be."  About 10 minutes into this walk with the bighorn, a biker comes flying by me.  I warn him about the sheep but he either didn't hear me or didn't care.  He barrels on down the road causing the poor sheep into running instead of meandering.  The two disappear around a corner and I figure my adventure is over.  However, I round the corner and there in the middle of the road is the sheep.  It's like he waited for me.  He began to climb up the canyon wall and stopped every so often so I could take his photo.  Honestly, it was amazing!  After a few moments, I allowed him to carry on with his day and I with mine. 

He just kept posing
Trail switchback
I reached the end of the canyon and headed up the hill toward my final destination; Lenny's Rest on the Colorado Trail. Mind you, Waterton Canyon is a road and it is a VERY gradual incline.  Once you hit the Colorado Trail though, you begin a quick elevation gain.  The entire thing reminded me of coming out of the Grand Canyon; almost like you pigtail over the trail at points so you are climbing but you don't really feel like you are getting anywhere.  Don't get me wrong; the hike is breathtaking.  Just wears a girl out after 7 miles of just hiking full backpack gear. I reached Lenny's Rest and was all alone as I enjoyed lunch and a nice rest.  However, with snow in the forecast tonight, I figured I better get headed home.  This is where things started to get quite entertaining...

As I was coming off of the Colorado Trail back onto the Waterton Canyon trail, a young guy in shorts and a t-shirt pushing a stroller flagged me down and asked how he could get to the lake.  Folks, at the end of Waterton Canyon is a huge dam that holds back Strontia Springs.  As you enter the canyon and pretty much every 1/2 mile, there are signs stating that the lake is closed to public use.  So when I told the kid there is no way tot he lake, let's just say that he was a little less than happy that he had climbed all the way up to where he had and couldn't get to the lake.  I would have liked to have felt bad for him but's your sign...I leave him and the kid to figure out how to ice skate back down the hill and I carry on.  When I reached the flat part of the trail again, I stopped to take off a layer and remove my traction.  I guess I must have been wearing an invisible information sign because I had a couple stop and ask me how far back the trail goes.  When I told them they could take it to Durango if they wanted, that sparked quite the conversation on how they could bike it and get over the mountains get the idea.  When they left, another guy came to me and asked me where the hot springs were.  I will tell you that my sarcastic mind came up with several witty responses immediately.  However, the guy was slightly creepy so I just told him that the 'springs' is actually the private lake and that it was a bummer that there weren't hot springs right there because I sure could use them!  I decided I better start hiking again before someone else decided to use me as an information board.

Mirror on the corner
As I continued down the trail, I ran into a young couple hiking who asked if I had seen a guy with a stroller pass me.  I told them yes and that he was probably about a mile ahead of them, they started jogging to catch up to him.  I didn't think anything more of it and carried on my way.  I stopped at a nice picnic spot for a snack when the 'kids' as I like to call them caught back up to me and stopped as well.  One of my favorite things about hiking is the silence that goes along with it.  These kids were anything but silent.  The one pushing the stroller was wearing head phones and I will tell you he was listening to something along the lines of 50 Cent.  The other two just kept on talking.  I decided to go ahead and leave my perch and hike on so that I could avoid the bustle.  Barely 100 yards away, I hear the kids and the stroller come barreling up behind me.  The one who SHOULD have been in the stroller was being carried while the others were taking turns pushing each other and enjoying a bit of the Colorado 'wacky' weed.  That was when I decided I would take an extended break right where I was and wait until they were well on their way to the car...

The entire group
With them out of my ear shot, I could once again enjoy the peacefulness of the hike.  Occasionally a runner or a bike would pass me but we would nod and carry on our way.  Near the end of the hike, I was treated to a herd (?) of bighorn sheep.  So as not to disturb them, I took my time going by and snapping photos; up until daddy bighorn got a little anxious and started to come down the hill toward me.  I decided I was done and would leave them be.  However, I heard runners footsteps behind me so I turned to warn them when the daddy bighorn came barreling down the hill.  I really think this girl could have won the Olympic gold medal in sprinting! Luckily no one was hurt but a word to the wise; watch those bighorn sheep!

Daddy was a bit annoyed
I arrive at the car and decide that I am going to treat myself after my 18-mile hike with a malt.  I was on the phone with Mike when we decided that neither of us felt like cooking so I ran to Subway to grab sandwiches and make it easy on us.  In line right in front of me were the toking kids I was trying to get away from...  *SMH*

Shy Bird
Pair of ducks
 It was a great hike though and I am excited to hit another portion of Section 3 now that I am done with 1 and 2.  However, I think I had enough adventure to last at least a week!


Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Piece of the Colorado Trail

I haven't blogged in so much has happened since the last post so just know that life has been hectic and crazy and it hasn't slowed down. 

Enough of that!  Let's get on with what I really wanted to post about!

Sign along the Colorado Trail
Great tracks to follow!
Beautiful day in Colorado so no way I was staying inside!!  Don't mind hiking alone but always want to be sure that someone knows where I am so that should the need arise, they have a search radius.  I did all of the research and decided to hit a little more of Section 3 of the trail.  It has been so nice the past few days that I really didn't think I would need much more than my spikes...and for the first 3 miles, the spikes were almost perfect.  Luckily, a snowshoer had hit the trail some time since the last snow fall and had blazed a trail.  Otherwise, I think I really would have wanted snowshoes on this one!  Section 3 of the Colorado trail (the section between Highway 126 and Wellington Lake) is fairly flat and just a TON of trees so not much for views.  It is a great mountain bike trail but I wouldn't recommend it in the snow!  The nice thing about today is that I was the sole person on the trail so it was truly peaceful! 

Lunch spot
Buffalo Creek Trail head
 I always try when I am hiking to find a beautiful lunch spot with an amazing view.  Unfortunately for me, I got way too hungry long before the views started to show themselves so I just picked a spot and enjoyed a bite to eat.  Funny thing is, if I would have gone about 1/2 mile farther down the trail, I would have had the most breathtaking view on this section of the trail.  Oh well...better to stop and eat when hungry rather than trying to find the perfect spot, right?
Colorado Trail Sign
To be honest, this has to be one of the most uneventful hikes I have ever been on.  I made it back to the road and crossed over to continue on the trail.  However, the snowshoe tracks went right when the trail went left.  Not one track was to be seen on the path ahead and I don't like to trail blaze unless I have my snowshoes with me and I'm ready for whatever might appear.  So I turned around and followed the tracks back to the Buffalo Creek Road trail through the Hayman Burn area (2002).  The most exciting thing at that point was the three Golden Retrievers that met me along the trail, said hi, and then ran back to their owner.  I have high hopes that my next adventure in the mountains will be a little more exciting.  But hey, at least you get some cool photos to look at!
The last photo on my camera before I got back to the car...