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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waldo Canyon near Manitou Springs, Colorado

Just west of  Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs and right off of US 24 is a nice hiking trail in Waldo Canyon. I left my son to play with his cousins at my sister's house in Colorado Springs and drove to Waldo Canyon for a nice easy/moderate hike one October Sunday afternoon (a couple of years back) and really enjoyed my hike.

Leaving Colorado Springs on US 24 I passed Manitou Springs, which is a neat town to visit also.  The trail head was about 2 miles west of Manitou Springs right off of US 24.  I am told that on nice days the parking lot can be full.  When I parked there was only one vehicle other than mine.
Waldo Canyon as seen from the loop/trail head intersection
From the parking lot I followed the trail east as it ascended up some landscaped steps and some switchbacks.  With the trail head and the first portion of the trail near the highway it was a little noisy, but the scenery was great.

At about 1.5 I had to make a choice of following the trail east or west, either way would loop around the canyon and bring me back to this intersection.  From this part of the trail I could see Manitou Springs.  After some consideration  I headed west (clockwise).
Trail heading west a distance from the intersection
The trail was well marked and easy to follow.  The ascent was gradual.  Not long after heading west the trail took me through a lot of trees.  I enjoyed the shade.  The trail slowly turns north and then back east where the trail heads east for a good distance.

I stopped and enjoyed the silence (once down in the canyon the noise of the highway is blocked) and a snack.  There are a lot of good boulders to rest on.

From the higher portions of the trail I could see Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak seen from north side of Waldo Canyon
The trail crossed a small stream several time, but crossing was easy.  There were numerous birds along the way and evidence of deer in the area.  The views of Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs were great.  The leaves were changing and the splashes of yellow & red were really beautiful.

The trail is less than 7 miles (6.8 according to this site).  Elevation gain is around 2000 feet.  I am not a expert hiker, but I would consider the trail easy to moderate.  I did enjoy having my trekking poles with me.

This short trail is a nice get away with some great views.  I think it is well worth the drive up US 24.  If you decide to take the trail in the morning leave early and drive past the trail head to Woodland Park and enjoy breakfast at The Hungry Bear.  You will have a great hike after an awesome breakfast.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our first rafting trip.

For a few years I had wanted to do some rafting, but I was concerned my son was too young.  However, while planning my summer motorcycle trip (June 2009) to Colorado, with my son (12 at the time) and some other men, I decided we would take a 1/2 day rafting trip.

I found Pagosa Outside Adventures (POA) while searching online for rafting in the Pagosa Springs area.  I was greatly impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the personal when I called several months ahead of time to get information. I decided to go with POA and booked our trip.

When we arrived at 12:30 on our scheduled day, we were met with smiles, laughter, and energy.  The entire staff seemed excited about the trip, a trip I am sure by then they had already taken many times.  Since none of us had ever been rafting we had questions and each question was enthusiastically answered.

After everyone had the appropriate gear, we loaded the POA van and head to the launching point which was directly behind the Malt Shoppe (great place - maybe discuss in a later post).  The rules and procedures were given in a humorus yet understandable way (Photos by "Birdcage"). 

Six rafts were launch and the fun began.  The river began smooth and cold.  The trip took us through parts of the town and right by the Springs Resort & Spa, a luxury hotel that features natual hot springs.  We continued down the river and out of the town where we got to experience some level 2-3 rapids. 

We difted beside steep granite walls and mountain forests.  We saw bald eagles looking for food and we rafted by a site used during the filming of the John Wayne classic The Cowboys.  At about the 1/2 way point the rafts pulled over and we had time for a snack and necessary break.

Once back on the river the speed picked up.  We experience some whitewater, but it was never too big or too rough.  The scenery was great and there was some fun-loving splashing wars between the rafts. Our guide was very experienced and knowledgeble.  He added a lot to the experience with his commentary and humor.  (Photo by "Loose Wheel" Grant)

When we landed we all helped load the equipment back on the trailers.  On our ride back into town we saw a black bear, but none of us got a picture.  The bear ran once the vans got close.

This was a great experience and has motivated me to go rafting again.  Next time I am in the Pagosa Springs area I will be planning a full day trip with POA.  Give it a try, you will have a blast.