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Hiking Smelter Mountain

This was one of the most difficult hikes we’ve ever done.  Not because it was that far, or that high, but it was so steep and rocky.  It gained 1,000ft in one mile, all rocks and boulders. And in the full Colorado sun…. good thing we had lots of water with us.  It took us from the base of Smelter Mountain to the broadcast towers on the very top.

But we made it, and the effort was worth it, with spectacular views of Durango and the surrounding mountains.  The trip back down was anticlimactic, we just made sure of our foot placement and we got down no problems (well, maybe for 100 yards or so when we made a wrong turn).

Granted, we questioned our sanity several times on the way up (hey, we’re in our mid 70’s) but it was definitely worth the effort.

Hiking Engineer Mountain

Engineer Mountain is located about 50 miles north of Durango, is about 12,900ft high, and very popular with hikers.  There is a trail that leads through the forest to an open meadow right above the tree line, then to a viewpoint called Eagle Nest, and finally the mountain top itself.  Very few people attempt the top, as you pretty well need to go on all fours to get up the last steep part.

The parking lot is at 10,600 ft, the meadow about 2 1/2 miles in and about 11,400ft elevation, Eagles Nest another mile or so at about 11,800ft.  The peak is another 3/4 mile but goes up another 1,100ft!

It’s been almost 10 years since my quadruple bypass surgery.  We’ve hiked here before, and thought this would make a good test of my surgeons skills.  And, in fact, Romola and I had little trouble hiking — until we got within a half mile of the meadow.  It started to rain, and thunder was heard.  It never is a good idea to be on a mountain in thunderstorms so we headed back down.

So although we shorted our hike by a mile or so, it was very pleasant.  The wild flowers are blooming, with the columbine — Colorado’s state flower — well represented.

 

Our first hike of the year

March 20, 2017 Leave a comment

WE plan on a lot of hikes this summer, when we travel through Colorado, Utah, Oregon and Washington.  So we have been taking fairly long walks around the RV park most every day.  However, nothing like putting on the hiking boots, throwing on the backpack, and going through the woods.  Today was our first day!

WE drove up to Sam Houston National Forest, where there is a long trail called the Lone Star Hiking Trail.  It is some 100 miles long, so we cleverly decided just to walk 4 miles of it.  It was nice to have the boots back on and spend some time in the forest!

Ths trails skirts Lake Conroe, so we get to see some of the lake.  It is a bit early for flowers, but some of the early bloomers are starting to pop up.  We enjoy being in the woods!

Categories: hiking, Scenery Tags: ,

Capulin Volcano, NM

Every year, when we move from/to Colorado, we drive by Capulin Volcano, and every year we say “We should visit that thing!”.  Well, this year we did, and we’re glad we did.

Capulin is a cinder cone volcano, about 10,000 years old.  In a cinder cone, most of the lava escapes through cracks at the base of the volcano, not out of the top.  However, there is a lot of gasses and molten lava spewing into the air,  giving some unique features to the surrounding area.

The drive up is not for those with fear of heights, as there is no railing and a very deep drop off.  Once at the top, there is a mile long trail along the top.  A bit difficult as it is very steep but worth the effort.  Views are amazing!

 

Hike to Phoenix Park Waterfall

Although the Phoenix Park Waterfall is beautiful, it is not viewed often because it is so remote.  You either have to hike or use an ATV, and even an ATV can’t make it all the way.  The road is very rough with steep sections and 14 water crossings.  So we decided to hike in.  Hey, it’s only at 11,000 ft. altitude….

Admittedly, a rough hike but in beautiful surroundings.  And the falls were great, although probably a lot better earlier in the year with more water runoff.  So we hiked for some 6 miles with 1,300 ft.of vertical climbing.  Romola even managed to complete some of her least favorite hiking activities: crossing a creek on a log bridge.  This is what hiking is all about:  scenery, peacefulness, and no crowds.

 

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Today our adventure took us to the Great Sand Dunes, about 25 miles from where we are parked in Alamosa, Colorado. It was quite a spectacular trip, seeing all this sand in the middle of the valley, and surrounded by mountains. We had a nice hike, climbing high in the hills to get a spectacular views of the dunes.

The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, glaciers feeding the river and the vast lake that existed upon the valley melted, and the waters evaporated. Westerly winds picked up sand particles from the lake and river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily.

One of the many 14,000 ft high mountains along the way.

One of the many 14,000 ft high mountains along the way.

A view of the dunes with some of the mountains

A view of the dunes with some of the mountains

Here you can see one of the rivers that feed the dunes

Here you can see one of the rivers that feed the dunes

A little posing along the way

A little posing along the way

Looking back from the top of the Lookout hike

Looking back from the top of the Lookout hike

Many people cross the rive to hike in the dunes

Many people cross the river to hike in the dunes

Sauk Mountain hike

August 2, 2014 Leave a comment

The Sauk Mountain hike is recognized as one of the most scenic in the NorthWest. But you have to endure a rough ride to get to the trail head, followed by a strenuous climb. But this time of the year the wild flowers are in bloom, the mountains still have snow caps, and the scenery is just gorgeous.

The “road” to the trail head is gravel washboard with huge potholes. It is narrow, has big drop-offs, and many switchbacks. Fortunately, we didn’t meet much traffic either way. And when you see the trail itself you do a bit of a double take… so steep! But watch your footing… the trail is narrow and the way down long!

The hike isn’t terribly long at 4.2 miles, but it gains 1,200 feet in the first 2 miles. But it is doable (even for us old farts) and the views from the top as well as along the trail are spectacular. On the way up there is a closeup view of Mount Baker, and at the top Mount Rainer is visible. Visibility was somewhat reduced from the forest fires but still quite amazing.

Check the "road" on the GPS....

Check the “road” on the GPS….

Can you spot the trail, heading all the way to the top?

Can you spot the trail, heading all the way to the top?

A really cute out house

A really cute out house

View from the top

View from the top

From half way up.  See our car far below?

From half way up. See our car far below?

A view of Mt. Baker

A view of Mt. Baker

Wild flower

Wild flower

Wild thistle

Wild thistle

Wildflower

Wildflower

Some of the scenery along the trail

Some of the scenery along the trail

Heading back

Heading back

Snow!

Snow!

Romola at the top

Romola at the top

More snow

More snow

Sauk Lake

Sauk Lake

Looking north

Looking north

Looking south

Looking south