About This Site
This site documents the hikes I've taken. Given that I have a somewhat short memory :-), it helps me to decide whether to try an old hike again, or try something new. If it helps you, that's great! It's kind of a shame that many of the hikes aren't represented here, but at the same time, this means that the material will be fresh. As time permits, I'll add a commentary to the hikes, but don't hold your breath. Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a fave of mine, and I've hiked every trail in the park; many of them several times. Because of this, Golden Gate will be over-represented. In time, I'll do more in the Open Space parks around Denver.
This is day hiking, mountain style. Most hikes here will be in the 2-3 hour range. My longest hike to date has been just over 6 hours. This is the kind of thing you can sneak in on a Saturday or Sunday morning before the rest of the family gets out of bed. That is, if you're not opposed to getting up early. And, it helps to live fairly close. During the summer months, I try to get in one hike every weekend (sometimes two), and I generally hike solo. If I had a doctor who was interested in my health, I'm sure he'd tell me I should give up working and do this full time.
If you take these hikes...
Practice safety. If you've never done mountain hiking before, there are some things you need to know. People die doing this and some of them aren't found for years. With a little bit of precaution, you won't be one of them. I know what you're thinking: "Yeah, right!" The truth is, in Colorado, we lose more souls to hiking than to hunting accidents. And it only takes a little knowledge to make the difference! This is a dangerous sport, but only if you're clueless. That said, here are the clues. :)
Altitude -- If you're from lower climates, the air is a lot thinner at 9,000 feet and above. This can lead to altitude sickness. If you start experiencing headaches and fatigue, it's time to slow down and head back. It usually takes a couple days to acclimate to this elevation if you're coming from sea level. Let your body guide you -- if you start 'feeling like hell' it's time to call it quits.
Weather -- The weather here is so unpredictable that most of the natives want jobs predicting it. Forecasts are frequently wrong, and we'd love to get paid to be wrong. Colorado is second only to Florida in deaths by lightening during the summer months. You don't need any sophisticated equipment here, just WATCH THE SKIES! The Rocky Mountains in Colorado do have a bit of a pattern. Storms tend to form in the mid-afternoon. Sometimes they blow over, sometimes they last well into the night. If you're in a forest, the odds are slim of getting hit. If a storm catches you on open ground in RMNP, well, you weren't watching the skies, were you? Weather moves fast here. Pay attention to it. If you're not looking up once every 5 minutes, you're 'at risk.' It really is that simple. Flash floods don't happen often, but they do happen.
Water -- Take plenty. As a bare minimum, I would suggest 8 ounces per person, per hour. If you're relatively fit, this should be enough. But, you can never have too much. This isn't a big deal if you're just doing a half-hour walk, but many of these hikes are physically demanding and you'll need lots of water. It's easy to use a 'cheap' fanny pack that carries a couple of 16-20oz bottles. For anything over about 4-5 hours, I'd suggest carrying a hydration pack. Also, do NOT drink from the streams and lakes in Colorado without filtering the water first. 100% of the water here is infected with giardia. It might quench your thirst, but you'll pay for it. Speaking of which, a giardia vaccine has been developed for dogs. So, if you plan on bringing your mutt along, ask your vet about this. Not yet approved for humans, but I'm pretty sure your dog will approve!
Colorado SAR (Search and Rescue) -- This is something I stumbled across a year or two ago. In Colorado, if you get lost to the point where an SAR mission is launched to find you, you WILL pay the bill for the rescue. We're fortunate here in that we have some of the best SAR people in the world. But this also means that our SAR people aren't afraid to use things like helicopters and light planes. These are very expensive to operate, and you may wish you died when you get the bill. To this end, the state has established a fund. If you buy into this fund and need SAR services, the rescue itself is free. It's really cheap insurance. You can buy a "hiker certificate" for a buck (one dollar) that covers you for a year. For five dollars, you can buy a five-year certificate. You're automatically covered by this if you have a current Colorado fishing or hunting license. Don't let this make you sloppy, though. :) Check it out here or search on "CORSAR" at the state's web site, here .
Other -- Here's what I take for a good 4-5 hour mountain hike (or anything less). I wear a mid-size fanny pack. The pack carries two 16-oz water bottles. Strapped to the bottom is a poncho (never used). The whole affair doesn't weigh much. On my belt, I carry a pedometer and my digital camera. I also carry a cell phone (never used). The pack contains a small first-aid kit, one or two energy bars, a compass, maps, a tiny notebook and pens, a pack of smokes and a lighter (yeah, really), a small bottle of Deet and a small pair of binoculars. The all-important first-aid kit has your usual mix of bandaids, moleskin and pills (asperin, Advil). This actually has been used a few times. Moleskin is your friend, as is Neosporin. Never underestimate the power of a splinter or minor burn. A small first-aid kit costs little and can be used all year. The GPS info on this site comes from a Magellan ColorTrak GPS receiver that I carry in my hand. I also carry extra batteries. You won't need all the 'techie' stuff. I'm just funny that way. Do bring a camera if you're so inclined. There are many inexpensive 35mm point-n-shoots that work well. I use a Pentax 115M (no longer made), but all of the recent pictures here were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera. The Yashica T4 is "top rated" by backcountry folks, and you can still buy those new, for about $160.
Above all, have fun, and Leave No Trace.
I'm not much of a HTML guru (obviously), but I learn a little more as I go. The premise for each hike page here is to just play with the technology. The premise of the hikes is quite different.
While hiking, I carry a Magellan ColorTrak GPS receiver. Normally, I don't pay a lot of attention to it except to see that it's receiving. I also wear an old Comp-u-step electronic pedometer (bought at a curio shop in Yellowstone, 1990). Together, these define the distances for the hikes. I'm real careful to reset the pedometer and the GPS at the start of each hike, and turn them both off at the end.
Once I get home, the GPS unit is plugged into the computer, and the track is downloaded. For this, I use TOPO!GPS. This program plots the hike on a USGS topo map, and also generates the elevation plot. These graphics are simply 'cut' from the screen and pasted to the web. The map (where applicable) is cut and pasted from official government sources, and I hope I'm not infringing on anybody's copyright (guffaw).
The photos are currently generated with a Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera. I use Photoshop 5 LE to generate the thumbnail images and to produce the larger images. The thumbnails are reduced to 100 pixels in the minor axis and the larger pictures are reduced to 600 pixels in the major axis. In both cases, Photoshop's sharpening filter is used (often twice). I'm not real impresssed with digital photography, but it seems to work fairly well for web use. I also carry a Pentax 115m 35mm camera. Gobs of 35mm SLR stuff stays home just because of the weight.
Are these the best tools for the job? Probably not. They were all 'new' to me when I got them, however, and you gotta start somehwere.