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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Camping when its cold - or any outdoor activity

Some like to camp when it is cold and there is a lot of hunting when the weather is colder.  Whatever outdoor activity one is involved with, staying warm with the appropriate gear is vital. 

This past spring I saw fleece-lined jeans at Cabela's and wondered how warm they would be in cold weather.  I kept an eye out for a sale and purchased a pair of the fleece-lined jeans during a sale event.  I tucked the jeans away until colder weather hit North Texas.
The weather turned cold in December so I pulled the fleece-lined jeans out of the closet.  The jeans are relaxed cut traditional 5-pocket jeans.  They fit appropriately and felt great.  The fleece is 100% cotton and feel great.  Construction and fabric are high quality.

The first time I wore them was on a lower 30 degree morning.  While walking the dog I could immediately feel the warmth was far superior to normal denim jeans. After walking the dog it was time to go out on a motorcycle ride.  During the ride the legs felt very comfortable and warm, even when riding at 60+mph.

I am really glad I purchased the jeans.  I liked them so much I have already bought a second pair.

Below is a video showing the jeans and my thoughts about them.  Check it out.  If you like the video please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to see future video reviews.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Manitou Incline - what a workout!

It is difficult for hiker in North Texas to really prepare to summit a 14'er (mountain with elevation 14,000+) in Colorado.  We just don't have anything close to simulate the elevation.  Strength training and cardio training definitely helps and if a flat-lander can spend some a few days at higher elevations before the big hike it helps a great deal.

However; there is a great place to help a hiker prepare for a big hike in Manitou Springs, Colorado - the Manitou Incline.  (Video at the end of post)
Starting point for the Manitou Incline
The Incline is the remnant of a narrow gauge cliff (or funicular) railway built in 1907 and a few years later became a tourist attraction.  The views from the incline were and still are awesome.

View from about 1/2 way up the Incline
In the 1990's a rock slide damaged the tracks and the decision was made to not repair the tracks.  It did not take long for fitness enthusiasts to start hiking the Incline.  There were plenty of legal battles, but the good new is it is now a public hiking trail.
The average grade of the trail is 24 degrees with the steepest grade being 34 degrees!
The .88 miles (1.42km) trail has a "bailout" trail connecting to the Barr Trail (which ascends Pikes Peak) about 2/3 of the way up. Looking up the trail it looks like the top is not too far away, but there is a false summit about 300 steps below the real summit. 
That is a long way down and there is more to go.
Some accounts state there are about 2,744 steps on the incline.  I did not bother to count, I was trying to breath. 
The elevation really makes breathing difficult for a flatlander.
The base sits at 6,600 feet and the top is 8,600 feet, a 2,000 feet elevation gain in .88 miles make for a great workout.
Other hikers enjoying the view and feeling of accomplishment.
Most hikers descend by walking over the Barr Trail and following it down.  The Barr Trail down is a lot less steep, but about 2.7 miles.

The MapMyHike app gave me the following stats for second hike up the Incline (the first time was in 2014). July 19, 2015 - 1 mile, 1:04.29 hours, 2217 steps.

The same app gave me these stats for the hike down via the Barr Trail.  2.7 miles, 1:00.14 hours, 6151 steps.
I was tired, but felt good and I believe it helped me greatly.  A few days later I made the summit of Mt. Wheeler in New Mexico.  The incline is a great challenge for any hiker.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Lawn Lake Trail in RMNP

Rocky Mountain National Parks has 355+ miles of hiking trails in some of the most beautiful country in Colorado.  One trail that I really enjoyed (not only for the natural beauty, but also the historic significance) is the Lawn Lake Trail.

From Estes Park, CO take Hwy 34 west and enter RMNP at the Fall River entrance.  After about 1 – 1 ½ miles turn right on Old Fall River Road.  The parking lot for the trailhead is about 100 yards on the right.  The trailhead is on the north side of the parking lot.  There is an information board at the base of the trail.  

I hiked up to Lawn Lake and back, it was a 12.4 mile trip.  The trail's elevation gain is 2249 feet from trail head to the lake.  I found the trail well marked and easy to follow.  Watch for the trail to split about 1.8 miles from the trail head.  If you take the left fork you will be on the Ypsilon Lake trail so, stay to the right.

The trail has many switch back and provides a lot of great views of the famous Long's Peak (14,259 ft).  At times the trail places you near the edge of the steep Roaring River and allows you to see the massive destruction caused by the 1982 flood when the Lawn River dam broke.  The trail turns away from the river about 3 miles into the hike and runs into the surrounding forest.

The rock formations and boulders along the way add spectacular contrast to the forest.  The huge boulders decorate the trail and give hikers great places to sit and enjoy the surroundings.  About 1/2 of a mile from the lake the trail runs into the path of the great flood and gives a great view of how wide and massive the force was.  Lawn Lake, the goal of the hike, sets in the cup of the mountains at the top edge of the timberline.  The fragile tundra surrounds the lake and boulders provide seats for the human audience.  Filled with melted snow and rain it is clear, cold and a beautiful blue.  I took time to sit, relax, and enjoyed a snack.  It is a very pretty area and was well worth the hike.  (Photo from www.landscapeimagery.com)

The trek back to the trailhead allows a different perspective that provides great views.  It is a great trail worth every step.  The trail does not get a lot of visitors.  During my 6 hour hike I passed about 13 hikers on my way down and never saw any on my way up.  I highly recommend taking the hike up to see Lawn Lake.  I also highly recommend that you take a good pair of trekking poles with you and plenty of water, snacks, and a good camera.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Life sure can get hetic!

It has been almost six years since my last post.  I could try to enumerate all the reasons I have not posted, but at this point it does not really matter.  I am just glad that I can once again post about "Taking it outside."

Lake in the Sangre de Cristo mountains near Cuchara, Colorado
During the years I was still able to do some camping and hiking.  I had some great trips and purchased some new gear, I just did not find or take the time to post.
Hammock camping is awesome!
Trinchera Peak (13,517 feet) - Colorado
I am now in position to be much more consistent with posts on campgrounds, hikes, gear, restaurants...  I hope all the info will be useful and interesting.
 Hummingbirds at North Park KOA near Gould, Colorado

Longhorn Caverns - Texas

I enjoy visiting caverns and there are several in Texas.  Some are pretty, some are unique, some are small, some are large and some have interesting history.  Longhorn Caverns near Burnet in the Texas Hill Country is a cavern with some history.

During the Civil War bat guano was mined to make gun powder.  A legend concerning the outlaw Sam Bass states Sam hid money from his activities in the cave.  Another story is told of a recuse of a kidnapped girl taken by Indians who hid in the cave.
Tour visit the large room
One of the interesting and unique formations
The stories surrounding the caverns led tourist to the area to see the sites.  By the 1020's the main room of the cave was being used as a dance hall and a place for concerts. 
Boys standing at the gated entrance to the cavern
In the late 1930's the cavern and many acres around it became a state park and open to the public.  In 1971 it was designated a National Natural Landmark.
Colorful formations

A dumbwaiter used the hole above to lower dishes and food during events in the main room. 

Entry to Longhorn Caverns
Longhorn Cavern sits inside the 645 acres Longhorn Cavern State Park and is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Tours for the most part happen hourly (schedule changes during the winter - link to schedule and fees).

Footprint from an unknown human hardened in the stone
Next time you are in the Texas Hill Country stop by the Longhorn Cavern SP and enjoy the cavern.

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