Roadtrip to the Rockies: Estabrook

Another fall, another weekend at Estabrook!  I have some regulars joining me now which is nice.  I also added a few newbies who loved learning the 100 year history of the family ranch.

The weather wasn’t nearly as nice as last year, but it didn’t stop us from getting in a  five or six mile hike around the property.  I was actually feeling rather unenergetic and like having an excuse of cold weather and threatening rain to sit around and play card games and Settlers of Catan.  I must give credit to Erin, who has been on a mission to climb a fourteener this year, as she wanted to do a training hike.

I’m so glad she wanted to walk around as the weather held off, and we got to enjoy the fall colors.  We also managed to spot a few deer which was surprising given our noisy chatter.  I will attribute that to Brad’s eagle, hunting eye.

I’m so glad new parents Moria and Mario made the trek up with six month old Alinea.  I imagine it’s a lot of work to bring a baby to the mountains…one bag for them, ten for the baby, right?!?  Alinea is such a great baby!  She sat right at the table with us.

The rain did come later, so I did get to play some games and was thankful for a few other fellow gamers.  Erin, Brian, Mario and Moria liked “Oh, Hell”.  Brad and Angela liked Settlers of Katan…YAY!  We also had some nice meals and got some good porch time while watching the incoming clouds.  It was a relaxing weekend in the mountains.

Finally, Erin was nice enough to gift a Colorado paver to Estabrook.  What a nice hammock view!  ETB

Awesome Fourth of July Weekend at Estabrook!

Estabrook

David and I made it up to Estabrook on Wednesday and set out for a short reconnaissance hike since we had heard all the bridges along the creek had been knocked out by all the high water this spring. The first two bridges made of a steel trellis and wood planks were washed aside. At the first bridge we waded through the cold creek which was still a few feet higher than normal. At the second bridge, other logs got knocked into what could be used as a crossing so we carefully stepped across the logs to one of our old kids’ campsite. The next bridge was out as well, so after searching for edible mushrooms, we turned around and took the logging road up to Eagle’s Rock and an overlook over Johnson’s Gulch. The road was intermittently marshy sometimes with a light stream of water flowing down the slope.

The meadow beneath the aspen stand was home to countless wild flowers and a cool looking yellow spider. I think we found seven varieties of mushrooms. David knew that a few were edible, but without his mushroom book we stuck with one variety which he knew the name. They went quite well on pasta! I supposed the bear wanted some mushrooms too as it visited us for the fullmoon night.

Upon our return, the rain began falling harder with every step. The road even wetter, we didn’t even bother removing our shoes to wade through the creek. By the time we reached the porch, we were soaked and cool, but it made for a nice afternoon by the fire.

Brian, Erin, and Ellen arrived Thursday night while Mike, Mario, and Moria arrived Friday afternoon. David and I, along with our Thursday guests found a nice hike for Friday morning, Silver Dollar Lake. It is only 1.5 miles one way to the lake and 2.2 miles one way if we wanted to extend the hike to Murray Lake. I have wanted to complete this hike for sometime. I tried this winter, but the trail wasn’t decipherable.

Silver Dollar Lake and Murray Lake

After an hour drive with David speeding along the dirt roads, we arrived at the trailhead. We began the hike climbing a few switchbacks through the evergreen forest. Soon we reached treeline as we overlooked Naylor Lake. The trail turned to a muddy mess at times from the recent snow melt. We slowly made our way to Silver Dollar Lake after stopping along the way to admire more magnificent wildflowers. With all the spring rain, the wildflowers will just get even better this summer!

At the lake, a young boy was flying a drone around! It was sort of cool, since he had a camera, but we were in the wilderness for some peace and quiet so we kept climbing to Murray Lake which was lovely. Only one other person sat along its shore, and he joined us for lunch as the approaching clouds cooled us off. It was time to head back to the cabin. We hung out on the porch, enjoyed happy hour, and eventually settled in for a tasty BBQ dinner prepared by Moria in honor of July 4th!

Eagle Rock and Johnson’s Gulch

Our next day’s hike was an adventurous one. Everyone was game to at least wade through the creek twice, so we took the same hike as Thursday morning up to Eagle Rock and the Johnson’s Gulch overlook for magnificent views and a bonus spotting of wild turkey. Some of the boys wanted to venture up the creek without the bridges, so a few folks headed back to the cabin while the rest of us looked for creek crossings. We waded across not far from the next bridge that was out and made it to the bear’s cave. If there is anything positive to say about the flooding waters is that they knocked the ugly logs that were stuck in the creek near the bear’s cave down river which made for a much prettier view at my favorite place in the world.

Finally we found a few newer bridges in tact, but one crucial one was out. The creek was just low enough to cross. Any higher it may have been harrier than it already was as we David had to rescue Mike’s dog, Marley ten down the creek. After stopping for a few photos at the hanging bridge, we waded through the water once more at Johnson’s Gulch to take a higher path along another logging road back to the house.

I think we probably logged 8 miles, enough to work up an appetite for taco and margarita night at Estabrook, a must! Dessert of S’mores, cards, and some dancing followed for a fun night! What a way to spend the Fourth of July, in the mountains with great company! ETB

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The Rockies: A Weekend at Estabrook

A weekend at Estabrook is always a treat. I feel so lucky that I get to enjoy such a great place with my friends and family. This year included some new faces with the old. Kristin joined me again, though her husband Justin couldn’t make it because he is in flight school. A new friend Suman, who is a travel addict like me, joined with her friend Debbie. And two of the boys, Harlow and Brian, from the Thursday night crew got to join in the fun.

After a continental style breakfast, we ventured toward the Bear’s Cave. I feel like I’ve hiked this trail almost every day I’ve been to Estabrook, and it never gets old. The Bear’s Cave is the most peaceful place in the world to me.

We started down the road, past the barn, made a quick stop in the black smith shop, and then continued to the Pines where we crossed the bridge and followed the overgrown trail to one of our old campsites. Here we took a detour up an old logging road through a field of wildflowers with my favorite being the mariposa lily to Eagle Rock. Eagle Rock offers a magnificent view of green roofed houses situated 300 feet below in the lush valley.

After a shorter breather, we backtracked to the trail, and followed one another in single file with Marley, Harlow’s golden retriever, brushing against our side while trading the lead. We passed by another old campsite before we reached one of the few remaining 30 year old bridges. The rest have been washed out and rebuilt over time. I suggested we cross the bridge, with a few rotted planks, one at a time, though I failed to warn to walk in the middle of the bridge over the log supporting it.

Four of us made it across before Suman stepped to left of one of the planks which popped up. In slow motion, we watch Suman splash into the cold water of Craig Creek. The boys were quick to react and help her out. Thankfully, she didn’t sport more than a bruise, a few scratches and some wet clothes. The only casualty was a lost water bottle. Even her phone still worked! We were only about 2 miles into the hike and had about 4 more miles to go…Suman was a trooper to squish squash along in her wet shoes the rest of the way.

We enjoyed another short rest at the Bear’s Cave as we admired the rock formations overhanging the trail as well as the mossy vegetation. We continued the less dangerous bridge crossings all the way up to the hanging bridge which led us through a large crevice. Eventually we reached Johnson’s Gulch, crossed the creek, and followed the logging road back to the house.

Fortunately, the afternoon was slightly overcast, as the road can be rather hot and sunny. I misinformed the group when I claimed there wasn’t much climbing. I remembered it as being undulating, but at times the road’s loose scree and grade made it seem like the 500 feet of elevation gain was a touch more. After reaching the summit of the mountain behind the house, we turned down another logging road to finish our loop hike just in time for lunch on the front porch while we watched the hummingbirds fight for sugar water.

The afternoon called for a few of us to stroll along the Platte and look for railroad spikes. We actually found a whole, perfectly straight one…a rare occasion. The afternoon called for the half to take a nap! It was that kind of day though…just about the time for rain.

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A weekend at Estabrook wouldn’t be complete without taco night. My mom’s tacos are the best, and of course they must be served with the Bartarita…Bart’s famous margarita…oh soooo good! We capped off the night with S’mores and Oh Hell…a fun card game, a high school friend taught me. Brian won by a slim margin.

Bartarita night is usually followed by a leisurely bacon and egg morning. This Sunday was no exception. Suman and Debbie did the honors of cooking. Afterward, the girls wanted to learn to fly fish. Given Bart taught me at a tender age, mostly by feel, trying to show people how to fish is not my strong suit. Lucky for me, they didn’t care if they caught anything, they just wanted to try it out. It was more like an exercise in entertainment than anything, though I will say, there was hope with a little more time and a few more tries. I needed Chas, my expert fishing guide friend, to be there, but he and Ellen were arriving at 4 and my weekend guests dispersed back to Denver around noon.

Chas and Ellen arrived in the next afternoon thunderstorm, the consistent theme of the summer. After happy hour which included Triscuits and cheese and the beer Chas brewed, we settled in for a tournament of Settlers of Catan. The girls took all three games, so I suspect Chas will want a rematch soon. Our chicken and pasta dinner was quick and better than expected. We were all set for Tanya to arrive tomorrow for some more hiking adventures. ETB

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