Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Itinerary: Colorado | October 12-16, 2017

Only a few short days until I board a red-eye flight to Denver and spend a wonderful four days in Colorado.

The plan is to get into CO late on a Thursday night and dart up to the Fraser Valley. Friday will be spent acclimating to the altitude and excitedly catching up with best, close friends in Winter Park and Granby where I used to live. To break in the boots with Colorado soil again, I'll probably hike up a few of the Snow Mountain peaks at YMCA of the Rockies (where I used to work), and of course visit my old stomping grounds. Come Saturday I'll be in Rocky Mountain National Park at sunrise to depart from the Bowen-Baker Trailhead. From there it's upwards in elevation through the Never Summer Wilderness in the Arapaho National Forest for about seven miles to Parika Lake, at the base of 12,394ft Parika Peak, where I'll camp for a night above treeline and depending on conditions, hike up to the top. Day two, I'll hike north up to Baker Pass and camp within the gulch at dusk. The morning of day three I'll trek back to the trailhead, hop in the car and drive down to the front range (Denver area) to catch a late flight back home. Depending on the trails and if I can summit Parika Peak if weather allows, the total hike should be close to 18-20 miles. I'll be mirroring this route I found.

What I've come to realize will  be the most challenging and cautionary consideration about this particular trip into the backcountry, is the weather. Conditions at that level of elevation, at that time frame in Colorado vary drastically. I did a few miles of this hike years ago at the same time, middle of October, and it was in the upper 60s. The past weeks, there've been inches upon inches of snow dumped in Rocky Mountain National Park, followed by day temperatures in the 50s. I've been monitoring weather reports daily to see the trends. I'm packing and preparing for it as if it were a fall backpacking trip and winter. Much of the initial approach hike to Parika Lake could be warm, fall-like and snow-less but once I get above 11,000 feet, it could be white everywhere and even more wintery up at the top of Baker Pass or Parika Peak. Honestly, I don't think I've ever been so eager to go on a trip. Earlier this past summer I went through a ruse that's since left some unexpectedly strong damage and discouragement. It's seriously thrown me off and something I've been battling for months now. I've been craving just an escape to recollect, refocus and recharge. Mountains are clearly the best for that. There are trips I want to go on...but then there are trips that I need to go on for my own bettering sake. This particular trip falls under the needs facet

Since the beginning of August I've been researching the route, mapping things out and buying new gear (which I'll blog about the fun new stuff I bought later). When I haven't been sick, which has obnoxiously been the case almost the past three weeks on-and-off, I've been hitting the gym daily to swim, lift or get acquainted with the stair masters so I can be in top physical shape come October 14.

Well I'm off to go dehydrate some more veggies and fruit. I'll be checking-in/keeping track of the trip through my GPS beacon here if you want to follow along. PS- you should try dehydrated strawberries, oh they're so delicious!

P.S.-Check out my latest freelance piece up on Hooniverse.com
P.P.S-I'm heading to Pinnacles National Park in California this coming January!

Cheers and stay tuned,

On the iPod...


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Rocky Arbor State Park, WI

Here's another smaller state park property you should make the effort to stop by and explore at some point, especially with its close proximity to the bustling Wisconsin Dells area, aka the Las Vegas of the Midwest. There are two state parks in the Wisconsin Dells proximity- Mirror Lake (which is gorgeous) and the one this blog post is dedicated to, Rocky Arbor.

At 244 acres, Rocky Arbor State Park is definently one of the tinier state parks in the system but its definently got its own unique charm and doesn't disappoint. The main draw is the campground, with 89 sites in a wooded setting, about 18 of which offer electrical hookups. It's close enough to the interstate and the main Wisconsin Dells attraction areas to provide an outdoor escape for those looking to soak up a bit of nature while on vacation. And a brief escape into solitude it was for me it was on my drive back to Milwaukee from an epic weekend up at Roche-A-Cri State Park.

This is a park you'll only need an hour or so at to take it all in. There's only one main hiking trail about a mile or so long, but it's a great trail that takes you past some very, very, very wild-looking, intriguing, stellar rock formations caked in all sorts of vegetation. The trail starts at the west end of the parking lot and heads into the woods. Take your time and slowly trek your way down the trail, pausing every so often to look at the waves and jagged rock ledges. The shapes, textures and colors are crazy cool. A lot of these formations were just mind-boggling to look at and try to comprehend. The trail carves its way parallel along the rock ledges and on the left side is a serene marsh. At one point along the hike, a towering huge rock juts out of the marsh between you and the rock ledge. Clearly if you're a tree geek like I am, this park is loaded with a perfect swath of trees darting upwards from all the rock. You'll eventually scale some creaky wooden steps to reach the remainder of the looped trail that follows the ridge of the rock ledge. You're in hardwood forest now until you get back down again to the fork, which takes you back to your car. It's a short, simple and fun little hike.

The main gate into the park closes during its off-season (Labor day to Memorial Day), but you're still welcome to park in front of the gate and hike in. And you should! Cross another park off my list? Check. Enjoy the photos below.


On the iPod...