We experienced some wonderful spring weather this weekend and all I could think about was getting in as much day hiking as possible. I have a big backpacking trip coming up this summer and what seemed like a long 6 months away is suddenly just 2 1/2 months. I definitely need to get in better shape if I’m going to complete over 200 miles of backpacking on the John Muir Trail. With that in mind, I squeezed in a 6 mile hike on Saturday and over 8 miles of day hiking on Sunday.
Saturday I hiked with members of my local city open space committee on private land that we are considering to add to our city’s open lands program which will open up new hiking trails to the public. I’ll hopefully be able to talk about this more in the future.
A Spring Day Hiking Adventure
On Sunday, my mom called to say she wanted to come play with her granddaughters so my wife and I took to the mountains for an afternoon of day hiking. We chose Crosier Mountain Trail located in Glen Haven, CO near Estes Park, CO. We knew this 8 mile trail had an elevation gain of over 1900 feet so it’d be a great workout but at just over 9200 feet high, I was hoping the spring snowpack would be manageable.
The beginning of the trail is tight switchbacks cutting straight up the mountain. We were breathing hard but the fresh air and beautiful pines kept us going. About a mile in, we reached a huge meadow. The meadow was filled with grasses that were just beginning to turn green and the opening allowed for our first views of the white mountain peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park.
We climbed for another mile to the Rainbow Trail Junction. My wife has been battling a bit of a cold and sore throat and was leaning towards calling it a short day but I successfully convinced her that reaching the summit was going to be worth it. Right after we had made the decision to go all the way, the trail was suddenly covered in really wet slushy snow. We sloshed our way through the tracks others had left in this rapidly melting snow on our search for the summit.
The final summit push was steep but not too difficult. Then we came over the ridge and the massive view opened up before us. From the summit of Crosier Mountain you can see the town of Estes Park and all of the peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park from Long’s Peak and Mount Meeker all the way north to Mummy Range and beyond.
Day Hiking is one of my favorite things to do along with peak bagging so this trip was right up my alley. The distance and elevation made this more than an easy stroll but it wasn’t too difficult. The beautiful views made the entire trip worth it.
We quickly sloshed back through the slushy mess and down the switchbacks without a problem. We quickly hoped in the car and headed back to town where our kids, messy house and small business were all waiting for us. But for those brief 4 or 5 hours we enjoyed the peace and quiet of the outdoors. It was worth it.
We have two regrets about this trip.
- Food. Since the whole hike was kind of a last minute plan, we only packed two granola bars (one each) and a few almonds. This day hike was right through the middle of the day and we were miles from the car when we normally would be eating lunch. I should have packed sandwiches and an additional snack. We weren’t in any danger but we were pretty hungry when we got back to town.
- Socks. I was wearing Merrell Hiking shoes with Gore-Tex so I only had a little water in one of my shoes but my wife was wearing a lighter weight trail running shoe which got soaked when we hiked through the snow. There isn’t much you can do about this but she also had a cotton sock on, which soaked up the water and made her feet feel cold and wet. A merino wool hiking sock would have been much more comfortable.
Learn from our experience. Wear clothing (including socks) that will wick moisture away from the body and dry quickly, bring plenty of food and water, and plan ahead for different types of conditions you might encounter. But most importantly, get outside and enjoy your own adventure.