If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Runnin' and Ridin' the Boat - Scene Two

Tuesday - Mad Creek / Hot Springs Loop
 Kathleen climbing up Mad Creek Trail

Tuesday we were aiming for a little shorter outing which had potential for a longer option if the legs felt snappy.  We decided to head out the Mad Creek Trail, with the option to continue on the Swamp Park Trail in Mount Zirkel Wilderness and loop back on Red Dirt.  Our primary goal was a 14 mile loop.  The trail starts with a nice climb up the canyon wall above Mad Creek (go figure...) and then opens out into some large meadows mixed with aspen groves.
 Note the gate - all of this area is open range, meaning you share the trail with the bovine crowd
 Landmark Mad Creek Barn, looking up valley to the wilderness
 Dense foliage - and this is a "good" section...

We were not prepared for the dense overgrowth of foliage as we got in towards the wilderness boundary.  Generally the cows keep the trail pretty cleared, but they have been slacking this year.  There were times when the growth was so dense from both sides that you could not see the trail or your feet, and the foliage was near shoulder height in spots.  So, after crossing into the wilderness (and getting the 'itchies'), we decided to try an alternate route and turned back.
 Too busy eating to trample the path for some trail runners!
 Perched above Mad Creek
 Crossing Mad Creek - used a bridge for this one!
 High above the Hot Springs Trail

We crossed over the bridge after coming out of the grazing zone, and headed up a long ridge on the opposite side of the creek.  We would traverse the other canyon wall, run up and over the ridge, and then drop down to Hot Springs Creek to loop back around to the trailhead. 
 Cooling off post run - Kathleen catches me gingerly lowering myself into the cold creek!

It was getting pretty warm and turned out to be a fabulous day.  We ran 9.5 miles, which fit in great for our week long plan of activity, and then sat in the creek for a bit to soak the muscles and rinse the pollen from all the bushwhacking!

Wednesday - Road Ride to Lake Catamount
  Enjoying another bluebird day - on wheels this time
 Lake Catamount and great country roads

We hit the road Wednesday on two wheels, rather than two feet.  We planned a nice route that would circle Steamboat Springs, then catch the River Road out to Lake Catamount, on the lower slopes of Rabbit Ears Pass.  We had several route alterations due to the ubiquitous chip-n-seal operations in effect - winter is not far off, and they have to get their roads repaired while they can!  We saw a lot of bikes out enjoying the day - these are just some great roads to get out and ride without much traffic hassle at all.
 Stopped to watch the tractors for a bit - great countryside for a meandering ride

We could have ridden for hours on end with the perfect weather and scenery that is oh so easy on the eyes.  I, being the voice of reason, reined us in at 35 (someone else was "jonesing" for 40) miles though as we had more on tap for the week - can't spoil any days with inactivity, right???  After fueling up post ride, it was time to head over to the Yampa River Botanic Park.  We needed some fresh ideas for next summer in the Xeric garden at home.
 Fantastic mountain gardens
 Looks like more work for Kathleen next summer....
 Great ponds at the park
Foxglove framed against the Colorado azure skies - sweet!

A perfect couple days but still more to come.  The modem was smoking, so more pictures will have to wait until the next upload!!!  Happy Trails!
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