Monday, June 30, 2008

Garden of the Gods

Eric woke up early and headed over to the Red Rocks Canyon Conservation Area for some hiking before meeting the rest of the family at Garden of the Gods.
The scenery was beautiful though the hike at Garden of the Gods was short.
In the evening we headed out to Palmer Lake for the wedding rehearsal, followed by an excellent dinner at the Phantom Canyon Brewery.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Crags and Pike's Peak

Woke up this morning and got the itch to do some hiking, so we rounded up some peoples and hit the road on our drive to "The Crags", west of Colorado Springs.
The hike was easy and very scenic.
After the short walk we headed back east towards the Pike's Peak auto road. It was a fun, easy drive to the summit with a few stops for souvenirs and restrooms. The summit was chilly.
As we headed down, we discovered our brakes on the rental van (AKA Family Truckster) were overheating at over 500 degrees, so we were forced to wait a half hour for them to cool.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Colorado's Highest Point: Mount Elbert

We awoke at 5:10 am, ate some bananas and drove the mile to the North Mt. Elbert trail head. We were on the trail by about 6am. The first part of the hike was along relatively gentle grades through a forest that reminded me of those you'd find in the north woods of Maine.
After about a mile of following the Colorado Trail we made a right and started up the peak in earnest.
It was a long, difficult ascent. I think it seemed especially difficult because we weren't fully acclimated to the altitude yet.
When we made it to tree-line the views really opened up.
There were great views of Mt. Massive and the other surrounding mountains.
The trail seemed to get steeper and steeper, but at least there was no snow to post-hole through. When we finally made it to the summit, it was an amazing feeling. We sat up there and took some photos and watched others make their way to the summit.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the ascent was seeing how the others making the trip were dressed and outfitted. While some hikers wore jeans and cotton sweatshirts, others wore mountaineering boots and carried ice axes. Noelle and I were part of the middle ground, we wore synthetics but carried no axes. I think we were adequately prepared.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Leadville, Colorado

Since our plans to hike up Notch Mountain had been canceled by the closure of the Tigiwan Road we would need to find something else to do today. After eating breakfast and packing up our tent and sleeping bags, we headed into Leadville and the Forest Service office. Inside we inquired about some hiking suggestions and ended up with plenty of options. We decided that we would head over to the Leadville Fish Hatchery where there is a trailhead for an intriguing path called the Highline Trail.
The hike was about 6 miles long and it was pleasant if unspectacular.
After our hike we headed back into town where we browsed in some of the shops and got lunch at Rosie's Brewpub, which happens to be North America's highest. The food and beer there were decent.
After lunch we drove to the Halfmoon West Campground where we camped for the evening to be close to the trailhead for our ascent of Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest peak, the following day.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Golden Gate Canyon State Park & Mount Evans

Woke up in Louisville this morning at 5 am and headed over to the airport. By 7am we were on the plane and headed to the "land of the fourteeners", otherwise known as Colorado. We arrived in Denver a little after 7:30, picked up our bags, and then took the shuttle to Dollar Rental Car. Our reserved vehicle, a Dodge Caliber, had mysteriously disappeared just before our arrival so we were "upgraded" to a Dodge Grand Caravan. yes we will be traveling in style, in a white mini-van. From the airport we drove to Wal-Mart where we stocked up on some supplies and got some breakfast at IHOP. Then it was into the mountains via Golden Gate Canyon.
We went on a short, leisurely hike
to the Forgotten Valley
before descending into Idaho Springs for lunch at the Tommyknocker Brew Pub.
After lunch we drove up Mount Evans
where we were rewarded with some excellent views and Eric was rewarded with a pounding headache and nausea. Finally, it was time to find a campsite. Since we had planned on hiking up Notch Mountain the following day, we looked at our handy DeLorme Gazetteer and spied a campground near the trailhead on what was labeled as the Tigiwan Road. Our excellent adventure was about to take a turn for the worst.

The drive to the campsite was a pleasant one. Along the way we drove through the Eisenhower Tunnel, passed through Vail and caught amazing views of the surounding mountains. Then we headed off the interstate and through the town of Minturn to a very rough Tigiwan Road. "It probably gets better maintained when we enter the National Forest", Eric exclaimed. After a bumpy mile we entered the National Forest and were greeted with a gate blocking the road. Our trip up Notch Mountain was abruptly cancelled. Well, the road was narrow, and a small parking lot near rthe gate was full of cars. Eric would have to back up about 50 yards to reach a small dirt driveway where we could turn around. As he did so we heard a THUMP and Noelle calmly stated "that doesn't sound good." We had driven into a ditch!

The ditch was deep enough that we were unable to drive out of it. In fact the the front driver side wheel was barely touching the ground. To make matters worse, the whole event happened right next to a small beaver pond and the mosquitoes were swarming as we tried in vain to figure out a way to get the van out of the ditch. Finally we decided that we needed to call 911 to get some help. After about an hour the friendlt tow-truck operator from the West Vail Shell had arrived and pulled us out in about two minutes. The damage: $180. At least the car was in tact and undamaged. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Daniel Boone National Forest: Rockcastle Narrows & Bark Camp Creek Trails

With just over a week to go until our big trip for the summer in Colorado, Noelle, Parker,and I headed south to the London area (Kentucky, not England) for some hiking and camping in the Daniel Boone National Forest. We drove south on I-75 yesterday morning and set up camp at the Bee Rock Campground. I would have to say it's my second favorite campground in Kentucky after the excellent (and free) Great Meadows site. From there we hiked a 4.5 mile loop to the Rockcastle River Narrows.

That evening Eric hiked up to the Bee Rock overlook for a pre-sunset view.
Today, we headed further south and hiked along Bark Camp Creek,

an enjoyable place for a walk in the shade of tall sandstone cliffs.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Canoeing the South Fork of the Licking River

With oppressively hot weather in the forecast, Noelle and I decided to cancel our planned camping trip in Daniel Boone National Forest and instead head for the water. We drove north into Pendleton County and put-in on the South Fork of the Licking River. The trip was relaxing if not too exciting.
Noelle paddles Licking River
Not a bad way to spend the day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A gasoline-free day

With gasoline on the cusp of $4 per gallon, I decided I wanted to do something that didn't require Noelle and I to drive anywhere. We decided to take a walk down the street to the local historic site we hadn't toured yet, the Henry Clay Estate. The tour was worth the visit and the house, although not the one Henry Clay actually lived in was very interesting. After our tour we headed to our favorite local Cajun joint, Bourbon 'n Toulouse. Then we walked to the Lexington Farmer's market where we picked up some tomatoes and zucchini. From there we headed home with a stop for some Hawaiian Shaved Ice. All in all, we ended up hiking about eight miles today.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hiking the Bourbon Trail

For our last two days off the weather hasn't exactly cooperated as we had hoped, so Noelle and I decided to take the opportunity to visit the three bourbon distilleries here in Kentucky that we haven't been to. First on our itinerary was a visit to Four Roses near Lawrenceburg. We had stopped by this one before but weren't able to tour the facility due to their summer shutdown. This time we were able to go on the tour and it was a decent one. The only problem was the fact that we were on an early tour and they don't give out samples until after noon. After Four Roses we headed west on the Bluegrass Parkway (aka Bourbon Trail) to the Heaven Hill facility. At this facility there is no distillery, but you do get to tour the warehouses where the bourbon is aged in charred oak barrels. Another decent tour, followed by a sample of two of their high-end bourbons. From Heaven Hill we moved on to what is probably the best known distillery, that of Jim Beam.
The tours there are self-guided and the best part is the end when you get to sample my personal favorite bourbon, Knob Creek.

After the bourbon tours we took a short trip to the Bernheim Arboretum where we went on a short hike (it was really hot), then headed back to Lexington. Not a bad way to spend a day off.