Day 197 – Colorado Springs Loop – Part 2

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Day 197 – Colorado Springs Loop, June 12, 2011

Since the trails weren’t stellar at Eleven Mile State Park,
we left early in the morning for Mueller State Park.  While the northern half of the park was
closed for two weeks for Elk calving season, the southern part of the park
offered a variety of trails.  Dogs weren’t
allowed on the trails because the area is known for its spectacular wildlife

I walked two trails before 10:30 in the morning and I saw a
red-winged blackbird and two butterflies.  I guess I wasn’t
early enough.  The first trail, School
Pond was just over a mile and a half and looped around School Pond.  The width of a narrow, one lane road, the
trail wound beneath tall evergreens and through a valley to the pond.  It provided lovely views of the distant
fourteen foot peaks.

The Outlook Ridge Trail was just over two and a half miles
and turned out to be quite similar to School Pond Trail.  It wound through aspen groves, afforded a few
lovely views, and looped around a pond.  Despite
the views, I think the fact that I felt like I was walking on a dirt road, and
I wasn’t near water caused me to just consider the hiking as fair.

After a morning at the park, I decided to spend the
afternoon climbing a fourteener.  It only
took an hour!  Ok, well VANilla climbed
the fourteener at about 20 mph.  Petey
and I went along for the ride to the summit of Pikes Peak.  I think I passed this road at least ten times
on my drives up to Estabrook, and yet I had never stopped.  The drive began at 7,750 and ascended to
14,110 feet over 19 miles.  We took the
mostly paved and partly dirt road from the Montane Zone, through the Subalpine
Zone, and finally into the Alpine Zone. 
Between VANilla and me, I wasn’t sure we were going to make it.  VANilla worked hard climbing a 6.7% average
grade for an hour while my hands began tightening on the wheel as we zig-zagged
up switch-backs without guardrails.  My
middle name on the way up should have been double yellow line hugger.  On the way down, it should have been cliff

According to the white board, the summit was a cool 36
degrees with a wind chill of 23 degrees.
That must have been the morning temperature as it didn’t feel that cold
to me, but the wind was whipping!  I had
trouble keeping my lens still while focusing on the white capped peaks, and I
nearly got blown over trying to snap a picture of my mutt.  Despite the wind, it was fun to be above the
treeline.  We piddled around a little to
give VANilla a rest so she could make it another hour back down.

I’m currently taking advantage of free wi-fi at the
Starbucks in Colorado Springs.  I’m
looking forward to getting to Denver to get my aircard problems worked out so
that I no longer have to rely on restaurants and libraries.  Perhaps I’ll catch part of the NBA Finals
tonight…GO MAVS!  ETB


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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

2 thoughts on “Day 197 – Colorado Springs Loop – Part 2

  1. The road to Pikes Peak obviously hasn’t changed since I went up in my childhood! That was s long time ago as you know! It was a scary trip but a great view!
    xo’s M

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