I really can’t think of a better way to start the day than with a nice morning hike. This morning, I took Becca and Elbee to the west side of the trail system that was so muddy on Wednesday. The trail has dried quite a bit, and there are just a few puddles remaining.
First we climbed to the top of Donkey Ridge, and then we picked up the unnamed trail that connects Donkey Ridge to Dutchman’s Way. This trail winds through sage and loads of yellow flowers – sunflowers, butterweed, balsamroot and goldenrod. About six weeks ago, a new trail was made that shoots off of the connector trail. I have no idea where it goes but suspect it is part of a huge new trail system that I’ve been hearing about. I decided to try it out this morning.
The new trail switchbacks steeply through a dense oak forest. There are maple trees peeking out, orange and red amid the glossy green oak leaves, and sulphur yellow boulders rising up like statues in the midst of the sage. It was beautiful – shady, cool and peaceful. The meadowlands are filled with mellow late-season colors. After about a mile and a half, I decided to turn back, because my sore hamstring is still not feeling too great. I definitely aim to hike to the end of this new trail, though. It’s nice to have some unexplored places that are so close to home.
105 minutes, 6 miles. 1 week ago
After work today, Mr. Wren, Becca, Elbee and I went hiking on the Lower Riverview Trail. The sky was thick with thunderclouds, so it was cool and not very sunny. I didn’t pay that much attention to the surrounding because we were talking about all sorts of things, most particularly the current state of horror films.
After the hike, we stopped by the Thursday night farmers’ market, which is quite possibly the crappiest farmers’ market in the world.
3.5 miles, 60 minutes. 1 week ago
This one was in the afternoon with Mr. Wren, Becca, Elbee and I. The sun was shining, and the sky was bright blue with big thunderheads. We went to the east bench trail system, since that is the place that gets the most sun and is therefore the most likely to be dry.
We climbed way up on the Upper Riverview Trail, about 1500 feet in elevation on switchbacks through sage and oak. We then decided to turn around and come back, because the dogs seemed hot and we hadn’t brought water. Near the end of the hike, they enjoyed a nice soak in the creek. Happy dogs.
Speaking of happy dogs, Becca and Elbee are such good hikers, don’t roam too far from me and always come when called, no matter what. I am so glad that they are like that, and I am so glad to have lots of hiking places where my good dogs can hike off leash without people freaking out at me about it.
And one more thing. While we were hiking, Mr. Wren offered to let me wipe my sweaty face on his shirt, which I thought was awfully chivalrous.
110 minutes, 6 miles. 1 week ago
Wow, was it wet. And muddy! And dark. Becca, Elbee and I slipped and slid up the Sage Loop to the 1,000 Turns trail, and then back down to the old mine road. It rained steadily, which made for a lovely soundtrack. The air was fully scented with sage, oak and pine, and all of the colors were made rich by the rain.
The soil here is full of clay, so the trails were really slick. The clay balls up on the bottoms of your boots, and the ground slides beneath your steps. It got pretty tricky on some of the uphill and downhill parts. At one point, it was a lot more like skating than hiking. I’d grab on to a tree branch for some balance, and then a shower of raindrops would fall. I’m amazed that I managed to stay upright.
On the drive home, I spotted a very wet wild turkey and her equally wet youngsters looking for their breakfast. It definitely felt like Autumn.
As expected, we arrived home drenched and muddy. Now a bath is needed!
80 minutes, 4.5 miles. 1 week ago
I’m about to leave for a morning hike now. It’s raining and looks pretty wet. If I’m not able to post about the experience when I get back, let it be known that wren, Becca & Elbee hiked in the mountain rain at 6:30 a.m. on Mr. Wren’s birthday and expect to be quite messy upon our return! 1 week ago
We had a very rainy day today, so I expected that trails would be too muddy for hiking. They weren’t that bad, though.
This evening, Mr. Wren joined Becca, Elbee and I on our hike. We got a late start, so we didn’t go for too long. We climbed up Dutchman’s Way and then took a spur trail back down. The weather was cool and felt of Fall. The mountains were lit by big swaths of sunlight breaking through the clouds, and misty rain fell for most of the walk.
Here’s an interesting thing that I’ve noticed about Elbee. Whenever we get near the end of a hike, within a few hundred feet of the car, Elbee stops to poop. This tells me that she is planning ahead. She knows we’re about to get to the car, so she decides it’s time to take care of business. The idea of a dog planning in advance goes against the usual notion of how dogs are in the world.
Anyway, it was a nice, albeit short, hike. 2.5 miles, 50 minutes. 1 week ago
For the second hike of the day, Becca, Elbee and I went out with Mr. Wren in the late afternoon heat. We did a short loop in the East Bench trail system, which is a good place to hike when it’s hot, because there are a few opportunities for the dogs to get wet and have a drink.
This area is deserty – lots of sage and prickly pears, with the occasional scrub oak thrown in. A couple months ago, all the prickly pears were blooming, and it was a riot of color. The sheep were also grazing, and it was fun to walk through herds of sheep.
Things have quieted down now, but there is still a gorgeous view of the mountain valley that we call home. Jewel green farmlands, a winding river, and Rocky Mountain peaks on all sides.
The sun felt nice on my skin, and we had a quiet walk. Becca managed to get about a jillion burrs in her fur.
3 miles, 1 hour. 2 weeks ago
I woke this morning with a pretty intense headache, a strained hamstring plus some knee pain have been following me around, and Mr. Wren and I will almost certainly enjoy an afternoon hike today, so I decided to start the morning with an easy climb to the top of Burnt Ridge. This wasn’t always an easy climb, but my fitness and endurance have improved over the years.
The trail to Burnt Ridge winds through scrub oak and sage forest. In the early morning, just before sun-up, it’s a peaceful and gentle landscape. The signs of coming Autumn are harder to see here, just a certain richness in the colors and a few red leaves on bushes. It was cooler than expected, and I was sorry to have not brought a jacket.
The absence of bird songs was surprising. I can’t explain it, but it was noticeable.
4 miles and 65 minutes. 2 weeks ago
I’ve hiked with Becca and Elbee practically every day since we got back from Paris over a year ago. Next week, we are going to do a special hike in Bryce Canyon to celebrate my birthday.
Today we climbed up the Wild Turkey trail in our favorite state mountain park. This is an extremely pleasant five miles that starts in a thick forest of maples and oaks and becomes an aspen and pine forest in the higher elevations.
I’ve been a little wary of hiking in this area ever since Becca was sprayed by a skunk last Saturday, but I remind myself that we have hiked these trails hundreds of times with only one skunk mishap.
The feeling of Fall inching in is strong in the woods. Six weeks ago, our weekend hikes started at 5:45 a.m. Now we must wait for the light until nearly 6:30. All of the leaves and grasses have turned rich, dark green, and the many-colored, bright blossoms of Spring and Summer have given way to deep gold and purple Autumn flowers. The grasses are as high as my shoulder and bowed over with plumes of seed and pollen. The bushes are loaded with blue, purple, red and white berries. I also spotted two young maples trees whose leaves have turned red and four low-flying, purposeful-looking geese.
It was a lovely, invigorating walk in the cool morning air, with lots of squirrel chasing and no mishaps at all. Five miles in 90 minutes. 2 weeks ago
difference in altitude 900 m 2 years ago