Estes Park

IMG_2479-2Estes Park is a fantastic little mountain getaway. During the summer it’s a big touristy spot but it’s definitely worth the visit all year round.

There’s plenty of little shops, restaurants, hiking trails, cabins, IMG_6432horseback riding, Jeep tours, and many other things to do here. Not to mention that it’s right next to Rocky Mountain National Park, which is a definite must.

This is a no hunting area so there’s usually herds of elk, deer, and sometimes bighorn sheep. The deer and elk wander around the towns and aren’t scared by the people, unless you get too close of course. There’s also the occasional bear and moose. I’ve yet to see either of those here though.IMG_2531

I’ve been up to Estes many times and each time I’ve seen elk. From what I’ve noticed there’s usually a herd that hangs around Lake Estes and the golf course. There’s another herd that sticks closer to the RMNP entrance. If you have instagram you can also look up the hashtag EstesElkWatch and see if anyone has tagged any recent sightings of the elk. IMG_2585

I suggest going up there during the elk’s rut, which is in the fall. It’s awesome to hear them bugle.

I’ve only seen the bighorn sheep once and it was closer towards evening on HWY 34 going from Estes to Loveland. IMG_0167

Gem Lake is a cool hike that’s only a few miles long. It’s a pretty steep climb but worth it once you get to the top. Lilly Lake is an easy hike near Estes. Also be sure to check out the Saint Malo’s Chapel on the Rocks. IMG_0080IMG_0148IMG_2541IMG_0045IMG_0066IMG_0081

“While you are young you should travel; You should take the time to see the world and taste the fullness of life.”

Estes Park, Colorado

Photos taken with Canon Rebel T5

2014

Garden of the gods

IMG_8056These are only a few of the interesting rock formations at the Garden of the gods public park in Colorado Springs. It’s an easy hike and definitely a site to see. We didn’t spend much time here because we got there later in the day; We had just enough time to explore for a little bit and to watch the sunset. IMG_8298

It’s a big tourist attraction but easy to get to and it seemed like there was quite of bit of parking. It wasn’t too crowded when we were there in September.

Garden of the gods has about 15 miles worth of trails which people like to walk, bike, and horseback ride. You can also rock climb in certain areas. IMG_8077

These rock formations are made up of sandstone, limestone, and other rocks formed together to create conglomerate (that’s my understanding of conglomerates anyway).

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“The most dangerous risk of all; The risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”

Garden of the gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Photos taken with iPhone 4

September 2014

Devil’s Backbone

IMG_20140731_125359_117Devil’s backbone is an extremely easy hike: It’s a good place to trail run, bike ride, or to take the family. The full trail is seven miles roundtrip. Even if IMG_3527-2you don’t go to the end of the trail, definitely check out The Keyhole. I haven’t gone the whole way so I’m not sure if it’s worth it or not. It looks pretty cool but I wouldn’t go back multiple times unless I was going to complete the trail.

It’s about two miles west of Loveland, CO. There’s quite a few people who go here to hike which sometimes makes parking hard IMG_3719to find. IMG_3663

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“I promise if you keep searching for what is beautiful in this world, you will eventually become it.”

Devil’s Backbone, Loveland, Colorado.

Photos were taken with an Iphone 4.

August 2014

Brainard Lake

IMG_7785One of my regular customers at the coffee shop I used to work at would always talk to me about her photography and places where she liked to go take pictures. She recommended Brainard Lake, near Ward, because there’s typically moose around there. I had never seen a moose before so I went up there as soon as I had a chance.IMG_7684

On the drive up to Brainard Lake, after you’ve passed the gate (it’s $10 to get in and park), you first come across Red RocksIMG_8303 Lake. I stopped there so I could see it then went on up to Brainard.

I didn’t see any moose right away but not long after I was there, four bull moose came out of the forest. They were huge! I’ve seen plenty of elk but these were a lot bigger. These moose were obviously used to being around IMG_7846people as well as cars, because they didn’t seem to mind everyone around. They were definitely intimidating. I only had my iPhone at this time so the pictures show you how close I was. There was no way I would get any closer though.

A few people told me that they saw some cows (female moose.. Not farm cows haha) over at Red Rocks Lake. I was more IMG_8035interested in the bulls though. By the time I left it was dark and wouldn’t have been able to see them anyway, if they were still there.

Most of the time when you are able to get somewhat close to wild animals it’s because people aren’t able to hunt in those areas so they aren’t scared of you. You are able to hunt in this area though, which I think it should be illegal sinceIMG_1342 there’s so many people around and because the animals are used to people.  About a week after I had gone up there someone was hunting nearby and shot one of these moose. I’m all for hunting and have nothing against it, except in this instance. If I’m able to get this close with my iPhone then I feel as if it’s an unfair advantage to hunt these particular animals.

Brainard Lake is a 14 acre lake that’s only about eight ft. deep, at an elevation of 10,500 feet. Everytime I’ve read about this lake online it says it’s heavily populated with hikers and that the parking lot is full. I’ve only been up there twice, in the fall, and both times there were only a few other people. IMG_7766

The trip up there was successful for me and I recommend going up there! Brainard Lake Road goes around the lake so it’s not really a hike which makes it good for those IMG_7925who don’t like to hike much or are not able to. There are quite a few trails from the road though so it’s also good for those who do like to hike a lot. A lot of the trails are marked for snowshoeing as well (you can kind of see the blue sign on the tree).

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“The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.”

Brainard Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Ward, Colorado.

September 2014

Photos taken with iPhone 4.

Isabelle Glacier Trail

IMG_8303In September 2014 Jessie and I went up to Brainard Lake  to see if we could find any moose. We were pretty disappointed when we didn’t see any but decided to hike one of the trails we stumbled upon.  IMG_8320

We took the Long Lake trailhead off of Brainard Lake Road and hiked to Long Lake. Jessie and I considered turning IMG_8329back because we weren’t sure if we wanted to go all the way to Isabelle Lake. Two days prior we had hiked our first 14er, Mt. Bierstadt, so we were extremely sore and we hadn’t prepared for a long hike.. We both get hangry when we don’t have snacks.

Since we were already there we decided to venture on. The further we hiked the more beautiful it became; There were more and more wildflowers, including Columbines. It was about a 2,000 ft. elevation gain, starting at 10,500 ft. ending at 12,025 ft.

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It’s definitely worth the trek along side Isabelle Lake and up to the glacier. Once we got past the treeline (typically 12,000 ft here in CO), it was obviously rocky and there was quite a bit of snow.

By the time we returned to the car we were even more sore, tired, and super hungry. It was IMG_9373approximately ten miles round trip but definitely worth it! It was the most gorgeous hike I’ve ever been on and is my favorite hike so far.

We always crave burritos after a long hike so once we got down the mountain we went to Chipotle. We decided our motto is “Hike all day, eat Chipotle!” Haha.

“Wander without purpose or reason.”

Isabelle Glacier Trail, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado.

Photos taken with iPhone 4

Maroon Bells

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Maroon Bells is said to be one of the most photographed places in Colorado, which is totally understandable because as you can see from the photos, it’s absolutely beautiful. As for the hike itself, it’s not a hike to get there. There’s a bus that takes you up and drops you off. There were a lot of tourists and in my opinion, too many people. It was difficult to take pictures without having groups of people in the photos. There are trails which you can hike starting from Maroon Lake and the further you hike, the fewer the people. 10250205_10204147614423937_2785810044448447894_n

The bus ride took about fifteen minutes and just like any tourist location,it was packed. We did see a moose calf on our way up though, that was awesome. Even though I wasn’t a fan of how many people there were, it’s definitely a good spot for pictures and a place to go if you don’t like to hike much.

1966907_10204147615583966_7096865618147193490_nI believe the West Maroon Trail goes to the top of both of the Bells (both 14ers). We just hiked up to Crater Lake, which is about a two mile hike to get up there. It’s fairly easy, especially if you’re used to hiking. It’s good hike for families. 1902948_10204147616303984_277221711472618743_n

The photo on the right is looking back at Maroon Lake from the West Maroon Trail going to Crater Lake.

“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.”

Maroon Bells, Aspen CO. October 2014.

Photos taken with Canon Rebel T5