Early Summer Hikes

My dad was in town for the last couple weekends and the weather was mostly good, so I’ve done a good bit of hiking lately. Here are the best of my recent pictures. Mostly wildlife pictures because those are harder to come by (I’ve never had a mountain fail to sit still for a picture).

It took a surprisingly long time to catch a moth on the ground long enough to actually get a decent picture. This one’s not ideal but it worked far better than the others.

Slightly out of focus, does that mean the camouflage works against my phone?

We got to the top of Blodgett Peak as dark clouds were rolling over. It started raining as we left the peak, but at the same time the clouds also opened enough for a perfectly framed picture of Pike’s Peak in the distance.
Pike's Peak

On the way down from Blodgett this hummingbird flew across the trail and perched on a bush a safe distance away to preen. Thankfully my camera has a good zoom.
Hummingbird 1
Hummingbird 2

From Crystal Trail (above Green Mountain Falls) just after it crests the ridge. The Pike’s Peak toll road and Crystal Creek Reservoir are just up the trail from here.
Pike's Peak

As we got back to the lake in Green Mountain Falls this flock of geese (and geese-in-training) was eating the grass on the side of the road. Unfortunately I’d forgotten to pack my camera so I was unable to zoom to cut out the gas line (because I certainly wasn’t getting closer).

This bee was paying so much attention to the flowers I was able to hold my phone surprisingly close to get a picture. Taken in downtown Manitou Springs.

Nice Weather at Last

Yesterday was warm and sunny, so I went and hiked up the front side of Mt Herman. Literally the front – the trail I was following apparently didn’t go to the top but faded out as the slope got steeper and steeper roughly due east of the peak. It was admittedly too steep for it to be a good idea, but I scrambled over rocks (and through bushes and shin-deep snow) and eventually made it to the top:
Mt Herman Peak

It’s been a while since I went all the way to the top of the front range. Having just climbed to the top of a mountain, the view of Pike’s Peak always puts into perspective just how insignificant everything around it is (picture taken from about 9,000 ft):
Pike's Peak

Also, the view east is pretty spectacular too. There was a brief time when the conditions were right and I could barely make out a distant wind farm, but here’s a view of Monument and the majority of Black Forest:
Black Forest

And because I was playing with the macro feature on my camera, here are a couple flower pictures:
Open Flower

Closed Flower

Pike’s Peak

This last Monday (Labor Day) I hiked Pike’s Peak with a couple of my coworkers.

Trip Report

We met at the incline shuttle parking a little before 6:00 AM (when the shuttle is supposed to start, but it was about ten minutes late). The alternative was trying to find parking up Ruxton Avenue, but it was a holiday weekend and we expected the mountain to be crowded. It wasn’t that bad on Barr Trail, but there wasn’t any parking by the time the shuttle dropped us off. We hit the trail at about 6:20 just before the sun came up:

Also, Labor Day is when the hot air balloon festival is, so we had a distant view of the balloons as we ascended the first part of the trail:
Distant Balloons

Barr Trail is about 13 miles total distance and a bit under 8000 ft of elevation gain. The first half ascends steeply for about 3.5 miles then somewhat levels off, rising again just before Barr Camp (at ~6.5 miles, 10,000 ft elevation). Besides the sunrise and balloons we saw a deer (I didn’t get a picture), but it was otherwise an uneventful couple of hours of hiking. We paused briefly at Barr Camp (which was well populated) to eat a snack and dig out warmer clothes before continuing on up to A-Frame:

A-Frame is an open structure just below timberline. It’s about 9 miles up the trail and near 12,000 ft elevation. We reached it at 11:00 AM, about 4.5 hours into our hike, and took the opportunity for another snack break.

The last 3 miles took the longest: another 3 hours, putting us at the top at just before 2:00 PM for a total ascent time of 8.5 hours.
View from the Top

The top of Pike’s Peak is a somewhat unique experience among 14ers: there’s a gift shop and you can buy donuts. We pretty quickly got inside out of the cold, ate a couple donuts, used the facilities, and discussed getting back down. I was the only one inclined to hike back down: my coworkers hitchhiked thanks to the fact that there’s a road that goes up to the summit house (there’s also the cog railway, but you have to buy a ticket for that).

I was feeling pretty good when I started back down: my only concern was getting below timberline before the forecast rain (and potential lightning). I started down at about 2:30 PM, jogged a bit when the trail was open and smooth, and made timberline at about 3:30 PM. I was still doing well there, though I was getting lower on water than I wanted (I started with 3.5 liters, only had a liter left at this point). Unfortunately, jogging down large stretches of the three miles from there to Barr Camp wearing hiking boots left the bottom of my feet hurting and tired me out. I finally got back to the trailhead at about 6:45 PM, having spent about 12.5 hours on the mountain.

Fitbit Stats

I had my fitbit on for the hike. I racked up a bit over 56,000 steps for the day (it registered that as 27 miles, though I never calibrated my stride length) and 811 floors worth of altitude gain. That got me all the daily floors badges (the highest one is 700 floors for the “Rainbow” badge but there are apparently daily step badges for 60,000 steps and maybe more. I at least got the “Platform Shoe” badge for 55,000 steps in a day.


I didn’t get pictures of the deer early in the hike (didn’t think of it in time) or the softball-sized hornet nest by the trail a short distance above Barr Camp (wasps came out when I stopped to look at it, I decided to jog for a bit), but I did get a few decent wildlife pictures: