Archive for the ‘Outdoors’ Category

Two Years Ago

It’s been two years today that the Waldo Canyon fire exploded in Colorado Springs. As it unfolded people began to understand the serious nature of the beast that was closing highways and threatening the Air Force Academy. I can remember watching twitter with up to date posts and images with a feeling of sadness and dread as the lines and barriers were blown through by blazing flames. The news crews became emotional as the night wore on with the reality of what they were reporting on became clear – it was a literal armageddon for some communities as homes burned and people fled as fast as they could.

It is a stark reminder now as we enjoy rain and cooler temperatures that the power of nature and the destructive flames are not so far removed from us – some years we get lucky and others we suffer. Let us hope this year remains as fire free as possible.

Pints for the People, Wednesdays at Upslope Brewery

Upslope Brewing Company logoSpeaking of new(ish) establishments in Uptown Boulder, there’s Upslope Brewing Company. Located way up there at 1501 Lee Hill Road, “Boulder’s Newest Brewery” joins Oskar Blues in offering microbrew in the can, not just because they can, but because today’s on-the-go biking-jogging-mountainsporting afficionado/a of hand-crafted ale demands no less! As their website puts it,

The teaming of fine ales in cans allows Upslope’s products to be mobile and easily part of an active lifestyle. Shared with friends after a long mountain bike ride, enjoyed at the end of skinning up and skiing down a snowy trail, or ordered in a local pub, Upslope is a natural fit for the active beer consumer living in the Front Range and Western Slope of Colorado.

(Put together Upslope with Amante, and it seems North Boulder is developing into the main intersection between sports and fine alcoholic products.)

But the reason I’m bothering telling you so is not just because I only just discovered Upslope (though that is exciting!), but because of the circumstances under which I discovered it. I got a Facebook invite to their ongoing Pints for the People event. Every Wednesday, Upslope will donate a dollar for every pint sold to a local non-profit organization. This month (July, 2010), that organization will be There With Care.

Our mission is to provide a range of practical services for children and families facing critical illness in order to ease the burden of life’s day-to-day obligations during a medical crisis. We do this by building strong relationships with local hospitals, business owners, professionals, and community volunteers, who share in the care of the entire family during emotionally, financially, and physically challenging times.

A good brew makes benefits easy. Raise your pint in the knowledge that you’re helping a good cause. If I may be forgiven the pun, that’s truly “putting your money where your stout is.”

Parking spaces become human spaces in downtown Boulder

The construction equipment trucks were making the rounds this morning, heading slowly down Pearl Street and turning the corner on 14th. At certain businesses, here and there, they stopped to unload chevron-style barricades and orange traffic cones. They erected barriers around those parking spaces labeled “Special Event 10AM – 2PM”. Business owners and staff waved their thanks–and began making magic happen inside the barricades.

In front of 14th Street businesses Tee & Cakes, Cefiori, and Kristen Lewis Architects, tall pennant-style flags went up on telescoping poles. Real grass turf unrolled to turn four angled parking spaces into a barefoot-inviting lawn. Deck chairs and picnic tables under a portable shade tent presented coffee, cupcakes, and information about the solar power that was chilling the spring water in the wagon parked to the side.

It was all part of Park(ing) Spaces Day in Boulder, when businesses reclaimed parking spaces and showed how they could accommodate humans rather than cars for a few hours. The resulting atmosphere was something like a sidewalk sale, what with the free samples and discounts and informational brochures, but also something like Earth Day, what with the theme of ecologically responsible practices. And of course the whole celebration was part of the annual Walk & Bike Month festivities, which will be going on all during June. Bike to Work Day, specifically, will be June 22. (More about that as we get closer to the date.)

Park(ing) Spaces exhibits will be up until 2:00 PM today. The Cycling in Boulder blog has made a map available showing where all the exhibits are; there’s also a list up at both the Tee & Cakes blog entry and the event announcement previously linked. Get out there and enjoy it before everyone packs up and goes back to parking as usual!

Bears By the Cottage Door

Welded bear sculpture and shed door

Welded bear sculpture and shed door

Construction on the east side of 30th Street at Pearl has made the walk from my house down to Walnut Plaza a bit of an obstacle course. So I’ve been doing a bit of “urban bushwhacking” instead–going off sidewalks, out the backs of parking lots, sight-seeing in the industrial mini-districts of near-east Boulder.

Today I followed the train tracks south from Valmont. These bears are sitting beside the tracks on the south side of pearl, in a lot I tend to think of as “The Gay Stoner Shipping Yard.” There used to be a pale blue shipping container sitting here, labeled with low-tech block stick-on letters that spelled out something like “GA STONE” or “GAL STONE COMPANY.” Some wit with a paint can made the obvious alteration.

The shipping container is gone, along with whatever company it pertained to. Now there are bears: Welded iron bears with glass stone eyes. And a bunch of free-standing shed and yard equipment that may have escaped from the Sutherlands yard or perhaps from somewhere more exotic.

Bears! One of the many wonders brought to you by Feet!

Welded bear sculpture

Welded bear sculpture

Oktoberfest Options!

It is that time of year – the leaves change and the beer flows! We have had the opportunity to try a couple this year and last and decided to pull it all together!

Vail Breckenride Larimer
Date 1 Sept 11,12,13 Sept 19,20 Sept 18,19,20
Date 2 Sept 25,26,27
Hours Friday 5pm-10pm

Saturday 12pm-10pm

Sunday 12pm-6pm

Saturday 11-6

Sunday 11-5

Friday 5pm-1am
Saturday 11am-1am

Sunday 11am-5pm

Ticket Price $1 $5 N/A
Tickets for Beer 5 1 N/A
Tickets for Food cash/tickets Cash Cash/Credit
Stein There are steins, but I didn’t see the price. $25 – 1/2 liter, plus 2 tickets Unknown
Ability to Get Beer Easier to reach the tents Waaaay too crowded, really long lines. Unkown
Parking Free bus around vail, free structure parking in the summer Gondola parking lot, fills up quickly Street parking or local lots
Stein There are steins, but I didn’t see the price. $25 – 1/2 liter, plus 2 tickets Unknown
Food Choices Lots of different choices Hot links, brauts, pretzels 2 tents worth
Websites Vail Breck Larimer
Beer Becks Paulaner, Breckenridge Brewery Paulaner

Table Tutorial

Torreys Peak

Diane and I have done quite a bit of hiking over the last several months.  The idea was to get in shape to do our first 14er – after I turned 50.  I thought I was in pretty good shape – until I was put to the test by Torreys Peak.

Torreys is supposed to be one of the easier 14ers and many people summit both Torreys Peak and Grays Peak on the same day.  Now, maybe I am overreacting because we did hike about 10 miles the day before near Mount Evans on the Chicago Lakes Trail.  In retrospect, we probably overdid it and should have taken it easy the day before attempting Torreys Peak.  We probably should have gone to bed early and relaxed that evening, but we didn’t.  And did we pay….

Bill, Ben, Diane and Dan with Torreys Peak in the Background

Bill, Ben, Diane and Dan with Torreys Peak in the Background

Fortunately, we did make it to the top.  But it wasn’t easy.  My 17-year old son and his friend came with us and they scampered up the hill like mountain goats.  They were often waiting impatiently as we dragged our sorry butts up to their resting spot and then they just took off again like it was nothing.

Shortly before the summit we went through a short snow bank near the top and dealt with some pretty harsh winds as we crossed the saddle between Grays and Torreys.  The winds were so strong that our friend almost turned back because he was having trouble keeping his contacts in with the wind, but he hung in there.  Then a short climb to the summit and we were there.

Beautiful!  Love those 360 degree views.  I can see why so many people are enamored with climbing 14ers.

What a feeling!  What an accomplishment!

The climb down was fairly easy.  Your feet take a pounding, but your lungs and thighs have a well-deserved respite.

I plan to do it again, but I learned my lesson.  Next time, I will take it easy the day before!

Hiking In and Around Mount Evans

Lincoln Lake Trail

Yesterday, we went for an extended excursion on the trail from Echo Lake to Lincoln Lake.  The hike is about seven miles each way and took us about seven hours.  We stopped for lunch and for an extended break at Lincoln Lake.  It was worth every mile and every minute.  Lincoln Lake is beautiful.  It is nestled on the side of Mount Evans.  The water is crystal clear and the trout were jumping.

Lincoln Lake

Lincoln Lake

The trail starts with a brief climb up from the Echo Lake campground, followed by about a mile long drop.  The rest of the way is a slow steady climb up to Lincoln Lake.  Most of the way is through pine forest but just before the turnoff to Lincoln Lake, it opens up into an old burn area with lots of beautiful silvery-gray gnarled dead trees coming up out of a grassy meadow.  The grass and underbrush was starting to show some nice fall color.  In fact, the mountains in the distance looked almost orange below treeline from the combination of green and red grass and brush.  It was beautiful.

We left at about 11:00 and got back just after 6:00.  We saw a total of seven people on the trail.  One couple got to Lincoln Lake shortly after us.  We passed another couple and then a solo hiker who were returning about a mile before we got to the lake.  Then, on our way back, we passed a couple of backpackers who were heading out to camp for the night.  On the whole it was extremely quiet and we had the trail – and the forest – to ourselves.

Chicago Lakes Trail

About a month ago, we hiked the Chicago Lakes trail with a good friend who was visiting from Washington, D.C.  We estimated that hike to be about 10-11 miles (round trip) with about 1,700 feet in elevation gain (although with the initial down and then up, the number was probably closer to 2,000 total elevation gain.

The Chicago Lakes trail was one of the most beautiful hikes we have ever done in Colorado – and certainly the most impressive of the summer.  With all the rain we have been having, the fauna was still very green.

The First of the Chicago Lakes

The First of the Chicago Lakes

The initial climb of about a mile opened up to the Idaho Springs reservoir.  We stopped there for a little bit, but there were a lot of people coming and going, so we quickly moved on.  There were more people further on up the trail, but it definitely thinned out.

We thought about turning around about a mile before the first of the Chicago Lakes because we were planning to hike Torreys Peak the next day, but we pressed on.  When we finally made it to the Lakes the beauty of the scenery made it all worthwhile.  That is one hike that definitely want to do again.

Hells Hole

We do have one more hike in the Mount Evans area planned for later this fall when the aspen start to turn.  That is Hells Hole.  Good friends of ours have done it in previous years when the aspen  were peaking and rave about it.   Their pictures back up their story.  I can’t wait!

What are you doing for Labor Day in Denver?

There are so many things to do this weekend, i don’t even know where to start!

First Friday –

it’s every first friday – but why not go since you have an extra day off this weekend?

Santa Fe, RINO and Golden Triangle – I love first friday! A bunch of people get together and look at some really cool art!

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The Taste of Colorado

So many restaurants, such good food, a wonderful time to spend an evening or a day!

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Sniagrab –

going on

The World’s Largest Ski and Snowboard Sale – At Sports Authority! We have yet to get our buts there – but I hear the deals are phenominal!

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Ski REx

Starts Saturday but has a VIP day today (Friday) – just sign up for their mailing list and you get a ticket to get in!

Ski Rex

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Cirque de Soleil

– many deals –

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Flobots bowling

They are bowling for Charity this Friday!!! You could bowl with them!

Where will you be this weekend?

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains!

Last month a friend came to visit for the weekend and we decided we should explore those big pointy things with white stuff on the top… (Rocky Mountain National Park)

MiniMapRMNP

I had a national park pass from a trip to the Grand Canyon a couple months ago so i got in for “free”.

Keep a look out – they had a few “free entry” weekends throughout the summer – that’s cool!

We headed in through the entrance by Estes Park.  I wanted to make sure that my friend could handle the larger altitude change – she was from sea level, so we had our bag lunch by one of the water falls.

After that, we headed down toward Bear Lake for some not too strenous hiking! Obviously the easy hikes and easily accessible areas will be the most populated. Rocky Mt NP has created a huge parking lot and a shuttle system to get you around the heavily traveled areas.

I must say I am very impressed with ease of transit, the limited wait times for the buses, and the ability to get away from the crowds! We did the mile-ish hike to Alberta Falls

And then the trail around Bear Lake. It was a beautiful walk/hike.

It’s a neat place to bring visitors or just head in yourself!

It is right there – under 2 hours from Denver… Seriously – go take a look!

I can’t wait to get up there and find some other hikes and enjoy more of what Colorado has to offer!

Bear Visits Our Foothills Home

Black Bear eating birdseed in Morrison/Evergreen, CO

Black Bear eating birdseed in Morrison/Evergreen, CO

Thursday morning at 2:00 am, my wife pushed me out of bed when one of our bird feeders crashed to the ground.  I am a deep sleeper and didn’t hear a thing, but I dutifully got up and walked groggily to the window to see what was up.

I found a bear crouching on the edge of our patio scooping up all the bird seed.  With my heart racing and adrenaline pumping I checked the sliding glass doors which we sometimes leave open.  Fortunately, they were closed and the bear didn’t seem to care about me.  Then I went for the camera and was able to get this photo before my wife told me to stop taking pictures and get that bear out of her garden…

I am not much of a match for a 400 lb black bear, but I grabbed the first thing I could find – a broom – and started to open the sliding glass door.  Fortunately, the bear was more afraid of me than I was of him.  He hopped over the wall and climbed a big pine tree about fifteen feet away.

By this time, my whole house was up and gawking.  One of our dogs got out and was racing around our deck barking her head off (fortunately, she never got close to the bear).  We all watched the bear watch us from the tree for the next 15 minutes.  It kept snorting and huffing – I assume to warn us to stay away – although we didn’t need much encouragement.  I kept my eyes on him while I made a few short dashes out to collect our bird feeders and sweep away the remains of the bird seed that he had started eating.

Finally, he climbed down the tree and ambled away.

We have lived in the foothills of Conifer and Evergreen for fifteen years and have seen several bears and even a mountain lion.  We just returned from a trip to Alaska where we saw lots of black bears and brown bears eating salmon, but this one was a little close to home.  I haven’t started looking for a realtor yet, but you never know.

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