Monday, August 21, 2017

Colorado Campground, Woodland Park, CO


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In 2010 we spent a couple weeks near Woodland Park, CO at South Meadows, a forest service campground just a few miles north of town. We liked the area and it’s only 57 miles to our friends’ house in Littleton where Jim had his bike shipped, so we thought it would be a great place to stay. Unfortunately, when we got to South Meadows we had absolutely no phone or internet, using either Verizon or AT&T. Also there were no sites open that offered much in the way of sun. We parked the rig and took the car for a drive where we got lucky and found the Colorado campground just a mile north, where we have 1-2 bars of 4G. And we got even luckier by finding one of only two sites with electric, and it was a non-reserve site and vacant. No need to worry about solar.

Our view isn’t very exciting but we have a big private back yard, and although the road is just beyond the fence it isn’t all that busy so we are happy. With electric it’s only $13/night with the senior pass. A typical forest service campground with vault toilets and nearby non-threaded water spigots. And the 7 mile Centennial trail. a paved bike path, is right across the road. Sadly it has been neglected and is full of cracks and weeds, so not the best trail to bike on.

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We’ve done a little experimenting with the Canon SX40 camera our friends sent us. They didn’t care for it because it’s hard to hold still and get it to focus properly when using the zoom, but we are going to play with it for awhile and see what we think. Before we left we took one last hike on the trail behind the campground overlooking Dillon Reservoir to take some shots and see how it did. One thing we didn’t like about the Lumix was that the sky always looked a bit turquoise, and blues and purples never looked quite right, but the colors seem pretty natural with this one.

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Playing with the zoom.

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We could barely see the sailboat below on the left.

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But there it was. This camera has a 35X optical zoom, and a whopping 140X digital zoom, but that really requires steady hands or a tripod.

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Jim was curious as to how well he could see the boats at the Frisco marina.

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Pretty amazing considering how far away we were.

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Max zoom. Not too bad, really.

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Back to our current location, there is a half-mile trail to Manitou Lake, which continues on and loops back along Trout Creek and around the lake. More photos from the new camera.

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A little detour to “Painted Rocks”,  some fine red rocks that seem a bit out of place.

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We drove up to Littleton on Wednesday to pick up Jim’s bike at Casey’s house. The plan was to leave the mountain bike with him to sell if it wasn’t sold before then, but it turned out that our friend Suzanne wanted the bike so we didn’t have to do that. After riding the recumbent, though, Jim was thinking he might also want to keep the mountain bike, so we brainstormed ways to carry three bikes, which isn’t easy short of buying a new rack for many hundreds of dollars. After another ride on the mountain bike yesterday he remembered how much he hates riding an upright bike, so we are shipping it to Suzanne today.

The recumbent was packed by a bike shop and they pretty much took everything off. It was quite challenging putting it back together but somehow we figured it out over the course of many hours in between a couple of thunderstorms. It was a good learning experience and a lesson in patience.

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Recumbent bike chains are incredibly long and it got all twisted up in the bag it was packed in.

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We got it put together and everything actually worked without too much adjusting.

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This is a titanium Barcroft Virginia.  We both had the cro-moly version of this bike many years ago and really liked it, and were surprised at how much lighter the titanium one is.

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We also spent a couple hours at Angletech, a recumbent bike and trike shop in Colorado Springs, so Jim could look at different handlebar set-ups as he isn’t crazy about what’s on this bike. We got to try out several other recumbents and a trike there, which was lots of fun and makes me want to get one, too. But that will have to wait until we settle down somewhere one of these days, or get a big truck to carry everything in. While I was working on this post Jim showed me a possibility for our next bikes. Check this out, no more sore butts!

In between bike business we took a hike in Woodland Park on the Lovell Gulch Loop, just under 6 miles with much of it in the shade of the forest. We’ve been spoiled by hiking at higher elevations above tree-line lately, so although we got up to 9,300’ the views were limited. Lots of flowers were still in bloom, and we met a nice couple who were hunting mushrooms and told us there are only two varieties in Colorado that can kill you, and they are both white. They said it’s been such a rainy summer they are in abundance this year. After talking with them we began finding fungi all along the trail but left them for others. I’ll stick to the ones rom the grocery store.

Some scenes from the trail.

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We stopped for a snack and saw these two women on horseback coming up the trail. For a Saturday morning we were surprised that we only saw four other people hiking.

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Wildlife sightings.

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Hazy view of Pike’s Peak.

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With all the hype I know it sounds almost sacrilegious to say, but we have no interest in viewing the eclipse today, a good thing since they are saying clouds should roll in around that time. We do look forward to seeing all the great photos that will be floating around on the web after it’s over, though. And we’ve decided to hang out here for another week. With the frequent overcast skies, rain, and tree cover, we are enjoying our electric hook-up and there is plenty to keep us busy in the area.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Loveland Pass, Colorado Classic, and Moving On


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Our neighbors rode their bikes up Loveland Pass Rd last week, not something we had any intention of doing, but it sounded like a nice scenic drive with a couple of hiking trails at the top. This is the road that hazmat vehicles have to take to avoid the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 but otherwise isn’t heavily traveled.

Another shot-up sign greeted us at the trailhead.

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Yes, it was almost noon when we made our way up the long and winding road up to the pass, but there were only a few dark clouds so we headed off on the West Ridge trail, which actually goes along the ridge of the Continental Divide.

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These photos don’t give any hint of how windy and cold it was up there. 55 degrees but with the wind chill it had to have been in the 40s based on our freezing hands and ears.

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Jim was ready to turn around but I wanted to keep going and he reluctantly did, too.

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Looking back towards the parking area you can see a trail on the east side of the road that goes to Mount Sniktau and Grizzly Peak, 3 miles to a 13er with 2,900’ of elevation gain, which is why we hiked on the “easy” side.

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I finally got a photo of a pika that was close enough for me to capture with my 10x zoom. They are very vocal little creatures, herbivores that only live in mountainous areas between 8-000-13,000’. Here is an interesting article about how pikas are being affected by global warming.

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Once we got up the very steep trail at the beginning, it continued along the ridge with more gentle ups and downs.

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Also views of the ski runs at Keystone.

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It was absolutely gorgeous up there but the wind was brutal, and after a mile the skies began darkening so we thought it best to turn back.

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This is not a place you would want to be caught out in a thunderstorm.

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On the way home I remembered reading about a lake near the pass, and when I spotted a forest service road and small parking lot I thought that might be it. We turned down it and sure enough there was not only one, but three small lakes.

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The other two lakes are only visible if you walk the trail past the first one.

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More idyllic Colorado scenery, and an easy hike of about a mile. There were a couple people fishing and that was it.

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On Friday we spent the day in Breckenridge to watch stage 2 of the Colorado Classic bike race. After dealing with traffic to get to a big parking lot near the gondola, there was a “full” sign. Since we had already pulled in we drove up to the gate and the man said there were spaces available so we paid our $10. Wonder how many cars turned around thinking there was no parking.

We walked along the Blue River to get to our lunch destination, where they were giving awards for the winners of the woman’s race that had just ended.

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We passed this cute bar/restaurant called The Dredge, billed as the world’s highest floating restaurant. It’s only open for dinner.

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The men’s race started at 2, so we had about an hour for lunch at Piante Pizzeria, serving all plant-based, wood-fired gourmet pizzas. They even put plants in the water.

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We got the Pesto, which is kale-walnut pesto topped with sundried tomatoes, red onions, artichoke hearts and cashew cheese, an excellent vegan pizza.

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We wanted to get up to Moonstone Hill to watch the cyclists on the climb, since that is where all the action was supposed to be. A volunteer gave us directions to a very steep hiking trail that was a shortcut to get up the hill. There’s a great view of the ski runs from the trail.

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By the time we made it up to Moonstone the riders had been by twice, since they were doing a 10k circuit 10 times around. There was loud music, people in costumes, and dancing.

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Bike races are high energy events, not just for the riders but also for the spectators. When the police and course marshal cars start coming by, the riders are soon to follow.

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Here they come.

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As the riders pass by, people ring cow bells, clap, and cheer them on. Cycling is really better watched on TV as you get to see all of the race rather than just a few seconds, which is why we wanted to be on the hill, since they aren’t riding as fast.

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The team support crews follow the riders.

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Some people run along with the riders as they go by, and they are usually in costume of some kind.

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Or not!

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We walked back down along the course road to get to see the riders at different points along the way.

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This is the finish line, but we left with two more laps to go since we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and it was starting to rain. It was a fun afternoon.

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We didn’t end up making it to the Leadville 100 mountain bike race on Saturday, but our friend Terry raced although he still wasn’t feeling great, and completed the 100 miles in 9 hours. That’s pretty impressive! The record is just over 6 hours and the cut-off time is 12 hours. I can’t believe anyone can ride a bike on trails for that many miles and that many hours at a time, but he’s already planning to do it again next year.

On Saturday the camera our friends sent arrived, and on Monday we packed up and moved south over 3 mountain passes and 100 miles to Woodland Park, CO. Today we pick up Jim’s new bike, but more about all of that next time.