Monthly Archives: August 2013

Medicine Bow Peak

Labor Day Weekend represents somewhat of a rare occurrence in our modern world. For many with standard salary positions, Labor Day Weekend, along with Memorial Day Weekend and sometimes the 4th of July, are the three times of year in which a three-day weekend occurs automatically at a time of year with reliable weather. It is the rare opportunity to embark on certain adventures without having to dip into what is a precious commodity for many; vacation days. With how little chance many people have to go out and enjoy our natural world, see new places, and find new experiences, it is hard not to feel some kind of pressure to take advantage of weekends like these. Many even plan their excursions months in advance.

I come from this world. And, no matter how independent-minded I try to be, I find it hard not to feel this same pressure. There is some kind of pull on me, some strange aspect of my subconscious, my psyche reminding me of this scarcity. A voice in my head will actually tell me that not having some kind of an adventure on one of these “major weekends”, which includes Labor Day Weekend, is a waste of a resource more precious than anything monetary. It engulfs me, telling me that a mediocre Labor Day Weekend could possibly indicate that I am no longer an interesting person, regardless of what kind of activities I had been involved in the pervious weekends, or have planned for the coming weekends.

I bet this same pressure is felt by many. Therefore, I am told that on Labor Day Weekend nearly all of the popular recreation destinations in Colorado are “crowded”. But, I still really do not know what that means. Everybody has different thresholds for what constitutes crowded. And, part of me still suspects that to the average Coloradan, still not really that terribly used to the idea of Denver as a large city (or at least significantly larger than it used to be), the threshold for a place being considered “crowded” is much lower. Despite the fact that part of me reasons that being told something is “crowded” in Colorado is not something I need to concern myself with, I heed the advice given to me and head up to Wyoming, where I am told crowds are significantly less, even on a weekend like this one.

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Today I headed up to Medicine Bow Peak, which is about 35 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming, basically in South Central Wyoming. And, well, the advice I was given actually turned out to be correct. The hiking trail, from Lake Marie to the top of Medicine Bow Peak, the highest peak in the region, is actually surprisingly not crowded. The crowd is probably less than half the crowd I encountered both times I climbed “14ers” earlier this summer, and probably comparable to what I would encounter on day hikes in Colorado on weekdays! Amazing for a holiday weekend like this one.

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Today’s hike began at Lake Marie, at about 10,500 feet in elevation, but started out climbing rapidly up the side of the mountain. This is actually something I was quite prepared for, as the mountain itself looked quite steep from approach. Today’s climb would only take me to slightly over 12,000 feet in elevation, a roughly 1500 foot climb, but the first half of the climb occurred quite quickly, and it did not take long for the lake, and the parking lot to appear significantly below us.

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The next part of the hike, however, did take me by surprise. After climbing nearly 1,000 feet in the first mile, and feeling like I was actually on the verge of completing the hike, the trail flattened out. On the way to Medicine Bow Peak, there are several closer peaks that some would consider “false summits”, because they blocked the peaks behind them. We would hike around each peak in a semi-circle, the trail being either flat or having some minor rolling hills. This even included some downhill sections on the hike up the trail, which made the hike overall somewhat more challenging than other 1500 foot climbs.

I referred to this as “orbiting” these peaks. After each “orbit”, a new peak would appear, showing itself to be 100 feet or so higher than the pervious one. Each time, we would reason that the new peak was the one we needed to summit, only to be surprised to find the trail meandering on to the left of the peak once again, and another peak appearing in the distance.

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After four of these peaks, we finally encountered the peak we were destined to summit. After another steeper section, summiting this peak involved 100 feet of “scrambling”, which basically means climbing up a fairly steep vertical on rocks, with no one intended path. However, before the “scramble”, I was able to look down and see kind of an overview of the land I had already traversed. WIth all of the smaller peaks we had “orbited” around, we actually made some significant progress in the horizontal direction, and were quite far away from Lake Marie. A series of lakes near the trailhead appeared on the horizon looking down. The true beauty of the area could be seen from above, but did appear significantly different from it’s view from below.

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The trek up this mountain actually reminded me of climbing “14ers” earlier this summer in a few ways. First of all, most of the trail was above the tree line, and had a similar feel to it. Secondly, despite the fact that this peak barely rises over 12,000 feet in elevation, it is the tallest peak in the region. So, the top of the mountain had a similar “on top of the world” feel to it. And, of course, the rock and the scrambling.

I would say overall that this particular hike would be a great warm-up for those planning to hike “14ers”. It has a similar feel, is also in the arctic tundra at high altitudes, but is less challenging with less vertical climbing. The “14ers” I climbed earlier this year were similar in length (7-8 miles total), but were steeper climbs in general, without the flat-ish section. They also generally contained longer and steeper scrambles at the top. For the purpose of working up to the challenge, I would recommend this hike for anyone that is looking for a good warm-up for a “14er”.

Denver to Boulder by Bicycle

Recent studies have shown that not only has bicycle commuting increased in popularity over the course of the 21st Century thus far, but so has bicycle traveling.  Maybe it is the rise in gas prices.  Maybe it is the increased interest in combating obesity.  Or maybe it is just some kind of generational shift.  But, the increased interest in bicycle traveling has even lead to the development of a plan to implement a national bicycle route system similar to the highway system already in place for cars.

Locally in Colorado, one of the most important corridors for medium distance bicycle travel would be connecting Denver to Boulder.  Given the fact that both cities are very health conscious and bicycle friendly, and that enough people travel between the two cities every day to jam up highway 36, I have quite an interest in finding an ideal route between the two towns.  Well, the ideal route for now, until the bike path following U.S. 36 is developed, which may take some time.

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Today marked my second attempt to find the ideal bike route between the two towns.  My first attempt was back in May, a month that tends to have more ideal weather for intense activities at these elevations.

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My journey to Boulder, of course, began in the city of Denver, eventually following a route labelled D1.  The city of Denver actually has a local version of the National bicycle route plan envisioned, with a bunch of bicycle routes through the city labelled D1 through D22.  While Denver has better bicycle facilities and route labeling than most cities, labels such as this one are still somewhat intermittent.  Cyclists in Denver would benefit from signs alerting cyclists to when the route turns.  This particular route made two turns while I was on it, and neither turn was specifically signed.

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Despite the fact that Denver and Boulder both lie East of the Rocky Mountain Range, the ride between the two towns is definitely not flat, and includes some challenging parts.  Periodic hills, followed by descents into river (or creek) valleys occur throughout the ride.  In fact, the ride in Denver begins with a significant climb from downtown through a neighborhood called “The Highlands”, which, as it’s name advertises, actually rises a couple of hundred feet in elevation higher than downtown.  On this ride, I continued to climb until reaching the Denver City Limits, near Wilis Chase Golf Course, where entering Arvada, I encountered a pretty good view of the mountains, followed by one of the steepest downhill parts of the ride, into Clear Creek Valley.

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In Clear Creek Valley, I got to follow two bicycle trails, the Clear Creek Trail, and then the Ralston Creek Trail.  Although the Ralston Creek trail is not the nicest of bike trails (less underpasses, more curves), it has one of the best bicycle bridges I have ever had the privilege of riding over.  Bridges for bicycle trails are rarely as elaborate as this one.

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Arvada is reasonably bike friendly.  There are the aforementioned trails, and there are plenty of roads with bike lanes.  On Pierce St., the main street I followed north through the town of Arvada, there is even an area where the road itself is discontinuous, but a connecting bike path is available for cyclists.  Quite nice!

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Unfortunately, the village of Westminster is not nearly as bike friendly.  To be fair, Westminster does have bike trails, but it does not really have bike trails designed to connect one place to another.  Their bicycle route system definitely indicates that the people of Westminster, at least at the time when they planned their town, viewed cycling primarily as a mode of recreation, and not as a mode of transportation.

My route through Westminster has always been to simply to take the sidewalk along Wadsworth Rd., a very major road with a lot of traffic lights, strip malls, etc.  This is already problematic as it is basically sidewalk bicycling, which involves a lot of bumps in the road, and the necessity of slowing down for every major intersection and being very careful for vehicular traffic.

In addition to this issue, part of the sidewalk was closed, and under repair.  In addition, there was no real alternate option, as most of the roads in that are are parsed out in subdivisions, not connecting neighborhood to neighborhood, and rarely traveling in a straight line.  So, I rode through the shopping centers on the west side of the road.  The roads were smoother than the sidewalk had been even when it was not under repair, but there were a significant number of speed bumps I had to slow down for.  In the grand scheme of things, whenever riding through metro-Denver, the entire village of Westminster can be thought of as a speed bump.  Although it is not as unfriendly to bicycles as some suburbs I have encountered in other metropolitan areas, it is definitely the least friendly in the Denver area, and progress is definitely slowed whenever cycling through Westminster.

Finally, the sidewalk ended abruptly on two occasions.  Once, I took a detour that took me out of my way.  The second time, I actually got onto the shoulder, which is fairly wide north of all of the shopping centers, but the road speeds up to 55 mph, making the experience not as enjoyable.  After cycling this stretch of road, and uphill some more, I finally entered the town of Broomfield, where I knew conditions would improve.

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Broomfield also has a lot of windy roads, but it is significantly more bike friendly, with bike lanes on a lot of them, especially in the office park area, known as “Interlocken”, and the area by the Flatirons Mall, where I cycled through today.  In that way, it reminded me of Colorado Springs, health conscious, bike friendly, with a suburban look and feel to it.

I had always considered Westminster to have closer ties with Denver, and Broomfield to have closer ties with Boulder.  However, I have no real evidence to back that up, only hearsay from those around me.  However, the towns of Superior and Louisville, which I biked through next, definitely are more closely tied with Boulder.  This is where I reached the summit of my trip, if you can call it that, along McCaslin Rd.

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This hill is only about 400 feet higher in elevation than downtown Denver, but with it being the highest point in the area, climbing to this peak actually offers some of the best views of the Flatiorns, and the Rocky Mountains.  The Flatirons are a series of formations in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, right outside of Boulder.  I believe they are called “The Flatiorns”, because the rocks actually form neat looking slanted sheets, as opposed to the smaller rocks, or more rounded terrain features more typically seen in this part of the country.  The Flatirons are a mountain feature that will always be synonymous with the city of Boulder, and the rest of my ride into Boulder was a rapid descent along South Boulder Road, directly facing this mountain feature.

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Four rapid miles, and something like ten minutes later, at an elevation over 300 feet lower than where I was on McCaslin Rd., I reached the Boulder city limits.  Once inside the city of Boulder, several things change abruptly.  First, in Boulder you can get anywhere by bicycle.  However, be prepared to be humbled.  From the time I left my home in Denver (South of downtown), I was passed once, only once.  Over the last three miles of my ride, inside Boulder, I was passed three times.

I was quite pleased with myself today.  I made it to Boulder in two and a half hours despite the slowdown that is Westminster, and was not nearly as tired as I was when I did this ride back in May.  Every single part of this ride, including many of the more challenging uphill segments, seemed easier, some significantly easier.  However, there is no place like Boulder, Colorado to remind you that there are people out there that are way better than you!

Goin’ Down to South Park

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I decided to break with a previous precedent I had set in this blog to only post one entry about a day’s travels.  In retrospect, some of the entries I posted a couple of months ago, which combined several activities into one post just because they were done on the same day seem like they may have come out a bit awkward.  In reflecting on the travel writing I had previously read, they appeared to make breakouts by experience way more than date.

Since I had already traveled to the South and West along highway 285 to get to Staunton State Park today, I decided to continue along the road a bit to get to Fairplay, Colorado.  By looking at my DeLorme Atlas, and then doing a subsequent Google search, I determined that the show South Park, is based (some argue loosely) on this town.

As someone who is a fan of this show, it probably sounds stupid that it took me over a decade, as well as over a year after moving to Colorado, to figure this out. But, I am not one to base my life around T.V. shows.  I feel like people nowadays focus too much on T.V. shows.  I get exhausted by conversations about T.V. shows, and saddened by people who appear to posses a greater understanding of the lives of fictitious characters on a weekly T.V. show than the lives of actual people who should be important to them.

In South Park though, I see a show that can come to represent something more.  Most shows people watch are entertaining, but don’t change anyone’s lives.  Sometimes, a groundbreaking show like Seinfeld will come along, but Seinfeld mainly changed the course of television, not history or society.  There have been shows like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that produce commentary about real issues from time to time.  But South Park has come, to me at least, to represent an actual societal development.  It has come to represent the courage to retain the right to think individually, and come to a critical conclusion of almost anyone or anything regardless of what level of esteem they have come to enjoy by long-standing institutions or large groups of people.  It is the anti-group think, and the backlash to the political correctness movement of the 1990s.

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However, the South Park Museum in town has absolutely nothing to do with the show.  But, it was a really good museum depicting life in the west in the 1870s/1880s.  The town was somehow preserved exactly as it was in that era, even down to the layout of the street and buildings.  There is even a historic train at the far end of the street.

Over 40 buildings were preserved, from homes, to the general store, saloon, blacksmith, and all of the quintessential buildings needed to make a true “old west” town.  Each building contained a significant amount of artifacts from that era, and museum attendees could actually walk through almost all of them and see most of the items used in day to day life here up close.  Walking through all of these buildings, I could actually imagine myself back in the old west.  I could picture myself living the life of the 300 or so residents of this town during that time period.  Overall, I have visiting my fair share of recreations like this, and this one has been the most realistic!

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It is quite rare that any kind of museum, or historic town can lead to someone actually imagining themselves to be there!  However, there I was, imagining myself washing my clothes at the wash house, picking up supplies at the general store, boarding the train, and even getting involved in a game of cards at the saloon as if I were in the movie Maverick.  And all this was after I was expecting an entire museum about an animated T.V. series!

Also included in this museum was a 10 minute film strip about the town, and some basics about the history of the area.  All of this is not too far out of the ordinary.  As I visit more historical locations throughout the west, I have come to the conclusion that two themes are emerging from the beginning of the white man’s history of the west; fur and gold.  Most of the trails and even some of the towns in the area appear to have been established by fur trade, or gold rushes.  However, every gold rush appeared to have come to an end within a decade.  Some towns, like this one, found another niche (in the case of Fairplay it was ranching, and being a business center and county seat).  Others, like the ghost town I wandered through this past weekend, simply died when the gold ran out.

Overall, though, I can’t help but find it somewhat ironic that the history of the west was forced so much by fur and gold.  So, it feels to me that as much as we want to characterize the old west with images like this one.

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I can’t help but think that since most of the early settlers were searching for fur and gold, the old west can be just as easily characterized by images like this one.

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This recreation of the old west town was, of course, walled off from the rest of the town that was significantly more modern looking.  A few gift shops appeared to be trying to capitalize on the town’s association with the show, but not as many as I had expected.   The town had a somewhat similar layout to most small towns I am familiar with, with a central business district, and some larger shops and houses on the outskirts.  But, compared with the only other town above 9000 ft. I have spent a significant amount of time in, Breckenridge, it was a lot less dense.  The central business district was quite spread out, amongst a few streets and a fairly large area.

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The one thing that definitely did remind me of the show, though, was the mountains outside of town.  Some of the mountain views from near town actually seemed to appear almost exactly as it appears in the cartoon.

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On the return trip, I once again encountered the Colorado Trail, at Kenosha Pass, which is the mountain pass that separates the “South Park” area from the Front Range.  I do find it odd, though, that this mountain pass is at an elevation less than 100 feet higher than the elevation of the town I was just in.

 

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Finally, the two images above that I did not take, the mountain man and the woman with the fur and gold, are credited to the site http://www.123rf.com.

 

A New State Park

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Back in May, a new state park opened up in Colorado; Staunton State Park, near Conifer, which is just under an hour Southwest of Denver along highway 285.  I started hearing the buzz about this new state park during the springtime, just before and just after the park’s opening in mid-May.  The manner in which people talked about, and anticipated, the opening of a new state park in Colorado reminded me of how people would respond to the opening of a new restaurant, particularly by one of those celebrity chefs, in Chicago.

Through this, I came to the conclusion that the opening a new state park is the Colorado is the equivalent of the opening of a new restaurant in Chicago.  So, I applied the same crowd-avoidance rules to visiting this park that I would have applied to visiting a new restaurant in Chicago.  I waited a few months (until August), and I went on an off-peak day (today is Wednesday).  And, it worked!  It was not too crowded today at Staunton State Park.

I decided to check out a few different parts of the park, as well as a few different types of trails. Most of the trails in the park, or at least most of the trail length, permits mountain biking. The first mile or so of the trail was actually smooth enough that I would have felt comfortable riding my cyclocross bike on it.  A little bit farther up the road, a few rocks did begin to appear on the trail, but the trail still seemed quite smooth for a mountain biking trail, especially compared with the Apex trail near Golden.  For people who are thinking about getting started with mountain biking, or with little experience looking for something not too intimidating, I would definitely recommend Staunton State Park.

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These trails also have a very moderate grade, making the hiking not too strenuous.  However, the few mountain bikers I saw traveling uphill on this trail appeared to be going rather slow.  So, it was probably steep enough to produce strain on a biker, but not a hiker.

I decided to check out one of the hiking-only trails.  A vast majority of the park is open to mountain bikes, with trails  that look like the pictures above, but there are a few places where only hikers are allowed.  The one hiking-only trail I took actually had a fairly strenuous section, with switchbacks and steep grades.  This strenuous section only lasted about 3/4 of a mile, making the hike overall significantly less strenuous than what would be labeled “strenuous” at a place like Rocky Mountain National Park, but it was not trivial by any stretch of the imagination, and would seriously challenge anyone that is not in shape.

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Even these trails open to hikers only were quite wide and well-marked.  They reminded me of what I would refer to as “luxury hiking” back in the Midwest.  Well, without the restrooms and benches along the way.  But, the trail seemed to be laid out in a manner with greater comfort in mind than in many of the other places I have hiked in Colorado.

At the top of the ridge, I could not help but reflect on this view, as well as the views I had encountered at the top of the 14ers (14,000 ft. + mountains) that I had climbed last month.  The more I encounter views like this, and compare them with views like the one at the top of this page (photo taken near the park entrance), the more I begin to think that the best mountain views are taken somewhere between the base and the peak- basically somewhere in the middle.  This is kind of why the view of the Front Range mountains from the hill between Boulder and Louisville is so scenic.  At the top of the mountain, some of the features are a bit tougher to make out.  I guess it took me a while to come to this conclusion.

I did not get to view one of the park’s defining feature, Elk Falls.  The map I was handed at the park’s entrance indicated to me that the trail to these falls was not opened yet.  I guess this park is still a work in progress despite the fact that it is already open to the public.  I could have followed a series of trails to the Elk Falls Overlook, but I figured that with this park’s proximity to Denver (home), I would have plenty of chances to get back here after the trail to the falls directly opens.

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I did, however, get plenty of views of the park’s other defining feature, the rock formations.  These rock formations appear to make it a great place for rock climbing.  In fact, the park even put together a climbing guide, and specifically labelled the trail that leads to the climbing area “Climbing Access”.  So, it appears to me that this would be a great place for rock climbers, but I would not know for sure.  I have never been rock climbing.  As a matter of fact, I am a bit unsure of whether or not I want to add this activity to my repertoire.  On one hand, people I know who climb appear to love it.  And, it would add an upper-body intensive activity to supplement my current activities, which are mainly lower-body intensive (mainly biking, hiking, and skiing).  However, rock climbing appears dangerous to me.  I am somewhat hesitant to take on a dangerous activity like this when I am perfectly happy with the less dangerous activities I currently do.  It’s just one of those decisions I will likely put off for a while and then make based on something arbitrary, like someone’s fairly ridiculous line of reasoning at a bar one night.

Overall, Staunton State Park appears like a good place to go for mountain biking and climbing, that still offers some fairly good hikes.  I look forward to checking this place out next year, hopefully with the Elk Falls Trail open, and seeing everything it has to offer.  However, I am thinking that for someone whose primary interest is hiking, the options for hiking that does not resemble walking down the road may run out pretty quickly.

The Lifeblood of the West

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The Colorado River is often referred to as the “Lifeblood of the West“.  Recent estimates place the number of people dependent on water from the Colorado River at close to 30 million.  This is a number that is likely expanding, and expanding fairly rapidly, given that water diverted from the Colorado River supplies water to some rapidly growing metropolitan areas, including Denver, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City.  Most of the areas dependent on the Colorado River for water supply are deserts that receive precipitation irregularly.  These cities would not have been able to grow into the large cities they are today without this water source.  Without it, our country, and it’s population distribution would be quite different.  It made an entire region the powerhouse it is becoming today.  The importance of this particular river to the United States would be hard to over-estimate.

It is also one of the most iconic rivers in the United States.  Along it’s course, it carved out some of the most scenic canyons in the world.  This includes the Grand Canyon, a location iconic enough to make it into Arizona’s state motto and attract five million tourists a year.  The Colorado River not only conjures up images of all of these iconic canyons, but also images of rafters, kayakers, and other water sports enthusiasts.  And, of course, one of the most iconic images of the Colorado River is the Hoover Dam, over 700 feet tall, one of many dams that supplies both water and power to the Southwestern United States.

This gigantic cascading of water has it’s origins in Rocky Mountain National Park, near the Continental Divide.  The headwaters are not accessible by road.  A several mile hike is required in order to reach the headwaters of this iconic river.

This particular hike was not especially physically challenging.  Nearly every hiking guide rates this hike as “easy”, as opposed to “moderate”, “strenuous”, or Long’s Peak, which needs a category of it’s own.  Being a trail that follows a river valley, it is not surprising that the hike is easy, as steep grades are not common along river valleys.  This is why many trails follow rivers.  In the pre-automobile days following a river was often the safest and most direct route for fur traders, settlers, etc.  The automobile came along and made travel quite a bit easier, but many of today’s roads still follow these trails.

One interesting exception is Trail Ridge Road, the road I took to get to the Colorado River Trail.  This road traverses Rocky Mountain National Park, but it climbs to a peak elevation of over 12,000 ft. along a ridge in the north central part of the park, as opposed to following one of the river valleys like many other roads do.  It is also the route of U.S. highway 34, a route that proceeds eastward through Estes Park, and then towards Loveland, CO via the Big Thompson canyon.  The road follows a trail through a river valley east of Estes Park, but not west of town.  I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915, after the automobile had already been invented.  So, the people who planned the park could plan around visitors with cars.  Had it been established earlier, like Yellowstone, would the road follow one of the river valleys to the north or to the south, as opposed to it’s route up Trail Ridge?  Historical what-ifs are always fun to ponder, but never verifiable.  At least we know that as things actually are, visitors to the park can enjoy a scenic drive up Trail Ridge Road from mid-late May through the end of September.

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Whenever a trail follows a river, there is an enhanced risk that the particular trail will be muddy.  The last couple of weeks have been rainier in North Central Colorado, and therefore, it was no real surprise to me that there were many places along this trail where the entire trail was covered with standing water, requiring hikers to either wade through it, or walk around it.  Anytime hiking, or bicycling along a dirt trail next to a river, one should prepare for such conditions after rainy days or rainy periods.

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I was expecting humble beginnings, and even considering titling this blog entry as such, but that is simply not true.  A mile or two into the trail, which is only a couple of miles from the source of the river, it already looks quite a bit wider than many rivers in this region.  Although the Colorado River gets a lot of additional force, and water flow, farther downstream, when it is joined by large tributaries, particularly the Gunnison, Green, and San Juan Rivers, seeing the river here it almost seems like this particular river stands out against every other river, creek or stream that flows off of the continental divide in this region.  Like that one child in grade school already reading at high school levels with a curious mind and appetite for learning, it seems destined for greatness at this early stage.

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One interesting thing about this particular trail is that it passes through a ghost town.  3.5 miles from the trailhead, is a place called Lulu City.  In my DeLorme Colorado Atlas, it receives some fairly large lettering, so I was expecting the ruins of a town of sorts, similar to what you see on the Plains, or in the Rust Belt when you drive through a town that has been abandoned.  However, it was nothing like that.  All that is there is this sign, stating that a town of 200 people existed here for a total of five years.  Only five years!  I wonder what the story of this place is, and why it even warranted this major mention both in my atlas and on the Rocky Mountain National Park trail maps and signs.

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After another mile or so of not too strenuous hiking, I arrived at the headwaters of the Colorado River.  The hike took less than two hours, and that was after going out last night and getting about three hours of sleep, so I was not exactly in top condition today.  Anyone wanting to view the Colorado River’s headwaters should actually stress the drive there more than the hike.  From Estes Park it is at least a half hour drive as the road traverses the park up and down a windy road.  Usually, it will take longer, as travel through the park slows down at nearly every scenic overlook, as well as anytime wildlife is seen and people stop to take pictures.

And of course, I can now forever say that I have walked across the Colorado River.  And I really walked across it, as opposed to when I walked across it on the bridge at the top of the Hoover Dam seven years ago.  That does not count.  But, when I get to the Grand Canyon, Moab, or any other place where the Colorado River has carved out an iconic scene, I will know that I have actually traversed across this very river with the assistance of nothing other than two logs, probably placed in the river earlier this year by someone with the same wacky idea and reasoning that I had today.

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Oh yeah, and I cannot claim the higher ground with regards to everyone stopping to take pictures of wildlife and causing delays getting across the park.  This was only the second time I have ever seen moose, and this bighorn picture could not be passed up.  Five and a half hours of driving, and three and a half hours of hiking later, I can at least take solace that I rode my bike 39 miles yesterday and therefore did not really need a lot of exercise today.