Happy Hiking: Rosalie to Abyss Trail

The Plan

With our property located near Bailey, I have hiked most of the out-and-back surrounding trails off 285 and Guanella Pass.  As a result, I have been trying to mix it up with different combinations on trails.  Today, my friends, Tanya and Jimmy, joined me in a point to point which combined a portion of Rosalie Trail with Abyss Trail.

Up until the State of Colorado created the app, COTREX, I wasn’t sure how long the hike would be.  Now, however, hikers may use the measurement tool to calculate distances.  Admittedly, I still faced some user error, as upon proposing it to my friends, I came up with 8+ miles and 12+ miles.  I’m still uncertain of the exact length as our watches indicated a 10 mile hike.


Roadtrip to the Rockies: Geneva Mountain

I’m so glad summer has arrived in Colorado.  It was definitely a long winter for the non-skiiers like me who look forward to hiking.  While some trails are still snowed in, Danelle, Mike and I found a fun hike to Geneva Mountain with little snow on AllTrails.


End of the Season at Estabrook

Two of the last three weekends I’ve gotten to spend at Estabrook, what a treat! Of the two weekends, the first one I spent much of the time hiking the Colorado Trail with Bart, Sue and Jim and I blogged these events. I also took my token walk up to the Bear’s Cave with Jim, Brian and Erin. For some reason, following Craig Creek through the unkempt forest and crossing some dangerously old bridges never gets tiresome. We continued on over the hanging bridge, to Johnson’s Gulch, and followed the logging road along the mountain top back to the house. Along with hikes we enjoyed margarita night, s’mores and fireside chats.

This past weekend called for closing time. Cat and Suman helped me out with the chores, but not before we had some fun. While Cat got in some practice mountain biking time at Buffalo Creek for her upcoming race, Suman and I ventured to Georgetown to ride the train! We took the long, pretty way over Guanella Pass into Georgetown. It was a perfect choice. The yellow aspen twinkled beneath the bright sun in the brisk morning breeze along Guanella Pass Road. The bighorn sheep seemed to think the best grass was roadside…what a treat to see them!

After a leisurely drive to and through town, we arrived at the Georgetown depot early enough to browse the shop and shoot some photos along the creek before boarding the train from Georgetown to Silver Plume for the 12:10 departure. I believe the round trip is just over an hour and the Georgetown Loop Railroad offers a variety of options and departure times. We chose a Parlor Car which provides tables and chairs, free snacks of the Crack Jack style and Coke products, alcoholic beverages for purchase, and the car is enclosed. This first class experience cost us $35. Coach cars, which are open air and bench seating without food and beverage service are $9 less. Dinner options are also available.

The train was completely full. We stretched our legs in Silver Plume for ten minutes, but were not able to explore the tiny town, hopped back on board, and returned back to Georgetown where we spent the afternoon browsing the antique shops and then enjoying tea at the Dusty Rose Tea Room. We just went back in time about 100 years I think. If only we had dressed for the occasion! http://dustyrosetearoom.com/

Regardless it was a fun time to stroll through the old town and to learn the history of the short-lived Georgetown Loop. In 1877 word of monumental silver discoveries in Leadville spurred a rush to the new ore fields 45 miles southwest of town. Union Pacific, anxious to join in the bonanza, planned several routes, one west from Georgetown over Loveland Pass. Unfortunately, Clear Creek Valley at Georgetown posed a problematic 6% grade, too steep for a locomotive. Union Pacific’s chief engineer was able to design a track that looped over itself and reduce the grade to 3.5%, but by the time the remarkable feat was completed three years later, other less complicated routes had been discovered and plans to continue the Georgetown line over the Divide were abandoned.

The Loop’s ingenuity, however, became a tourist attraction, and people from all over began taking the railroad from Denver to Georgetown and over the loop to Silver Plume. From Silver Plume, visitors took the Argentine Central Railroad to the top of Mount McClellan or rode the Aerial Tramway up Sunrise Peak. Tourism lasted until WWI and the arrival of the automobile ended the Denver line, but the reconstructed Georgetown Loop is here for anyone to enjoy. http://georgetownlooprr.com/

We took a different way home through Evergreen and enjoyed a night of margaritas and Settlers before we opted for another somewhat different activity on Sunday. We ventured to Castle Mountain Recreation at Wellington Lake and attempted hiking to the “castle”. Obviously, hiking is not a different activity, but actually paying to go to Wellington Lake hasn’t made the list often. It is a lovely site. The lake is large (167 acres). The giant rocks overhead look like their namesake, the “castle”. The mild and sunny October day with yellow aspen sprinkled in the forest of evergreen along the mountainside couldn’t have made for a better setting. http://www.castlemountainrec.com/

IMG_6604 beg of hike

Camping, fishing and boating is also available, though I can’t say much about that as we were simply there to hike. After we paid $5/person and $5/car, which seemed a bit steep, we began our adventure on the other side of the lake near the boy scout camp. The manager told Cat to follow the trail from the parking lot to the waterfall and at the waterfall we would find the trail to the castle. He said we would climb 2,000 feet in 2 miles.

To start, there wasn’t a trail at the parking, only a road! Luckily, some folks were just finishing up their hike, so we asked them. The husband made the hike sound like a simple loop, “the road forks, the right side is easier, or you can go left and follow the creek up a steep trail.”

Great, we thought as we walked 100 feet and found several forks in the road. We followed the fork to the farthest right though in hindsight should have headed toward the picnic tables in the middle. Our road took us to an opening in a fence with a sign “” with arrows on each side. Above “scouts” was “waterfall” with an arrow pointing diagonally to the left. Trails went to the left, right, and somewhat straight but veered to the left. Logically, we went straight, veering left as the diagonal arrow seemed. This was wrong. We should have followed the due left scouts arrow. We found this out two hours later after a grand adventure to the castle.

For much of the way, we did follow a steep trail up the mountain. Overlooks afforded us fantastic views of the lake. We kept looking for the waterfall and could hear water once in a while, but we could never find it. We continued up, even when the trail became poor and non-existent mostly because the boulders were awesome, the adventure was fun, and we were hopeful to find a trail to walk down as we didn’t want to descend the same way we went up!

Unfortunately, we eventually reached a point where we were not going up or around, so we found a decent place to descend. So while we didn’t reach the top, we certainly created our own experience. We never felt afraid either, as despite being lost, we always had our reference to the lake so we knew where we were, just not the trail. Suman, however, has decided she will no longer hike with me or Cat! Though we descended in a completely different spot, we ended up at the misleading sign. This time we chose left. In a few hundred feet, we found another sign pointing to the “castle” trail.

I can’t believe we made it so difficult on ourselves. It’s amazing how much difference a few hundred feet make in so many things in the world. For that matter inches and centimeters at times. Anyway, after a leisurely lunch by the waterfall, Suman indulged us and let Cat and I attempt the climb to the castle again. We didn’t want her to have to wait too long, so we hiked as fast as we could up the rather steep, granite scree trail.

We made it to the base. Climbed up the edge of the rock on one side then stop. It looked like we could have hike around the front face or maybe the back, but it would have required some investigating, time and energy that we may have had, but needed to save for another time. After enjoying the view for a minute or two, we faced a treacherous return. I’m not sure if the loose scree or the packed trail was harder to hike down, but many times it was harder to stay on our feet than our bushwacking earlier in the day. I would have enjoyed having my hiking poles on this one. I really enjoyed the hike, and I think I will have to donate to Castle Mountain Recreation again, as I want to spend more time on the summit.

I understand it can be reached from the Rolling Creek Trailhead for free, though it requires leaving the trail and bushwacking as well. It is also much farther so a $5-$10 may be worth it! Overall, it was a wonderful two weekends at Estabrook with good friends and fun activities. ETB


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photographic note card, maple leaf
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The Rockies: Burning Bear Trail and on to Estabrook

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


Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop.  Each card has a travel story associated with it.  20% of proceeds are donated to charity.


photographic note card, waterfall in Olympic National Park
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The Rockies: Another Weekend…Another Fourteener…Mt. Bierstadt!

Of the Colorado’s fifty-three fourteeners listed in the Colorado Summit Criterion, Mt. Bierstadt is considered one of the fourteen easiest.  The standard route that begins at Guanella Pass, is ranked a class 2, just as Mt. Yale is, though I must say, it is much easier than Yale.  Mt. Bierstadt is also one of the most popular fourteeners to climb due to its closer proximity to Denver, being located in the Front Range.  The peak was named for Albert Beirstadt, a praised painter of the Colorado Rockies in the 19th Century.

The trail begins at 11,669 feet and descends through a valley of wildflowers, weaves through willows, and crosses Scott Gomer Creek before it starts its ascent up the mountain. In fact, the first mile of the trail is quite simple which resulted in 2,850 feet to gain in the upcoming 2.5 miles! The one thing that stumps me about this fourteener is the Colorado rule, that a hiker must gain 3,000 feet for a fourteener to “count”.  2,850 feet is a little short of 3,000, so I don’t know how this one makes the official list, but it does and I’m counting it!

The next mile began moderate switchbacks up the slope which were much easier than the hike to Bill Moore Lake Kelley that I did just a few days ago.  So far, this hike felt like a breeze.  As we were discussing how Mt. Beirstadt was one of the easier fourteeners, a bystander chimed in, “There is no such thing as an easy fourteener.”  She is probably right. Things change in thinner air!  We hadn’t reached the steep part of the trail yet, and we were probably only at 12,500 feet.

The next mile and half to the summit was tough as the trail continued relatively straight up.  Up until this point our group of nine: Forrest, Theresa, Brandon, Scott, Justin, Kristin, Kelley, Eric, and I, had somewhat hiked together, stopping every now and then to regroup.  In the thin air, everyone had to hike to their own ability.  I prefer to just slog along at a slow pace.  Others go…stop and rest…then go again.

We all spread out as we lunged over large rocks, dodged watery parts of the trail still wet with melted snow, and yielded to other hikers going up and down the trail.  Eventually, Scott, Brandon, and I led the way.  We reached the highest point before the bouldering area, and waited here for the rest of the group.  Unable to take cover from a relentless, cold wind, we finally carried on.

Mt. Bierstadt required a significant amount of bouldering.  I enjoy the bouldering.  It is fun to look for the cairns and to try to decide the best way up to the summit.  It requires some concentration, though it isn’t hard, and it gives the legs a rest from the ongoing incline.  I probably also love it because I’m minutes away from summitting and my adrenaline is pumping!

Today was so gorgeous that we shared the summit with several other happy hikers.  Brandon and I found the summit register, a waterproof tube attached to a rock with a cable. A register wasn’t included, but some hikers who had summitted a few weeks ago had left their sign in the tube, so we scrawled our name on it and snapped our photo before we backtracked fifty feet or so to find a warm spot, out of the wind.

As Brandon cracked open a beer and I pulled out my PB&J, our group slowly joined us over the next forty-five minutes.  We enjoyed the sunny weather on the summit for an hour before heading back down.  If we thought the wind was relentless earlier, I’m not sure how to explain it now.  It was nearly blowing me sideways at times.  I had to look straight down to keep my hat from blowing off…many others lost theirs.

Once we got a 1,000 to 1,500 feet below the summit we were blessed to see the rare shaggy, mountain goat grazing on the green tundra.  It was so exciting!  Our only other mammal spotting was a quick glimpse of a marmot.  We were surprised to see any animals with all the people around, though despite all the cars along Guanella Pass, the trail didn’t feel too crammed. Everyone was amazingly spread out over the 7 mile round-trip.

Our climb to the summit took 2:40 which included some wait time, and our hike down took about two hours which included stopping to watch the mountain goats.  With an hour on the summit, our overall hike was close to six hours which made for an awesome Sunday!

As with my Mt. Yale hike, the stats from the “Map My Hike” app don’t exactly match up with the stats from the 14ers.com website.  Map My Hike gives me far more credit in distance for hiking…perhaps I weave a lot at 14,000 feet!  Regardless of the distance, time, elevation, or ranking, each hike over 14,000 feet feels like an accomplishment, and it is becoming an addiction.  I’m wondering who I can talk into going with me on another.  I’m ready to bag another peak!!