With a 7am planned departure, we were ahead of the game as we backed out of the garage at 6:45am. A clear blue sky could only mean that a great day of hiking in the Flatirons was in our near future.
The trail of the day was Royal Arch Trail in Boulder, with the trailhead located at Chautauqua Park. Royal Arch is a short - 3.2 miles roundtrip – but strenuous hike, so we planned to be back in Boulder in time for lunch. Just a few steps into our hike, we spotted ultrarunner, Anton Krupicka. We recognized him from a recent magazine article and TV documentary. Why didn’t I take a picture??!!
Our trail began in an open meadow, wondered betwixt the forest, crossed Tangen Spring and finished along steep rocky terrain at our destination – Royal Arch. With much of the trail still icy and snow covered, we were prepared with trekking poles and Microspikes, even though weather at the trailhead was sunny and in the 70s. (Thank you CMC for our excellent training!) The Arch has a 20′ span and looks out over the urban view of Boulder. Directly underneath the Arch was a perfect spot for a morning snack and to enjoy the peaceful view.
After enjoying our summit, we headed back down trail. Even though the trail is short, it is a fun and involved hike, especially when icy and muddy. We made good time and arrived at the trailhead before noon. We packed up the Subaru and headed to The Sink to enjoy our well deserved lunch.
On Saturday, we got a sneak peek of RTD Denver’s newest project, the West Rail Line, which will officially open April 26, 2013. This train lover’s event was sponsored in part by the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO: www.coloradorailroadmuseum.org. Tickets for the preview were sold by the museum…luckily, we were able to buy two tickets before the two trains sold out.
The morning of the ride, Charles Albi (Colorado Railroad Museum) and Kevin Flynn (RTD Public Information Manager, P3 Project) provided a presentation regarding Denver’s train history and the history of the city and people encompassing the 12.1 miles of rail. ”Much of this route was started in 1891 as the Denver, Lakewood & Golden Railroad and continued as the Denver and Intermountain until 1953.” This section of rail line had originally closed to passengers in 1950, however RTD retained the right of way of the rail line, which is the same route used by the W Line today. (In attendance at the morning’s presentation was someone who had actually been a passenger of the last train in 1950.) Thanks to our 20x zoom, we are able to share this great presentation with you:
Seated on the train, we were lucky enough to sit next to a local train expert who is a volunteer with the Platte Valley Trolley. He was able to answer our train questions and provided us with lots of extra facts. The majority of the line runs parallel to Denver’s 6th Avenue, which connects Golden and Denver. Our W Line preview started and ended at the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden with the turn around point at the Decatur/Federal Station. Unfortunately, there was construction in progress, so were not able to make it all the way to the final stop – Union Station.
Hey Denverites! In celebration of the opening of the West Rail Line, enjoy FREE rides on the W Line on Friday, April 26. Continue the party on Saturday, April 27 with FREE rides on ALL light rail lines all day! Save the Earth, ditch your car for the day and explore your city.
Our usual Friday night out typically involves a cold beer and burrito at a crowded restaurant just around the corner. But this night we decided to live it up a little since we had family in town. We had the pleasure of enjoying a delicious dinner at The Broker Restaurant in Denver. From the bottomless peel and eat shrimp…to the finale of dessert and coffee, The Broker did not disappoint. The Broker Restaurant provided us with more than a great meal, it was an experience.
Opened in 1972, The Broker is located on 17th Street within the Colorado Yule marble walls of the old Denver National Bank. Seventeenth Street was once considered the center of the Denver business area. This fine dining locale retains a unique atmosphere as guests enter the dining room through the century old vault entrance. Only at The Broker can you dine within the private cherry wood walls that were once safe deposit box viewing rooms for wealthy bank customers.
As we were seated, the wait staff arranged our table and placed napkins in our laps to prepare us for the forthcoming bottomless bowls of shrimp; warm rolls; and soup and salad - which threaten to shrink your appetite before the entrée arrives. I ordered bacon wrapped scallops atop a potato cake and spinach, which was beautiful to look at and tasted even better. J opted for the Southwestern Beef Wellington since he likes food with a spicy kick. Fine dining comes with a higher price tag, but The Broker is a must for a special occasion.
A definite JKB Recommendation — Everyone living in or just passing through Denver should check out the historic attraction of The Broker Restaurant.
Being a member of the Colorado Mountain Club, I had heard about the Winter Camping School that was offered and thought, why not test my camping and backcountry skills on the snow? The class lasted about a month with three evening lectures at the American Alpine Center and then three weekend overnight trips. Our instructors had some pretty impressive resumes with some having climbs of Aconcagua, Denali and Mt Rainier. Knowledge and experience was not an issue.
During the lectures we covered topics such as: planning (goals, weather), equipment (boots, shovels), cold weather ailments (frostbite, hypothermia) and site selection (avalanche risk, snow conditions). We had two training days in the field before our overnight trips which is where we applied what we had learned and of course the obligatory stop at Tommyknockers Brewery in Idaho Springs after every session.
We went to St Mary’s Glacier and camped below tree line for our first over night trip. When we arrived, we began digging out areas for our tents. The St Mary’s Glacier weather is notorious for wind and blowing snow and this weekend was no exception. It is important to create some type of barrier from the wind, so we stacked snow blocks that we cut and built walls. After our tent compound was complete, we began carving blocks to build our kitchen area. This is where we all cooked and melted snow for drinking water and where we all froze together before we crawled into our sleeping bags. One member of our team learned an invaluable lesson - always keep the sheath on your snow saw when not in use. It was a freak accident, but a gust of wind blew something out of their pack and when they went to grab it, they hit the saw that was stuck in the snow with their hand. It left a pretty nice gash that required stitches. Needless to say, the instructors worked quickly to get him off the mountain and to an emergency room. Unfortunately, this cut their trip short, but they rejoined us on the last outing.
This weekend was our last trip as a class. Winter storm “Triton” was bearing down on the Front Range, but we still headed to the high country. With snow-packed roads and lots of accidents, we slowly made our way west. Finally we arrived at the Second Creek trailhead between Berthoud Pass and Winter Park with a fresh layer of powder to greet us. We all grabbed our gear and headed up the trail to about 11,000 feet, where we set up camp. One of the instructors and I attempted to build a snow cave. After 2 hours of work, we found a crack in our ceiling that made it unfit to stay in. He used his back-up tent and I attempted another, much smaller snow cave. Temperatures were supposed to dip to -8 F and a snow shelter is warmer than a tent, as the ambient air is a constant 32 F inside. Snow is an excellent insulator and sound barrier. After setting up camp, we went snowshoeing, ate some dinner, hung around and again, froze together before going to sleep. I woke up around 6am and fired up the stove for some scrambled eggs, potatoes and bacon and some hot coffee. Everyone else started slowly crawling out of their tents and we all hung around in the kitchen until we were thawed out enough to start packing. It snowed almost the entire time, until just before we broke camp. With blue skies trying to pierce the clouds, we finally saw the beautiful landscape that had surrounded us all night. Denver only saw half of the snow that was predicted, but we had a fun hike down in about 12 inches of fresh powder.
My first 14er of 2013 was Mt Sherman at 14,036 feet. This is not considered a difficult climb, but nonetheless, another 14er checked off the list and a good time to break in my new Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX boots. I have had them out a few times now and am impressed so far. A friend and I left early and headed out U.S. 285 towards Fairplay for the trail head. When we turned off county road 18, I saw something just in front of my headlights. I backed up from the turn, hit the spotlights and two enormous bull elk were standing there to greet us with steam coming from their nostrils. After they gave us the go ahead, we continued on up the dirt road for 10 miles and had a brief encounter with some deeper snow than was expected. After a little digging, we pressed on to the trail head.
The weather was not supposed to cooperate so we were trying to beat the incoming snowstorm. The clouds began to build with brief flurries here and there and the trail became more snow-covered as we headed up. We had to break trail up a fairly steep snowbank, which we both looked forward to glissading down on the way back. Once we made it to the top of the ridge, we continued up to a small saddle where we ate some lunch and added a few clothing layers. With about 200 vertical feet to go, the cloud deck fell and the wind let loose. We made it to the summit in just enough time to snap a few pics and head down. One of the pics was a little motivation for Mom, who just had back surgery. Hang in there Mom!!
We needed an escape from our domesticated morning at home, so we broke out the snowshoes and headed for the mountains to Silver Dollar Lake Trail. The trail is fairly easy and short, but is steep. It is popular with cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Easy to access, it is located just off Guanella Pass, near Georgetown and Idaho Springs.Trail Stats: DISTANCE: 3 MILES ROUNDTRIP ELEVATION GAIN/LOSS: 1,000; START: 11,200 END: 12,200 AVALANCHE: N/A
J and Furry B with Naylor Lake in the background.
There are actually two lakes on the trail. The first is Naylor Lake, which is privately owned; and Silver Dollar Lake (public) awaits for you at the end of the trail. We turned around at Naylor Lake, since the sun was starting to go down, and with so much snow on the trail, the path to Silver Dollar Lake was not well defined. We definitely plan to return in the spring/summer, because we have heard the wildflowers near the lakes are amazing.
Private and oh so peaceful cabins at Naylor Lake.
Hey Joe – We found the towers!
Before heading back to the trail head, we warmed up with a hot cocoa break.
Guanella Pass – CLOSED for winter