camping

Red Woods & Red Wine | Part 1

For as many wonderful weekend trips Matt and I get to experience here in Colorado, we had never been on a vacation just he and I. Like, a real: “we’re going to buy plane tickets and plan lodging and create an itinerary and we can do whatever our hearts desire because it’s just you and I, boo” type trip. But we amended this over Labor Day with a trip we’re affectionately referring to as Red Woods | Red Wine 2014.

As a team, Matt and I have a tendency (dare I say… talent?) for cramming as much as we can into as little a time frame as possible. And this weekend was no different. We had four days total, and determined the fairest way to prioritize our activities was to allot two days to each person. 2 days given to Matt to plan, and 2 days for me. We flew in to California, and to kick things off we headed north, close to the Oregon border, where we trekked into the Redwoods and spent the days among the giants.

Redwoods Road TripWe got in late Thursday night, and by the time we rented a car and got on the road it was after 9 p.m. … and we still had a 6 hour drive ahead of us. Matt being the gentleman he is (well, more like… Matt knowing what a monster I am when I don’t sleep), he let me grab some road trip rest while he pounded an XL Mountain Dew and put the pedal to the metal all night long. When I woke up, we were driving along the northern California coast, through the early morning fog. It was quite the treat to be greeted by the lush landscape.

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We hadn’t expected to be driving along so close to the shore, so despite some chilly early-morning temperature, we were compelled to pull over and run up to the water. It also provided the less-than-perfect opportunity to change into our hiking gear for the day, which involved Matt stripping down to his skimpies on the side of the road as traffic whooshed by. I kept my goodies to myself and changed in the car.

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IMG_2345IMG_2348Upon arriving at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park we were so excited that we jumped out of the car and took pictures inside the first tree we saw. You’ll notice I hadn’t even tied my shoes before hopping inside.

IMG_2390 IMG_2420 IMG_2427 IMG_2465I realize there are a lot of pictures of trees here. Having experienced them, I find them incredible and worth sharing, but I’ll spare you of ALL the bark-based photography, and just include my favorites. On our first hike of the day we ran into the Boy Scout Tree, a massive behemoth of  a tree in an old growth forest, just off the main path. We tried our best to demonstrate just how large and daunting the size of this guy was, but it just doesn’t do it as much justice as being there… which is something I can say about all of these.

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I guess to put it somewhat into perspective, Matt’s about 6’2″ and his wing span is… whatever the wing span of a 6’2″ dude is.

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I give everyone permission to make fun of Matt for his sad faces and “dejected middle schooler” appearance in each of these photos. In his defense, he was really overwhelmed with the awesomeness we encountered. And this… was just the first part of the first day. Matt had planned wisely.

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Mount Massive & Mountain Goats

April and May this year were on the chilly side, and June was downright rainy. It’s an understatement to say the weather this summer has been off, and between wet weekends and some knee problems for Matteo, our summer hiking season is off to a late start. We hope to remedy that this weekend, with an aim to climb Mt. Elbert in the Sawatch Range on Friday.

The last 14er we conquered was also in the Sawatch Range: Mt. Massive. The peak of Mt. Massive actually overlooked Mt. Elbert, and if the views from Elbert – which I believe is the highest 14er peak in Colorado – are anything like Mt. Massive’s, then we have a reason to climb.

Massive was the last 14er we did last year in late August, and despite an early start we didn’t reach above tree line levels until after the early afternoon clouds began rolling in. Fortunately, they were something to look at.

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Cloud Cover Mt Massive.jpg

Unfortunately, they had the ability to throw us off completely on how close to the peak we actually were. Several breaks ensued.

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Mt. Massive is the second highest 14er, and the trail begins in the lush San Isabel National Forest. The trail is 8 miles round trip (climbing from the trailhead at 10,500 feet to the peak at 14,421 feet), and the first 1.25 miles you wander through bushes along a river through a peaceful forest. A scenic start to an all around scenic hike.

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The obligatory photo at the peak.

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This hike was a little unique compared to other 14ers I’ve done – specifically due to the amount of wildlife we encountered along the trail.

While resting and refueling at the peak I noticed that we were being approached by a mountain goat – I’m guessing it was a nanny lady-goat from the horn size, but what do I know – and her baby. Listen, I know pretty much all wildlife Hulks out when they have babies around, and I have to say, upon seeing these two bounding up the peak like it was no big deal and approaching us without fear, I was more than a little nervous. I mean, look how tiny the baby is.

Some folks from out of state were on the peak with us, and actually started moving toward the pair – which I tried to express wasn’t a great idea. They got the picture when momma goat juked at them full-speed as Matt and I cautiously were backing away. But not before we got a few pictures to document this special encounter.

Mountain Goats Mt Massive.jpg Defensive Daddy Mt Massive.jpg

I never cease to be amazed at the things we get to do with our weekends in Colorado. Although incredibly unconditioned and starting my hiking season well into the year, the prospect of gorgeous views and encounters like this will hopefully propel me to the peak this weekend. God speed to myself and my fellow out-of-shape adventurers.

End of Summer at State Bridge

The end of the summer came and went, then the end of the year, then came a new job and here we are. I have a few backlogged posts of things we’ve seen and experienced, and I’ll be sharing them here over the next week or so.

Each summer Matt and I try to dedicate at least one weekend to a State Bridge getaway. Camping in State Bridge is different from our normal camping weekends where we try to find remote, quiet places to relax. Instead, we find ourselves in a mini tent city in a valley cut in two by the Colorado River and train tracks.

State Bridge is a small, scenic amphitheater, but during the day campers & concert-goers spend their time paddle boarding down the river and participating in yoga classes provided by the venue. It’s a guaranteed fantastic time if you can brave the crowds and chalk it up to a week of community – and it’s an especially good time if you catch a weekend with clear, dry skies.

And the drive to State Bridge, in Bond, Colorado, is pretty spectacular in itself.

Seen at State Bridge

Seen on the road to State Bridge

To State Bridge

State Bridge Camping Spot

Paddleboard in State Bridge

Litter Pig Steamboat

Welcome to the commune. It’s party time, but don’t be a litter pig, friends.

Railroad at State Bridge State Bridge Chaos State Bridge Tent City

This year, we wrapped up our summer in State Bridge at an Infamous Stringdusters show. Looking forward to this year’s lineup and more time in the State Bridge sanctuary.

calibron

As I mentioned, last summer, I completed my first 14er when I hiked to the top of Mt. Democrat.

Democrat is part of the “Decalibron” trail – a trail that passes through the peaks of four 14ers: Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, and Bross. We went back this past weekend to tackle the rest of Decalibron. #Calibron

I have no idea how long it was, or how much elevation we gained, but I CAN tell you that I’ve slept soundly the last three nights, and my legs are just now recovered from being tired tired tired. I will also note that It’s a very strange feeling to be what I can only describe as “Mountain Hopping” – knocking out three in a day. A strange feeling, indeed.

1 - Cameron's Up there! 1 - Climbing Cameron 1 - View from Cameron1 - Cameron

View from the top of Mt. Cameron! Now, off to Lincoln. This particular hike is GREAT for anyone who easily loses their way on trails. The entire way the trail is very distinct and visible. See below – from the top of Cameron you can see your way all the way to the next peak!2 - Headed to Lincoln2 - trail to lincoln

2 - Mt Lincoln Seal

At the top of 14ers there SHOULD be geological markers (if you can find them). I was only able to track down the marker at the top of Lincoln. I love them so so much. It’s like finding a little piece of treasure where you’d least expect it. 2 - Lincoln Summit TWO! Summitted Lincoln! And off to Bross…

3 - Trail to Bross

Again, off to Bross following a totally defined trail. Check it out moving all the way off to the left.

photo-83 - BrossFinally made it, and not a moment too soon. Gorgeous. Exhausting.

3 - Mt Bross Summit3 - Bross Summit 4 - Long road down

The one really difficult portion of this hike was the way back down. Just when my legs thought they couldn’t take anymore, I forced them to do more. Returning to the base down the back of Mt. Bross you follow a trail that’s under reconstruction – i.e. you follow a trail that is loose rock, narrow, and pretty steep for a really, really long time. The dogs were barking.

4 - Nearing the bottomView from the bottom! Phew! Glorious glorious flat land!


beyond the wildflowers

The main purpose for visiting Crested Butte was to peep the wildflowers, but we did some other fun things along the way.

Cottonwood Pass

Big Horn SheepThe Cottonwood Pass is rarely open, and we seized the moment. An excellent choice – the drive was peaceful, green, and cut 40 miles off our trip. We even ran into some sheep friends hanging in the river.

Downtown Crested Butte

Downtown Crested Butte 2Our first day we spent some time exploring downtown Crested Butte. Even in the most hipster parts of Denver, I have never seen so many bearded folk on bikes.

Most enjoyable, we popped into the Montanya Rum Distillery for some spicy samples and fresh, tropical drinks.

Distillery

Jalepenos

Montanya Rum

Montanya Tasters

rumAfter a morning hike through Judd Falls, we got ambitious and decided to tackle the peak of Mt. Crested Butte. It was late in the day, so instead of hiking from the base, we decided to take the lift halfway up. While paying for our lift tickets, the woman working told Matt, “It’s already 1:15, by time you get off the lift it will be 1:45, and the lift stops running at 2:45. You won’t be able to make it up to the top and back down in an hour. It’s not possible. You’re going to have to tack on an extra 2 miles to get down, but good luck.”

I knew the moment we got off the lift we’d be running. Not a great move to tell Matt he can’t do something. I instantly saw in his eyes, “challenge accepted.”

Up to Mt Crested Butte

Climbing Mt Crested ButteI was right. Dude made me work. So much so that I completely lost my breath and was seeing spots and started, essentially, crying. Girl’s gotta get in better shape. (this is me fake smiling because I’m so tired at this point – taken by Matt who was light years ahead of me)

Carins on Mt Crested Butte

man vs wildman vs. wild

View from the Summit

Mt Crested Butte SummitGrizwold view from the top. Snap a couple of pictures, then “Gotta go!”

Also, get yourself to the top of Mt. Crested Butte. For real. You’ll have an incredible 360 view of gorgeous mountains.

Oh, p.s. we made it back to the lift at 2:43 p.m. Good work, team.

brewery in crested butteFor putting me through momentary mountain-running hell, I was treated with a round of tasters at the Eldo Brewery and Tap Room – and by treated I mean, this whole tray of tasters ran us 4 bones. Their, uh, slogan (?) is “A Sunny Place for Shady People.” You’ll find this to be a true story – good beer, strange place. Check it out.

Also check out that look on Matt’s face… Since he found out he has Celiac Disease, I think this number one struggle and frustration has been cutting IPAs out of his diet. Being in a brewery is a major temptation – and borderline torture – for this guy (although, full disclosure, the IPA sample seen here was fully consumed by him, not without severe repercussions), but I have to give him props for his willingness to still accompany me.

photoThree little indians wrapped up in a tent to end the weekend.

marble, colorado camping

A gorgeous drive through Glenwood Springs, followed by camping and (hungover) hiking in Marble.

Hands down, my favorite drive through Colorado. What a stunner!

Check out all those photos from this lovely little weekend hike here!