Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Glacier practice at St Mary's

Staying with Danny was great for many reasons (thank you Danny, we love you!).  One side benefit was being able to drive up the road to St Mary's Glacier for a bit of snow climbing practice.

The lake is also very pretty:

I think the Hiker Man has a few add-ons:

We were testing our aluminum crampons on running shoes, and that worked great, at least on a warm day and not too much time with our feet in the snow (no cold toes today).

John setting off up the snowfield with ice axe in hand:

What a great place to practice, easily accessible with a good slope and not too high up.  Love the angle John used on this photo:

John taking a picture of the slope to try to determine what angle we were at:

The resulting picture - looks pretty impressive, yet I was completely comfortable.  Love the ice axe and crampons for making this feel easy.  At least with nice soft snow.

Getting roped up to belay the steep part at the top (anchoring the rope and protecting each other in case of a slip).  John was also testing his new gaiters, apparently trying to decide whether or not to wear them, and this was the compromise:

John leading the way to the top:

Hi John!  As if I didn't already know, following his footsteps comes really naturally to me.  He would kick a step that was good enough for him, I would kick it out further and make a nice wide platform for each foot.

Beautiful view from up top:

Coming down the wide (easy) part of the glacier:

Even easier - descending via trash compactor bag/sled - fun!

View of where we were climbing:

And a close-up of the top where we were on belay (our tracks are barely visible, it was neat looking back at what we had done):

That was fun, and good practice.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Up high in CO - above Berthoud Pass

We're excited to be visiting Denver and the people we know there!  Thank you to Danny and Eric for hosting us at the cabin in the mountains.  Thank you to Ryan and Kelly for setting up an excellent hike last weekend.  We enjoyed climbing up high and getting great views!

Berthoud Pass was a nice place to start.  From there you walk up a couple road switchbacks toward the trail:

Kelly at the trailhead - and hey, we're on the CDT again!

I think we're getting the hang of the CDT:

Nice selfie by Ryan as we cross a snowfield (duck!):

First view down the east side of the Divide:

John and Danny are moving well too, and the trail was in great condition:

Danny's selfie at the same spot:

Ryan and the amazing snow-capped peaks to the west:

Looking down from the top of Mount Flora at the beautiful Ethel Lake (just starting to melt out):

Ryan, Kelly, and I followed the Divide a bit further, not so much a trail but a wide ridge covered by a bunch of rocks:

And snowfields (with Ryan in the distance):

Looking north along the Divide:

And starting back, more excellent views of the mountains.  Colorado is truly gorgeous.

We met up with John and Danny - Danny did great climbing up to over 13,000 feet!  I followed them back up to the top of Mount Flora:

Mr. Marmot hanging out at the top:

Checking out the ridges and various 13ers:

John and Danny overlooking Ethel Lake:

A great day to be outside with friends!

A couple of "posers" (John having difficulties with his normal pose while carrying a heavy pack):

Slightly blurry timer shot:

Checking out the switchbacks in the road below:

We had already seen one snow/rock avalanche on the steep slope above Ethel Lake (very cool!).  The guys thought we should stay and watch another bit of cornice fall in the afternoon sun.  No luck for these Avalanche Anticipators:

There actually is a trail through here, but it made for a fun picture that Danny took from above the snowfield:

Heading down, back to the car:

What an enjoyable day up high!

Backpacking in CO - part 2

To continue our backpacking trip with Robyn and Cathy...

Here we are on our day hike, seeking new things to see and following creeks up to higher ground:

Getting closer to treeline and the snow.  This spring apparently finished with a huge dump of snow in Colorado, and there was still a lot of it reported at higher elevations.

For example.  And yes, it must be summer because I brought John somewhere that still has snow:

John demonstrating creek-crossing techniques.  We got some good practice.  Also got our feet wet several times crossing creeks with no log options.  Brrr!

We saw a bunch of elk tracks and then started hearing signs of actual elk.  We caught glimpses of them running off through the woods - cool!

When we reached the main creek crossing, our feet were pretty cold (except for Cathy's since she had been wading in sandals and keeping her boots dry).  Also it was getting close to time to turn around anyway.  So we didn't walk across this one, and my toes thanked me.  Snow melt is dang cold.

Oh, then it started raining.  Must be afternoon in Colorado.  We're a colorful bunch (and that doesn't even include my purple jacket):

Robyn trying to understand the motivation of the beavers - are they trying to knock trees down to cover up the trail?  Do they want to dam up the valley?  It's a mystery.

Drying everything out the next morning to prep for our hike out:

Hugs in the sunshine!

Yay for backpacking with friends!

John wearing some shades that he found, along with our tent fly.  Or - Super John!

Packed up and ready to roll - guess I should get moving and quit taking pictures:

Another view of the awesome waterfall near our campsite:

Interesting talus pile:

John carrying out a tripod that he found (he does tend to find things!):

Photos all around:

Only a few more miles left in our adventure:

Thank you Robyn and Cathy for the fun company and excellent journey!

Parting shot: Driving across southern Colorado - this reminded us of Yellowstone, sort of: