Clear Creek Boondock

With a warm three day weekend ahead of us, it was finally time to head out into the mountains for a camping weekend. I hiked up the Clear Creek Four-Wheel Drive road to the Lake Anne trail last summer. Along the way I saw a lot of potential car camping sites within the national forest, if we only had a vehicle that could handle the trail. With our new car, we finally had the opportunity.

It is still May, so the fear of potentially sub-freezing nights drove us to limit the stay to one night. Still, the prospect of getting out of town and spending a couple of days in the mountains seemed worth the effort.

When we bought our car, a lot of people asked why we wanted the air suspension and off-road package. After all, who would be crazy enough to take an SUV like this “off road”. We’re certainly far from extreme off-roaders, but a road like this is precisely the reason we wanted the extra capability. The video below is a sample of what the 4 miles up and down looked like.

We were not the only family looking to get away during the COVID constraints. The forest was busy – as busy as I’ve ever seen. But, thanks to the ability to get past where the typical family truckster could venture, we ended up at a reasonably secluded spot with fantastic views.

We camped in a meadow near the edge of Clear Creek. Not much for tree cover, but it provided excellent visibility to what we hoped would be some fine star gazing. The Milky Way core becomes visible late at night, with the rim of the galaxy almost 90 degrees overhead in the late spring months of the northern hemisphere. We set an alarm for a 3am wake-up call, and the entire family jumped at the opportunity. I’m not a skilled astrophotographer, but hopefully the picture below conveys the incredible view.

On Saturday we hiked part of the Mt. Huron trail. The family was split on whether to attempt to summit the 14,000 peak. By the time we broke treeline, our decision was made for us. We say the storm clouds rolling in, and heard the thunder rumbling through the valley below. Time for a quick descent back to camp.

This wasn’t exactly the most extreme mountain adventure, but I think it bodes well for the summer of 2020. We’re looking forward to several more excursions before the snow flies again!

Memorial Day Hike

Like so many people during these times, we are itching to get outside whenever we can. After a cool and rainy Sunday, we had a very nice spring day for Memorial Day. We decided to take on the next challenge of “Decoding Douglas”, a series of hikes through open space parks in Douglas County. Each hike has a marker placed somewhere along it, with an emblem that reveals your next destination.

Today’s hike was at the Lincoln Mountain open space, east of Larkspur. This park has a couple of different options with reasonable length loop hikes. The terrain is easy going, with just enough elevation and scenery to keep it interesting. It looks like a good place for a bike ride later in the summer.

We chose a 4 mile loop up across the mesa and around the boundary of the park. It was a great day to be outdoors. The clouds started rolling in again toward the end of the hike, obscuring what looks to be a nice view of Pike’s Peak at the right time. We’ll keep looking for that moment.

Weston Pass Adventure

We decided it was time to try to put the new car to a test, so we took our Saturday and drove up a jeep trail towards Weston Pass, between Fairplay and Leadville. The car handled fine, until we hit a 3 foot snow patch that we decided just wasn’t worth trying to cross. The east side of the pass is pretty tame, so we still haven’t been able to test the off-road capability. That will have to come later in the summer.

On the way back down, we stopped at the Rich Creek trailhead for a quick hike into the Buffalo Peaks wilderness area. We have never been, so it gave us a chance to find some new backpacking spots. Now we have another target on our camping list!

Hiking at Dawson Butte

It was a beautiful spring day, so we decided to continue our exploration of the Douglas County open space parks. This time we headed to Larkspur and the Dawson Butte trail. It’s a five mile loop hike that is relatively flat, but yet provides some nice scenery of the foothills and surrounding terrain. The figure below shows the route.

Track of our 5 mile hike overlaid on a topo map.

The clouds rolled in and out, keeping it reasonable cool throughout the hike. The boys played along nicely, although Alex would have rather spent the afternoon riding bikes with some friends from school. He had a hard time masking his lack of enthusiasm in some of the pictures below.

Like most people around the country, we’re ready to move past the Coronavirus isolation and have some sense of normal activity. Days like this help, when we can get out and about and see something other than our immediate neighborhood. Hopefully you’re finding similar escapes and keeping yourselves safe and sane in the meantime.