The Rockies: Burning Bear Trail and on to Estabrook

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I opted to hike the Burning Bear Trail today. There are so many trails in Colorado that I don’t really like doing repeaters, but I had never completed this trail, and it was flat so I knew it would be a good trail to begin my week in the mountains.

Previously when hiking this trail, after about 1.5 miles in, we detoured to a large rock out cropping where we found a geocache and leisurely enjoyed our lunch and view of the meadow below. I always felt like it was a long climb up to the rocks, but stopping to look from the trail, they weren’t too high up.

IMG_5493 geocache

Today, after I patiently waited on the construction taking place on Guanella pass road, I set out to hike to the remains of an old cabin and if I had time, perhaps across the saddle and down to another cabin.

The trail begins with a beautiful view of the Rockies before it crosses the creek and ducks into the lodge pole pine forest. I followed the path past the fallen trees as squirrels scampered around gathering pine cones and birds flitted from branch to branch.

The trail left the forest and continued through a wildflower covered meadow before it rejoined the shade of the evergreens once more. The pattern repeated itself until I reached the remains of a log cabin, just to the left of trail about three miles into the hike.

I thought I might stop and enjoy a small snack here, but situated next to the creek, the flies and mosquitoes were ferocious, and I had forgotten my bug spray. As long as I kept moving, however, they didn’t seem to bother me. I think I got most my bug bites in my car. Why is it that flies and mosquitoes can find their way into the smallest crack, but can’t seem to find their way out an open window? Back to the hike…

I figured I had about thirty more minutes to enjoy on the hike before I needed to turn around as my friends were joining me for a weekend at Estabrook later that afternoon, so I trudged forward a bit. The trail began switch backing up the mountain toward the saddle. I followed it a ways, the scenery didn’t change much, and I knew I wasn’t going to make it all the way to the second cabin, so I decided to turn around especially since I noticed my wrist felt cool and after inspection I found I lost my fitbit. I wasn’t even going to get credit for my climb!

I presumed my fitbit fell off near the cabin when I took off my pack to dig out my snack, so with my eyes scanning the smooth trail, I was pleased to find it just five feet from where I rested my pack against a tree.

As I descended down the trail, I stepped over the cow manure and started contemplating a rancher’s life and running cattle on forest land. Many times we’ve seen horse led tours on this trail. Having grown up riding horses, I’ve always found it fascinating that people actually want to pay to work on a dude ranch and clean stalls and move cattle for a vacation.

My mind continued to wander with my walk back to the car, until I noticed mountain lion scat, not once but twice, some very fresh. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was being tracked as I didn’t notice it on the trail as I hiked up. Perhaps I was too busy looking up at the squirrels in the trees? It didn’t matter as I ran into a group of ten hikers beginning the trail as I was finishing up.

It was a glorious sunny day. The breeze was just kicking in, and I got back to the cover of the front porch in time to relax and watch the afternoon storms roll in over the mountains. Soon after, all my guests arrived in the rain. The lightning struck so close it set off the car alarms. We enjoyed happy hour, dinner, LCR, and Yatzee. I was one lucky girl. Not only did I roll a Yatzee and do a Yatzee dance as required by Kristin, I filled out my whole Yatzee card…not one zero. I even got at least three of each number on the top to get my bonus and scored over 300…like a game of bowling. I’ve never had a perfect game like that. What a fun day! I’m looking forward to great weekend. ETB


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photographic note card, waterfall in Olympic National Park
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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.

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