November 8, 2010
Well, I’ve been trying out tennis lately and have been remiss about going to the mountains, especially with travel to sea level as of late. It’s amazing how quickly I got out of hiking/altitude shape, and I only went up to about 8,800 feet!
Today I joined a group at Golden Gate Canyon State Park located probably 25 miles west of Denver. I had only been to the park once before and hiked some trails on the western side. Today we aimed to hike Mountain Lion Trail, a 6.7 mile loop described as difficult in the park’s pamphlet on the eastern side.
After some confusion about where to meet, as many trailheads lead to Mountain Lion Trail, we finally turned into a cohesive group at the Nott Creek parking area, the most eastern side of the park, around 10:20 without our hike organizer. We soon set off to tackle the trail that loops through the only hunting area in park during hunting season…great! After having bullets whiz by me in September on the Colorado Trail, I wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about visiting a marked area for gunfire, though I suppose we had safety in numbers.
The weather forecast called for 65 degrees by noon and we warmed up quickly as we began our climb on an open path beneath a sunny sky. Soon we entered the trees and followed the creek along a path dusted with snow. As we continued climbing, the hikers spread out, thus we stopped to regroup. Breaking a sweat and then stopping in the shade and snow chilled us to the bone…the temperature was far from 65, especially with the wind!
We reached a trail intersection where we could continue on Mountain Lion or follow Burro Trail that passes by an offshoot to Windy Peak. A few members of the group wanted to climb Windy Peak, so we bailed on our original plan and turned left to follow Burrow Trail. At the junction for Windy Peak, the wind was whipping and that was at the base.
Being cold, I opted to skip Windy Peak and all but two guys followed my lead. We walked slightly further to a rock outcropping for a short lunch, but I didn’t stay long as I needed to warm up my toes! A few others were in agreement to get moving again. The trail led us downhill to a few different junctions where we connected to a service road to make it to the parking area. It was a nice hike. I would have liked to do the whole Mountain Lion Trail. By taking Burro Trail, we probably shaved off a mile or so as we finished up in less than 3 hours.
Congregated in the parking lot, we enjoyed the warm sun! I’m dreading this week of ten degree temperatures as frankly, it was a lovely day in Colorado and I felt frigid!! Regardless, it was good to out and enjoy the mountains. It’s been far too long. ETB