Hiking

Settling into Stanzas: Angler Mountain Trail No. 29 and Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself"

May 21, 2016 — 

Part 15

The pure contralto sings in the organ loft,

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Hike Summit County: May hiking to Ptarmigan Peak near Silverthorne

May 14, 2016 — 

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness Area is 12,594 acres of forest, meadow and tundra located east of Silverthorne, across the Blue River Valley from the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area. The Ptarmigan Trail begins at 9,100 feet and ascends 5.4 miles to the summit of Ptarmigan Peak (12,504 feet), with a gain of 3,400 vertical feet. Thanks to a deceptively level grade during the first three miles as the trail proceeds north above the town, the trail profile is actually longer and has greater elevation gain than the route to Quandary Peak (14,265 feet), one of the “easy” 14ers found six miles south of Breckenridge.

The Ptarmigan Trail route

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Hike Summit County: Spring hiking at Colorado National Monument and Rattlesnake Canyon

April 30, 2016 — 

Spring and fall are great times of the year to escape to the lowlands of Colorado. Desert temperatures are warmer than the snow-capped tundra on mountain summits, but not too hot for a refreshing hike. To the west of Summit County, Colorado National Monument is a favorite destination for day hikes among the eroded red rock plateaus, with views of exposed spires and natural bridges in the surrounding canyons.

Colorado National Monument’s main access, Rim Rock Road, winds its way to the top of a plateau about 600 feet above the valley below. From the top of the plateau, many of the great rock formations in the Monument are within view. The Civilian Conservation Corps is responsible for the development of the drainage, road and trail improvements inside the Monument. There are a dozen day-hike trails to enjoy, with trailheads marked at pullouts along Rim Rock Road.

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Pedal Power Winter Race Series celebrates 20 years with kick-off on Dec. 12

November 18, 2015 — 

Dust off your snowshoes and tune up your fat bike. It’s winter race season.

For the 20th year, Pedal Power bike shop in Avon is hosting a winter race series for snowshoers and fat bikers. The Pedal Power Winter Race Series is a perfect outlet for high-energy endurance racers who just can’t get enough of singletrack in the summer — or just can’t stomach the thought of ski mountaineering.

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Hike Summit County: Red Buffalo Pass

July 4, 2015 — 

Red Buffalo Pass is located west of Silverthorne and east of Vail. The pass is named for the surrounding mountains of Red Peak (13,189 feet) and Buffalo Mountain (12,777 feet). The pass itself is part of a ridge over the amphitheater bowl that lies west of Buffalo Mountain. Buffalo Pass (11,770 feet) is the ridge of the Gore Range that forms South Willow Creek watershed to the east and Gore Creek to the west.

The hike is intermediate in grade and strenuous due to the 5-mile trek from the Buffalo Cabin Trailhead to Red Buffalo Pass, with 2,000 feet of vertical gain. The dense evergreen forest near the trailhead provides opportunities to view wildflowers, including arnica, paintbrush, mountain chimes and columbine. The upper tundra meadows fill with avalanche lilies as soon as the snowfields melt in early summer. In the wetlands, globeflower and marsh marigolds line alpine brooks. The most outstanding scenery is found viewing the back slopes of Buffalo Mountain and sharp ridge of Eccles Pass to the south.

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Colorado Hiking: South Willow Falls

July 11, 2015 — 

South Willow Falls is located in the valley between the steep, rocky slopes of Red Peak (13,189 feet) and Buffalo Mountain (12,777 feet). The pass itself is part of a ridge over the amphitheater bowl that lies west of Buffalo Mountain. South Willow Creek forms from the tributary brooks pouring out of the great bowl of dense evergreen forest west of Buffalo Mountain.

The hike is intermediate in grade, rising and descending a few hundred feet as it follows the base of Buffalo Mountain for 1.5 miles. South Willow Falls is two miles from the Buffalo Cabin Trailhead, with about 500 feet of elevation for a profile ¬—an easy day hike by mountain standards.

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Hike Summit: Argentine Pass Trail near Keystone

September 11, 2015 — 

Dating back to 1869 as a transportation corridor, the Argentine Pass Trail is actually the remnant trace of a wagon toll road from Georgetown to mining camps on the western slope of the Continental Divide.

In 1864, five years before the road was developed, silver deposits were found on the slopes of McClellan Mountain (13,587 feet), found 2 miles north of an area later named Argentine mining district. Argentine Peak (13,738 feet) was named after the Latin word argentum, meaning silver, and the ruins of area mines are plentiful throughout the Peru Creek watershed.

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Hike a classic Summit County trail to Upper Cataract Lake

July 19, 2015 — 

Upper Cataract Lake is located south of Mount Powell (13,534 feet), below the Eagles Nest for which Eaglesnest Wilderness Area is named. It forms a tributary for the stream of Cataract Creek that flows down a series of steep, rocky cliffs to Lower Cataract Lake. The hike requires about six hours of hiking over 10.5 miles of trail, with an elevation gain of 2,000 vertical feet, from 8,600 feet to 10,740 feet.

While the ascent is fairly typical of the steep climbs throughout Summit County, the trail is rough, rocky and eroded across a couple of miles above the softer trail among the aspen meadows at lower elevations. The distance and elevation gain make this a rigorous day hike. Backcountry camping is available at several lakes in the vicinity, including Surprise Lake, Cat Lake, Tipperary Lake and Upper Cataract Lake, as well as Mirror Lake, located a couple of miles west of Upper Cataract Lake.

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Summit County hiker: Aspens and wildflowers on the hike to Surprise Lake

July 25, 2015 — 

Surprise Lake is located north of Dora Mountain (12,119 feet) on a tributary to Otter Creek that flows into Green Mountain Reservoir. A day hike to the lake and back to the trailhead is 6 miles and takes only three to four hours. The elevation profile goes from 8,600 feet at the Cataract Creek crossing near the Surprise Lake Trailhead to 10,040 feet at the lake (1,400 vertical feet) for a typical intermediate hike in Summit County.

An alternative loop hike to Tipperary Lake on the Gore Range Trail, crossing the upper portion of Cataract Creek and descending on the Eaglesmere Trail, involves 9 miles and six hours of hiking. Despite the good quality of the trail and a nearly level plateau once Surprise Lake is gained, only high-endurance hikers should attempt to full loop.

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Webster Pass Road traces the Snake River to its headwaters at Teller Mountain

August 1, 2015 — 

Webster Pass Road ascends to the sources of the Snake River, streams from the slopes of Sullivan Mountain (13,134 feet), Landslide Peak (13,238 feet), Red Cone (12,801 feet), Handcart Peak (12,518 feet) and Teller Mountain (12,602 feet), all found along the Continental Divide.

A loop hike beginning at Webster Pass Road and passing northeast through the Snake River watershed to the ridgeline of Teller Mountain involves an intermediate ascent of 2,300 feet across 4.75 miles, with a total distance of 9 miles and three to four hours of hiking if the loop is completed down Deer Creek Road.

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Local Hiking Trails Summit: The magnificent amphitheater of Mayflower Gulch

August 8, 2015 — 

Nestled in the magnificent amphitheater below the ragged crest of Fletcher Mountain (13,951 feet), the ruins of the failed Boston Mining Company gold digs remain among a meadow of wetland wildflowers. Mayflower Gulch is one of the favorite easy local hiking trails in Summit County. Located on the west side of the Ten Mile Range, convenient access to the Mayflower Gulch Trail makes this a busy trail for summer hiking as well as winter backcountry recreation. The hike involves a gradual ascent of 2 miles from 10,990 feet to 12,000 feet on an old mining road. Providing time for exploration and photographs, the hike can be completed within two hours.

Wildflowers are abundant in the wetlands on the north side of the road, bordering Mayflower Creek. Globeflower, elephant tusk, cinquefoil, lousewort, alpine smelowskia, bistort, paintbrush, chiming bells, columbine, arnica, beardtongue, alpine clover, and mountain goldenrod grow thick in the fertile fields of the valley.

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Hike Summit: Find high-alpine serenity below Red Peak at Willow Lakes

September 11, 2015 — 

The Willow Lakes of the Gore Range are one of my favorite day-hike destinations in the state of Colorado. The lakes are nestled in the North Willow Creek watershed, surrounded by the sharp, ragged ridge of Red Peak (13,189 feet) to the south and Willow Peak (13,333 feet) forming the wall of the bowl to the north.

The hike is beyond intermediate, with an elevation gain of 2,400 feet (9,000 to 11,400 feet) and a strenuous distance of 13 to 18 miles, depending on the access route you choose. The effort is well rewarded, with an abundance of wildflowers and several alpine pools set against a dramatic rock wall backdrop. Give yourself eight hours of daylight to enjoy the hike.

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Hike Summit: Argentine Pass Trail near Keystone

August 30, 2015 — 

Dating back to 1869 as a transportation corridor, the Argentine Pass Trail is actually the remnant trace of a wagon toll road from Georgetown to mining camps on the western slope of the Continental Divide.

In 1864, five years before the road was developed, silver deposits were found on the slopes of McClellan Mountain (13,587 feet), found 2 miles north of an area later named Argentine mining district. Argentine Peak (13,738 feet) was named after the Latin word argentum, meaning silver, and the ruins of area mines are plentiful throughout the Peru Creek watershed.

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Hiking Guide: Explosive views on the Lenawee Trail

September 5, 2015 — 

The Lenawee Trail offers a glimpse of fall colors as it ascends through groves of young aspen regenerating in the constant upheaval of avalanche flows down the steep slopes of Lenawee Mountain (13,204 feet). About 1.5 miles up the trail at 11,500 feet of elevation, near tree-line, the Lenawee Trail offers expansive views of the area. From the upper trail, Dillon Reservoir of the Gore Range and the Ten-Mile Range lie in the distance west of the Snake River Valley. The ridgeline of Lenawee Mountain from 12,550 feet to 13,200 feet overlooks Arapahoe Basin Ski Area and Loveland Pass on the Continental Divide.

Immediately west of Lenawee Mountain is the ridge of Porcupine Peak (11,803 feet) that forms the wall of Montezuma Bowl. Grizzly Peak (13,427 feet) forms the north portion of the East Wall beyond the Lenawee Mountain chutes at Arapahoe Basin. Directly north of Lenawee Mountain, Highway 6 ascends on sharp switchbacks to Loveland Pass (11,980 feet). East of Lenawee Mountain, and out-of-sight unless you climb to the summit, are the 14er twins Grays Peak (14,267 feet), the southern mountain, and Torreys Peak (14,270 feet), across the saddle to the north.

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Colorado Wildflower Hiking Guide to Summit County, Colorado

July 11, 2015 — 

Jane Hendrix is a friend of the flowers. Her knowledge of plants in Summit County and beyond is extensive, and her commitment to the well-being of the wildflowers is one of true affection.

“When I first started learning the wildflowers, I noticed the big, showy wildflowers, and I didn’t notice the little ones,” she said. “But now, my favorite wildflower is the next one I see.”

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Colorado Hiking: South Willow Falls

July 11, 2015 — 

South Willow Falls is located in the valley between the steep, rocky slopes of Red Peak (13,189 feet) and Buffalo Mountain (12,777 feet). The pass itself is part of a ridge over the amphitheater bowl that lies west of Buffalo Mountain. South Willow Creek forms from the tributary brooks pouring out of the great bowl of dense evergreen forest west of Buffalo Mountain.

The hike is intermediate in grade, rising and descending a few hundred feet as it follows the base of Buffalo Mountain for 1.5 miles. South Willow Falls is two miles from the Buffalo Cabin Trailhead, with about 500 feet of elevation for a profile ¬—an easy day hike by mountain standards.

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Summit County, Colorado Blue River Campground Guide

July 10, 2015 — 

Rain, rain, go away — it’s camping season.

Then again, rain in the High Country is a given, just like the occasional snowstorm in late May or long, bone-dry stretches at the start of August. Mother Nature doesn’t follow the rules in the Rocky Mountains, and, more often than not, camping junkies just have to roll with the rainstorms.

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Camping Colorado With Kids

July 10, 2015 — 

There’s been a lot of chatter about the benefits of unstructured playtime outside for kids, away from screens, homework and school activities. For parents who spend the majority of their time strapped to a chair and a computer during the week, unplugged time is just as essential. A weekend spent camping in the outdoors might be in order. For parents of little ones, the idea might seem daunting. Plenty of local families not only do it but do it well. Three local moms shared their tried-and-true tips for camping with kids.

SIMPLIFY

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Camping in Summit is best when you bring a chef, Boy Scout, gear junkie and jester

July 1, 2015 — 

There are many ways to camp. There’s car camping, which does not necessarily entail camping in a car, as the name suggests. There is backpacking, which can take place over one night or extend for several days. There is close-to-home camping and travel-to-a-destination camping. However, though there are many different types of camping, there is one element that is crucial for a successful trip: your camping companions.

These are the folks who will not only make sure that you eat, but that you also eat really well. It’s the person who not only knows where to hike, but where to find the most beautiful, unpopulated trails or campsites — and, the individual who may have no other discernible talent other than doing silly things and bringing the beverages. To ensure a most successful camping experience, be sure that the following cadre of companions accompany you on your journey: the campfire gourmand, the Boy/Girl Scout, the good-time Charlie, the gear junkie and the llama whisperer.

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Mohawk Lakes Hiking Trail outside of Breckenridge, CO

June 28, 2015 — 

Lower Mohawk Lake is located in the Spruce Creek Trailhead south of Breckenridge. The lake is nestled in a deep amphitheater formed by Pacific Peak, 13,950 feet, and Mount Helen, 13,165 feet, in the Ten Mile Range. The hike is an intermediate ascent of 1,400 vertical feet, with a total distance of 6.6 miles from the Spruce Creek Trailhead. The elevation of Spruce Creek Trailhead is 10,400 feet, a thousand feet below tree line, while Mohawk Lakes are surrounded by rocky tundra and krumholz. The Mohawk Lakes Trail provides access to an area with dramatic waterfalls, rich fields of wildflowers, and relics of the mining era.

Allow at least five hours to explore the area and plan to descend in early afternoon to avoid the frequent thunderstorms that tend to form over the mountains later in the day. Carry two bottles of water to remain hydrated during the hike or pack a water filter to take water from the stream. Be prepared to find a crowd of hikers on this popular trail, accompanied by many free-roaming hunting dogs.

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Artist Nathan Downey combines art with his passion for climbing 14ers

October 18, 2013 — 

A native of Evergreen, Nathan Downey grew up climbing mountains. His father got him started, and he’s been at it ever since.

It’s no surprise, then, that he’s caught what he calls “the 14ers achievement syndrome,” a desire that drives him and hundreds of other climbers to seek out the state’s tallest mountains (those with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet) and match his wits and will against their steep summits.

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Women's running apparel roundup: multiple outfits for multi-leg races

September 27, 2013 — 
Running 198 miles through the wilderness at high elevation, in unpredictable weather, through the darkness, surviving on little to no sleep ... shockingly sounds rather appealing to some adventurists.

For those seeking a new way to achieve the “runner’s high” these races are just the ticket. Multi-leg relay races are another subset of the running craze. The increased participation in the sport of running has gone past marathons and ultras and into “fun-runs,” mud-runs, obstacle courses and multi-leg or even multi-day races. These races push your comfort zone and challenge you both physically and mentally. Prepping for an intense multi-leg race can be an invigorating and exciting journey. Increasing your mileage, adding hill climbs, training at elevation and adjusting your caloric intake accordingly are all part of the process.

So when it comes to the list of things you need to keep track of on race day, apparel should be the least of your worries. We’ve compiled three complete outfits to take you through your multi-leg race journey. These trail-tested items will carry you through sun, rain, cold and darkness, all while looking stylishly swift.

For a midday leg with the intense mountain sun glaring down, we’ve created an outfit to keep you cool and collected during your race.

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Multi-leg relay running: More women's running gear for fall

October 4, 2013 —  Editor’s note: These are the second and third parts to a three-part story about women’s running apparel for the fall. To read the first part, which ran in the Summit Daily on Sept. 28, visit www.summitdaily.com.

Running 198 miles through the wilderness at high elevation, in unpredictable weather, through the darkness, surviving on little to no sleep ... shockingly sounds rather appealing to some adventurists. For those seeking a new way to achieve the “runner’s high,” these races are just the ticket. Multi-leg relay races are another subset of the running craze. These races push your comfort zone and challenge you both physically and mentally.

So when it comes to the list of things you need to keep track of on race day, apparel should be the least of your worries. We’ve compiled three complete outfits to take you through your multi-leg race journey. These trail tested and approved items will carry you through sun, rain, cold and darkness, all while looking stylishly swift.

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Summit County trail and leash etiquette for dogs and hikers

August 30, 2013 — 

As the sunny summer weather continues, the more people will be out and about, taking advantage of Summit County’s miles and miles of trails, especially during the long Labor Day weekend. For many, spending time outdoors involves spending time with pets, taking them out of the backyard and out on those same trails.

Dogs are great hiking companions and inarguably part of any Summit County outdoor occasion. Visitors, too, love to bring their pups along and give them a taste of mountain living. While it’s perfectly acceptable to bring a four-legged companion along on an outdoor occasion, it’s also important to remember that there are rules in place to ensure the safety everyone involved — people, pets and wildlife.

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Rain means mushroom season is on

August 2, 2013 — 

The rainy season is upon us at last. Skies open on a near daily basis, drenching anyone caught out in a cloudburst, followed by the reward of steamy rainbows fronting the sunlight that inevitably streams through. It’s a happy time of year for mushrooms, which flush into variously colored and shaped fruiting bodies from sometimes miles-long mycelium when the earth is warm and wet. Likewise, it’s a magical time for mushroom hunters, who will range long and far, through storm and mud, in search of so many surprises.

There are the slippery, gelatinous brown-capped Suillus with their soft, yellow, pore-sponge undersides; peach-colored, blue-staining Lactarius deliciosus; Morchella, the elusive black High Country morel; chanterelles of the genus Cantharellus; puffballs of the generas Calvatia and Lycoperdon and, of course, Boletus edulis, or porcini, the king of kings, with its firm, wine-red cap, bulbous legs and white fish-net stockings. All of these mushrooms are edible, each prepared in its own way.

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Backcountry sleepover: Hike or bike to a Summit Hut this summer

July 27, 2013 — 

When your hiking or mountain biking destination is a hut, the adventure is definitely not just about the journey. Summer is a great time to experience the more remote areas of the mountains, and the Summit Huts Association — a nonprofit organization based in Breckenridge — can make your backcountry accommodations a little more rustic.

“We would really like to introduce more people to the experience of the huts in the summertime,” said Mike Zobbe, executive director of the Summit Huts Association. “Many of the summer hut guests don’t think of the summer hut experience as a backpacking experience. But it is similar, and you can travel quite a bit lighter.”

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Re-vamped, expanded and in full color

November 15, 2013 — 

When Mary Ellen Gilliland arrived in Summit County 43 years ago, it was quite a different place than it is today. It was “before there was I-70 or a stoplight or a grocery store or anything,” she said. “It was wonderful, so much open space and so much untouched beauty.”

While a lot may have changed since then, the beauty of the area has not, and it continues to draw visitors from all over the world. It’s no wonder, then, that Gilliland’s “The Summit Hiker,” a guidebook for trails and fishing spots, consistently ranks as the best-selling book in the county.

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