Maxwell Falls Hike

Above the Falls

maxwell-falls-5The Battle Wagon left Denver around 6:30a and arrived at the Lower Trailhead parking lot at 7:45a, taking the last empty spot. I geared up and hit the trail.

It was a steady uphill in the shade for the first half-mile. At first I was enjoying the quiet and lack of crowds, but then I started wondering if there was potential for being breakfast for a mountain lion. I soon passed some hikers and assumed the mountain lions would opt for the stragglers. I didn’t see anyone else until I was near the falls, which took about an hour to reach.

I played photographer for some fellow hikers and sat on a rock in what appeared to be a camp site, listening to the sounds and rehydrating. After finishing a Cliff Bar, I applied more sunscreen and headed back down. It was a bluebird day! The temps were mild and comfortable, though I could envision this being brutally hot later on.

This hike was a practice in focusing on the things that I know for a fact (what-is) and turning off my brain from endlessly and painfully mulling over the things that I can’t possibly begin to guess (what-if); a practice in staying present.

Nearing the parking lot, I began to see streams of people ascending, one group of about 20. Another instance where I’m glad I arrived early! Sadly, I was done hiking well before Cuisine of the Himalayas opened for the day. Next time!

Mt. Galbraith Hike

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I got a late start heading to Golden, but I arrived at the Mt. Galbraith parking lot to find it surprisingly full. I was the first car in the overflow parking area and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get moving fast enough to beat a gaggle of cheerleader tweens and their chaperones from starting up the trail. Thankfully (somehow) they made a wrong turn and I was able to pass them a short distance away from the parking lot. This was strangely motivating.

The trail was more difficult than I remembered. A steady uphill with limited shade; I kept reminding myself that the longer I kept moving, the longer I would avoid the heat. The weather report predicted the day’s high would be in the upper 90’s, so I wanted to find shade on the trail before long.

20160611-DSC02134I made my way up the contour of the hill, enjoying the limited views of nearby Golden and a hazy Denver in the background. After much panting and yearning for rest, I reached some shady spots where the trail split. I decided to walk south, uphill in the sun while the temps were reasonable. In retrospect, I should have gone north to enjoy the trail wandering uphill in the shade.

Eventually the trail flattened out some and turned west, providing a lovely view of Mt. Evans in the distance. The “peak” of Galbraith was anticlimactic, and I remembered from my last summit in 2014 that the actual peak had obstructed views (and subsequently made for a poor lunch spot).

Though the east side was a steady downhill, I regretted not bringing my hiking poles with me. On the way down, hikers traveling in the opposite direction warned myself and two other descending hikers of a rattlesnake, something I had been wary of the entire outing. They must have scared the snake off, because despite expert-level trail-scanning, no signs of the rattler were had.

It occurred to me while walking that we’ve reached the time of year where either I need to go to a higher elevation or arrive earlier; the heat was not enjoyable. When I completed the loop and rejoined the main trail back towards the car, I kept hearing gunshots echoing through the valleys below. I hoped there was a shooting range below and I noticed that it detracted from my overall enjoyment of this trail. Towards the end, the trail narrowed and a traffic jam formed, further testing my patience.

When I started hiking, my car reported a temperature of 72 degrees and later showed 82 upon my return. Overall, this not the hike I remembered and therefore not as enjoyable as I was expecting. That said, I think Mt. Galbraith would make an excellent test site for hiking with a full pack, so I may be back in the fall when things cool down.

Doudy Draw – Spring Brook Loop hike

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In preparation for hiking the Nakahechi route of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails later this year, I’m attempting to do a hike every two weeks (or less) in the months leading up to the trip.

IMG_8035To kick off my hiking season, I decided to ease myself back into the swing of things by doing something local. I woke up early on Saturday, grabbed a Cliff Bar, and hit the road to Boulder, arriving at the near-empty parking lot around 7:15a. The air was crisp, but it was sunny and I knew it would warm up soon. I strapped on my boots, sprayed on the obligatory SPF 30, and hit the trail!

It started off as a steady ascent, and the wide, gravel path slowly turned into a rocky but well-worn trail. There were already a half dozen runners and a few bicyclists out taking advantage of the cool temps. As I walked, I marveled at the looming Flatiron mountains and appreciated the wildflowers littering the surrounding grassy foothills, thoroughly enjoying my time of reflection and solitude.

Because the weather was near-perfect and there was plethora of scenery to take in, the hike went by quickly and I was done within two hours. By the time I reached the parking lot again, cars were spilling out into the street trying to park along the road. I happily gave up my prime spot and headed back east to start my day.

Maui Hikes

King’s Highway, 3.1.16

 

Pipiwai Trail, ‘Ohe’o Gulch, Road to Hana, and Charles Lindbergh’s gravesite 3.3.16

Waihee Ridge Trail, 3.4.16

 

Haleakala Crater, 3.5.16