Tanya and I went on the best hike today. We met up at the Westminster PNR by 7:20am and drove 1.5 hours to the 4th of July Trailhead located in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The parking lot was full, so we turned around and parked on the side of the dirt road with many other cars. I think the latest hikers may arrive with a chance of snagging a parking spot is 8:30am on the weekend. Continue reading “Roadtrip to the Rockies: Lake Dorothy”
A Hiking Weekend in Breckenridge
So the weather wasn’t terribly conducive to long, high altitude hikes in Breckenridge unless post holing and getting soaked by rainstorms sound fun.
My first hike of the weekend was on Friday to Wheeler Lake. The forecast originally called for rain in the afternoon and then changed to only cloudy. This was exciting though I later found out, inaccurate news. Continue reading “Roadtrip to the Rockies: A Hiking Weekend in Breckenridge”
Hiking Guatemala’s Volcanoes
There are a handful dormant and active volcanoes around Antigua, Guatemala. A volcano can be seen from almost any vantage point in the city. The four volcanoes surrounding Antigua are Volcán de Agua, Volcán Fuego, Volcán Acatenango, and Volcán Pacaya. Continue reading “Pacaya Volcano by Morning, Hobbitenango by Afternoon”
Transportation to Lake Atitlán
After working on the Bottle School, I spent the night in Antigua before getting transportation to Lake Atitlán. I was in Guatemala for the busiest season at Easter, but I was able to get transportation easily with the help of my hotel, La Casa del Mundo, located between the towns of El Jaibalito and Santa Cruz La Laguna on the edge of the lake. If they couldn’t have helped me, the hotel in which I was staying in Antigua, Hotel San Jorge, would have helped me. It seems to be common for each hotel to offer excursions and transportation. I was a little concerned about not reserving a space in advance, but it didn’t seem to be a problem, at least not for one person. Continue reading “Two Days at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala”
SCUBA Diving the Red Sea
This photo represents one of the many sunsets we enjoyed while diving off a live aboard for a week in the Red Sea. The Red Sea diving is marvelous. We saw a Moray eel attack a stonefish that was too big for it to swallow, so it wrapped its body around the fish like a pretzel to break it up. The eel dropped the fish and swam toward our semi-circle of six divers that mistakenly encroached on his space as we watched in awe. Our semi-circle quickly expanded, and the eel contentedly went back to his dinner. We hovered there for the last ten minutes of our dive before we had to surface to off-gas. Simply spectacular!
Featured “Fotographer”: Connally Reid
Website: Follow ConnallyReid on instagram
Background: Connally is my niece with a sense of travel adventure. A recent college graduate, she took three weeks to travel South America, and is now starting a job at Marathon Oil. Not only is she brilliant, she has a knack for snapping some fantastic photos in some amazing places.
Image Title: From the Heights of Trolltunga
Location: Trolltunga, Norway
Fun Fact(s): The hike where this photo is taken is called Trolltunga which means troll tongue. The hike takes about 10 hours. Connally and her cousin Catherine started late, so they ended up bringing a tent and camping at the top. It was much less crowded, and they got to see a great sunset. Aside from the spectacular scenery, what made the hike extra special for Connally was receiving her job offer there!
The Salkantay Trail
So I took many trips prior to ever starting my blog. I thought I would pay tribute to a few places with Throwback Thursday.
This was a photo taken on our hike to Machu Picchu along the Salkantay Trail.
Roadtrip with Friends to Hike Near Fort Collins
Trail(s): Greyrock Meadows Trail and Greyrock Trail
Location: Greyrock Mountain
Distance: 7.1 miles
Normally my “Roadtrip to the Rockies” posts entail me heading west from Denver into the Rockies. Today, however, we headed north toward Fort Collins to climb Grey Rock Mountain.
I found a few descriptions of the trail that ranged from beginner to strenuous. If climbing to the summit, which is optional via a spur trail, I’d say this hike was strenuous and otherwise moderate. It is not a for a beginner.
Mike and I drove the 1.5 hours (one of my criteria for a day hike near me) to the trailhead located on the opposite side of the two-lane highway from the parking area which fortunately had pit toilet.
The first steps we took after crossing the road was across a bridge that offered spectacular views of the snow covered river. Upon reaching the other side, we strapped on our micro-spikes as despite our late morning start the trail was still rather icy.
Trail(s): Spruce Mountain Trail to the Upper Loop
Location: Spruce Mountain Open Space
Website: Douglas County Open Space
Distance: 5.5 miles
Yesterday we tried going to the mountains during ski traffic while I only had a 1/4 tank of gas. This required a reverse course of action, and we ended up watching The Last Jedi which ironically a major theme in the movie was about low fuel! Anyway, we salvaged the day, and I salvaged my weekend hike by heading a different direction, south to the Town of Larkspur.
I didn’t know much about Larkspur except a few passing mentions on the news. I didn’t even know where it was relative to Denver. I have to say, the town was smaller than I expected. The main road passed through the center of town which I might have missed had there not been a slow speed limit and a blinking stop sign. The street was lined with local businesses and government buildings including a vet, a pizzeria, a bar, a mexican food restaurant, a town hall, and a fire station. After a few blocks, I was back in the wilderness just a few miles from Spruce Mountain Open Space. Operated by Douglas County, Spruce Mountain is a large mesa and home to 8.5 miles of trails.
The Spruce Mountain Trail begins in the meadow before turning to the left where it leads hikers up about a mile of switchbacks through a forest of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir before reaching the summit. Hikers may follow a 2.3 mile trail that loops around the mountain’s large, flat top loaded with rocky lookouts for views in every direction.
There is a service road connection to the upper loop that offers a few more miles of trails and a different way back to the trailhead for a longer and different hike. I stuck with 5.5 mile lollipop loop also known as Mountain Top Loop by the posted signs. The trailhead map as well as the one on the website doesn’t reference this loop in totality (just separate trails), so it’s a little confusing unless time is taken to add up the mileage of each section to figure out which loop to follow as there are several possibilities of loop hikes available.
The 5.5 mile loop includes hiking from the trailhead to the upper loop (also not terribly accurate on the map showing only 1.6 miles associated with the name not 2.3) and back down the same way. Had I understood the combined map/sign posts better, I might have gone for a longer trek, but the temperature felt a lot colder than I expected. Perhaps the snowpacked trail is what made the air feel brisk, but it hardly felt like the forecast 55 degrees, and with only three layers with me, I didn’t want to risk being outside near sundown as the mercury plummets. After one visit, however, it is easy to understand the lay of the land.
This hike would be spectacular for sunset shots as the Greenland Overlook is only about 1.6 miles from the trailhead on Spruce Mountain Road which would likely provide enough time for hikers to get back to their cars with perhaps a little help from a headlamp. There is another lookout that is even better at Windy Point, but this would definitely require hiking in the dark. Had I had another jacket, I may have stayed to watch the sky turn pink, but I finished up the hike just thirty minutes too early and was feeling a bit chilled.
This trail was pretty popular for an afternoon hike, and I enjoyed the lookout with a handful of other hikers, some of whom were definitely hiking up for sunset views as I was returning to the car. This park is worth a visit. Maybe I’ll repeat this in the summer when the wildflowers are out. 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.
Want to know what to do for two days in Ouray during winter? Here are a few ideas for the top things to do in Ouray.
WHERE TO STAY:
Stay at The China Clipper Inn. I scored a room for $100/night just a month before this busy weekend. This spectacular Bed & Breakfast is located in town just one block off Main Street. The China Clipper Inn is wonderfully decorated. It’s living room includes a fireplace which is very nice to enjoy during the winter months. It’s breakfast is great. It includes warm items like eggs, quiche, potatoes, ham and bacon, as well as mouth watering muffins and a lovely fruit salad. Of course it also includes coffee, tea ,juice, cereals and breads too. My room had its own fireplace! It is a really great, quaint place nearby everything. Continue reading “Road Trip to the Rockies: Two Days in Ouray!”