Monday, August 31, 2009

No Surrender (Part II)

So I have a request for pika pictures, eh? It is real difficult to get a good picture of those little critters. They are shy, they move a lot, and they blend with the rocks. One has to be lucky, good, and/or patient to get a good picture of a pika. I was just tired and happy on my La Plata Peak hike. So I don’t really have a good picture of a pika from this hike. The best picture I have of a pika during my time in Colorado is from a previous hike a few years ago. It is not that great, but it is the best I have so far. Click here for that post. However, I do have a picture from the La Plata Peak with a pika in it. Good luck at finding the pika though.

Look! There is a pika on the rock. Seriously, there is one.

I also have a video with a noisy pika. The picture quality is quite poor. I need one of those HD cameras that were used on Discovery Channel’s “Planet Earth”. Maybe I’ll get one for Christmas:)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

No Surrender

Yesterday, I climbed La Plata Peak. It is my first 14er of the year. It is Colorado’s 5th highest mountain at 14,336 feet. Round trip for the hike is nine miles. I camped out at Twin Peaks Campground, which about a 5-minute drive from the trailhead.
Here is a zoom view of La Plata Peak from Independence Pass. Taken the day before the hike.
The sky after sunset at my campsite.
I got an early start. I’m glad I did. The hike was steep all the way up. Above tree line I saw lots of pikas on the rocks. It was probably the most pikas I had seen on hike. They made a lot of noise.
Looking back on the trail after getting above tree line.
The summit is in sight, but it is further than it looks as well as steeper.
As I got further above tree line, I noticed a couple of hikers catching up to me. They were a German couple that I had passed early in the hike. Seeing them gaining ground on me helped keep me from surrendering to the altitude. They gave me the extra push I needed because La Plata was kicking my buttock. I’m not in as good as shape as I would like for hikes like this. I was able to hold them off. I was first to summit La Plata on the day. I probably stayed up top for over an hour. The weather was great. There were numerous 14ers visible from the top including a great view of Mt. Elbert.
Me on the summit
Ellingwood Ridge up front and Mt. Elbert in the back.
Looking back my hike.
A snowfield just off the summit.
The way down was long and hot. I was in the shade on the way up. I passed quite few people going up on my way down. I talked to one guy who was a trail maintainer for a section of A.T. north of Woody Gap in Georgia. I knew his trail well. I also passed a guy using a walkie-talkie. I saw a few marmots on the way down as well. Going down was just as tiring due the steep talus slopes, but I made. I don’t know if I’ll get to do another 14er this year, but I’m glad I got to do one


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Hole

I hiked Hells Hole Trail today. It is in the Mount Evans Wilderness. I am not quite sure what Hells Hole is. The trail ends at a boggy pond. I read that the trail ends at Hells Hole and that it is an expansive cirque. From what I saw, I wouldn't call it hellish. However, the next cirque over looks quite impressive and more deserving of the name Hells Hole, but the trail does not go there. The way it is labeled on the map suggests that the other cirque is Hells Hole, but Hells Hole Trail doesn't go there. Anyway, here are some pictures from my hike.

Is this Hells Hole or the cirque beyond the first ridge?

Looking north from a possible Hells Hole

Looking south into the cirque

This might actually be Hells Hole. It is an impressive cirque. The sun was always at a bad angle to get a good picture of it. The Hells Hole Trail does not go to it though.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Into The Wild

Hordes of people went into the wild of America’s National Parks System this weekend. It was a free-fee weekend for the national parks. I took advantage of it and went to Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday. The weather looked a little foreboding when I got to the park. A front was due later in the day. It looked like it might already be affecting the weather. So I decided to do a shorter hike than originally planned. I hiked to Cub Lake. The hike to Cub Lake was a little over two miles. It is an easy and beautiful hike. The weather was a lot better by time I got to the lake. So I hiked over to The Pool on the Big Thompson River and turned my hike into a loop hike. The rain held off until I got a few miles from home on the drive back.

The Big Thompson River at the Cub Lake Trailhead

Cub Lake

Looking back on Cub Lake

Sprague Mountain and Stones Peak

One of Carter's friends running above The Pool

Here's a video of some scenes from the hike

Monday, August 03, 2009

El Dorado

It was free State Park day in Colorado. Yes, I know state parks are free in North Carolina, but that is not the case in Colorado. So I took advantage of the free day and with to Eldorado Canyon State Park. I had never been there before. I hiked up the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail. The trail goes to the remains of the short-lived Crags Hotel. It opened in 1908 and burned down in 1912. From there I hike to a view of the Continental Divide. Then I hiked to the railroad tracks and waited an hour in order to see a train come out of a tunnel. Thankfully there was shade because it hot quick today. I got spoiled last week. The highs were in the upper 60’s and lower 70’s for most of last week.

Union Pacific train going through a tunnel

Crags Hotel Site


Backside of Boulder Mountain

Train coming out of the tunnel

Coal train on the way down to Denver

Above the entrance to the canyon from the Fowler Trail