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

Colorado

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Chasm Lake: A Second Attempt
I wake at 3:45 AM and make final preparations for a hike to Chasm Lake. I toss my gear in the car and set off. At this time of the morning, the drive is easy, enchanting even. The roads are empty, the sky clear, the stars bright, the landscape dark and vast.
A Change of Seasons
I love something about every day I spend in the mountains, but the early days of autumn hold a special place in my heart. At this time of year, the scorching heat of summer begins its retreat.
The Loch
I wake at four am to a chirping duet of alarm clocks. For a moment, I contemplate how wonderful it would be to shut them both off, roll over, and go back to sleep. But then I recall my plan to hike to The Loch today, and the prospect of visiting a picturesque alpine lake coaxes me out of bed.
Lake Irene
It’s two weeks since I last ventured into the mountains and I wonder if I’m getting lazy. To combat a growing sense of stagnation, I resolve to find a new high-country destination to explore this weekend.
Spring Training
I’m running again. That’s something that I haven’t admitted to myself it until recently because although I’ve been making a sustained effort to run regularly for a while now, I haven’t been convinced that I would stick with it.
Walker Ranch
This weekend I made a short, exploratory visit to Walker Ranch, a Boulder County Park that lies amongst the Flatirons along Flagstaff Road. I’m hoping to return in the coming weeks to hike the Walker Ranch Loop Trail.
January Busy Work
January always seems to be one of the busiest months of the year for me. On the job front, I usually receive a flood of new projects and responsibilities that need my immediate attention and require many hours of overtime.
Autumn Hues
As the seasons change, the landscape is redrawn in a whole new palette of colors. In recent years, I have been too busy to enjoy this beautiful transition, but that’s about to change.
Snow At Elevation
It snowed in the high country last night so today I cleared my schedule and drove up into the mountains to get a closer look at this season’s first snow.
Altitudinal Attitude Adjustment
On a hike from Bear Lake to Emerald Lake, I discover that adjusting my attitude is the best way to deal with high altitudes. Because if you mope about being a bit breathless in thin air, you’re probably overlooking the spectacular views.
Boulder Fall Fest
Today I went to the Boulder Fall Fest, an annual street festival that features a mix of local foods, microbrews, music, and art. The was an assortment of sculptors, jewelry makers, fiber artists, photographers, and painters.
The Last Few Days of Summer
The beginning of autumn is just a few days away and there are signs of the new season everywhere. Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch is already gearing-up for Halloween and it’s barely the Ides of September.
Smoke Season
About ten days ago, a shift in the jet stream delivered a thick layer of smoke to the Front Range, cutting the visibility (which normally exceeds 35 miles) to less than 10 miles at times.
Horseshoe Park Overlook
Today I made a quick trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park to renew my annual pass and to drive around the park for an hour before heading back home to catch up on laundry and cleaning.
Balanced Rock, Lumpy Ridge
First, a bit of local wildlife news. One night last week, a bear broke into the Colorado Cherry Company pie shop — a popular eatery in the quiet mountain community of Pinewood Springs.
An Explosion of Wildflowers
The 4th of July weekend caught me by surprise. Where the hell did June go? A whole month—gone in the blink of an eye. And one of my favorite months of the year, no less! This is not excellent.
A New Pixel Catcher
Over the past several months, I’ve been struggling with the little Canon Powershot S100 compact camera that I take on my hikes, as there are repeated signs that its sensor is failing.
The Gathering Storm
Today I went for a quick lap around the Eagle Wind Trail at Rabbit Mountain. At the beginning of my hike, I noticed the storm clouds building over Boulder but thought little of it.
Roxborough State Park
For some time now, I’ve been wanting to explore some of Colorado’s state parks. Finally, today, we visited our first: Roxborough State Park, a 4,000 acre park that lies just southwest of Denver.
Lumpy Ridge
This past weekend Phil and I went up to Estes Park to hike the Gem Lake Trail. For most of the hike, it was sunny and mild but as we approached Gem Lake the clouds took over and the temperature dropped.
Finding Winter
This past week, a large, slow-moving storm system passed through the Front Range. At lower elevations it started out as snow, but the temperatures warmed and the snow gave way to copious amounts of rain.
Nighthawk Trail
Near the Hall Ranch trailhead, you have the choice of either following the Bitterbrush Trail or the Nighthawk Trail. In the past, I’ve hiked the Bitterbrush Trail many times but I’ve only followed the Nighthawk Trail once, for a short distance.
Lichen Loop
Today I made a quick exploratory visit to Heil Valley Ranch. This was my first visit to this park and I was pleased to find that it is yet another nearby area that offers plenty of beautiful landscape, interesting geology, and many miles of trails.
Better Pictures
I’ve been trying to get back in shape recently in prepartion for some higher-elevation hikes that I’m hoping to tackle this summer. I feel like I have a lot of work to do just to restore my fitness to what it was last fall. My legs are stiff and weak after a long winter.
The High Sixties
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.
Sunshine and Snow
Last week, Phil and I went for a hike in the Lumpy Ridge area. This was our first hike of the New Year and the first time this winter that we ventured out onto proper trails that were covered in snow, even if it was just an inch or two.
Bitterbrush Trail
Today I wanted to go on a hike but since I didn’t have a lot of free time, I had to stay close to home. I decided to go to Hall Ranch, a park that lies just a mile outside of Lyons, Colorado.
Flattop Mountain
When I discovered that Saturday’s forecast was expected to remain clear and mild, I decide to make the most of it and to hike the Flattop Mountain Trail.
Rabbit Mountain
Rabbit Mountain has become my default hiking location. If I don’t have time to drive up into the mountains, then I go to the foothills to Rabbit Mountain where I can still get a leg-burner of a hike in a short period of time.
Bear Lake Corridor
The weather forecaset was perfect today so I just had to take the day off. I’ve not been to Bear Lake in a while so I thought I’d hike the trails in that area today.
Peacock Pool
OK, so this is a good one. I had intended to call this post Chasm Lake but I must keep myself honest and call it instead Peacock Pool because at no point during my hike today did I ever actually make it to Chasm Lake.
Lily Lake Summer Edition
The last time I wrote about Lily Lake was in early May of 2013. At that time, a sprinkling of snow covered the surrounding landscape and the air was as icy and it was thin.
Calypso Cascades
My gear selection and backpack loading is improving with each little adventure I embark upon. This weekend I discovered that, in some ways, I’ve become rather efficient at packing for a hike.
Tundra Trails
On Sunday morning, I decided to drive up into the mountains not because the weather was good but because the weather was gloomy. My reasoning was that any day in the mountains is a beautiful day.
South Saint Vrain Canyon
On my recent trips up to Rocky Mountain National Park, I’ve opted to take a route that follows Colorado Highway 7, also known as the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway.
Niwot Loop Trail
I found the Niwot Look Trail by accident. Last week, I was driving along Mineral Road on my way to Boulder and the evening light was so beautiful that I pulled off on side road so I could stop and take a picture.
Season Pass
Today Phil and I drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park for our first visit since moving here. Since the park pass we purchased over a year ago had expired, it was time to purchase a new season pass.
Breaking Silence and Style
It’s been a while since I last wrote here and during the silence, much has happened. I’ll try to bring this little blog up to speed in good time but for now I’ll summarize: I am now writing to you from the fine state of Colorado.
Lily Lake
Today’s forecast was chock-full of snow flurries and grim temperatures which meant that many hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park were likely to be treacherous.
Mesa Laboratory
We escaped the cold winds in Estes Park today by descending two thousand feet to Boulder where the sun was strong and temperatures were in the seventies.
Gem Lake
Since today was only our second full day in Estes Park and we were still exhausted from our busy schedules leading up to this vacation, we set low expectations for ourselves.
Sprague Lake
A few months ago, I was browsing a vacation rental website and discovered a cozy looking property in downtown Estes Park. On a whim, I clicked a few buttons, made a quick phone call and booked a ten-day holiday in the Rockies.
Boulder to Santa Fe
I’m not quite sure where to start with all this, but I guess Boulder is as good a place as any. Or maybe it would be better for me to summarize how we got to Boulder.
Many Parks Curve
During the winter, Many Parks Curve is the end of the line for anyone driving eastward through Rocky Mountain National Park along Trailridge Road.