The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

The High Sixties

Published Saturday, February 14th, 2015 in Colorado · « · »

It certainly hasn’t felt like February lately. We’ve had a generous stretch of mild weather and it feels more like spring than … what’s the word I’m looking for? Winter! Yes, that’s it. Not that I’m complaining or anything. If it weren’t for the fact that this vernal interlude might be indicative of a disturbing warming trend in our global clime, I’d celebrate it without restraint. As it is though, I must acknowledge that cooler temperatures would probably be more appropriate at this time of year. But then what do I know? I’m no expert on Colorado winters. This might be the norm.

To take full advantage of the weather, I decided to go on a hike at Hall Ranch. After setting out on the Bitterbrush Trail, I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one with the bright idea of celebrating this balmy Valentine’s Day by kicking up some red dirt. The place was teaming with happy hikers, mountain bikers, and people on horseback. It made for a terrific hike. It was as if everyone was drunk on elevated levels of Vitamin D. People paused to chat to one another and everyone shared the narrow trail generously.

Hall Ranch
I had to carefully time my snapshots so as to wait for the trail to clear, there were actually lots of people out and about today, unlike what these images might imply.

Bottlenecks formed at the tightest, rockiest turns, where mountain bikers had to try several times to grind their way up the rocky path. Hikers stood out of the way, waiting politely and looking out over the horizon. (I quickly learned it’s possible to accidentally unnerve a mountain biker by watching them attempt a difficult patch of single track. A hiker must always look distracted by the scenery or appear to fidget with their camera instead. This gives the cyclist the option of discretely walking the bike up the troublesome stretch without comprimising their grit.)

When I got to the high point on the trail, I stopped for a while to take in the view and to snack on a Powerbar. I could have continued on towards the Nelson Loop trail, but the sun was getting low in the sky. It was time to turn back. It might feel like spring for a few hours but the days are still short and a warm afternoon turns cool quickly as evening approaches. And for all I know, it could be snowing in an hour or two.

Hall Ranch
Another well-timed people-less picture. Don’t be fooled …
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