Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fort Collins: Spring Canyon Community Park

Today Mike and I loaded our bicycles in to the car and headed to the Pineridge Natural Area in Fort Collins to ride some of the easy dirt trails on our mountain bikes but the dirt trails were closed because they still very wet and muddy. So after we rode the paved trails around Spring Canyon Community Park, which is located just east of Pineridge Natural Area, we found a dirt trail on the north side of the park that headed east. The trail didn't stay dry for long, but it met up with a paved trail that took up to the Spring Creek Trail.

A dry trail at Spring Canyon Community Park turns slushy and slick, we stayed on pavement for the rest of the day

Mike heading east out of the Spring Canyon Community Park

Looking west toward Pineridge Natural Area from Spring Canyon Community Park

It was a beautiful day, sunny and in the low 50’s. There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground. I have not been on the Spring Creek Trail this far west yet.

Taking a break on Spring Creek Trail

Mike on Spring Creek Trail

Back at Spring Canyon Community Park

Cool wood sculptures at Spring Canyon Community Park

That's a big kitty cat

Where do you think he's going with that?

We rode the Spring Creek Trail through the Ross Natural Area, Roland Moore Park and Fischer Natural Area. The actual Spring Creek Trail continues east, this section of the trail that we were on through the Fischer Natural Area dead ended at Stuart Street. We turned around and headed back the way we came, back to Spring Canyon Community Park and the parking lot. We rode about 7 - 8 miles today.

We parked the car at Spring Canyon Community Park and rode the Spring Creek Trail east (high-lighted section) about 7 miles round trip

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Snowshoeing: Young’s Gulch

I was signed up to snowshoe with a group this weekend. We were supposed to head out and snowshoe around Cameron Pass, but as the date approached and the weather was looking iffy at the pass, the location got changed to Red Feather Lakes. I was actually happy about the change since I haven’t snowshoed Red Feather Lakes area yet.

When I showed up this morning to snowshoe I found out that since Fort Collins received some snow a few days, we were going to be snowshoeing Young’s Gulch trail, just outside of Fort Collins

Young’s Gulch trail is located 2 miles up the Poudre Canyon on the south side of Highway 14. This trail was actually on my “to hike” list so I was happy that we were going to snowshoe it today. The trail follows Young Creek and the trail crosses the creek 3 dozen times. There are only a few bridges on this trail, the rest of the water crossings have to be done by just jumping from rock to rock or walking or riding through the creek. This trail is very popular with mountain bikers.

Crossing Young Creek

This trail supposedly has 3 dozen water crossings

Most of the creek crossings along this trail have no bridges, but a few did

Young’s Gulch trail is 4.4 miles one way and climbs 1,300 feet in elevation. I read that the first two miles of the trail are the most technical. Besides the creek, there are rock formations and aspens along the trail. Also bears and mountain lions have been seen in this area.

The group and I only snowshoed about 2 miles of the trail before stopping to eat our lunches and turning back around. The temperatures were already in the low 40’s by mid morning and the snow was melting off the trail fast. The stream crossings were interesting, especially wearing snowshoes. Many in the group ended up taking their snowshoes off, it was just easier to hike without them.

As for riding mountain bikes on this trail. There is no way I could ride my mountain bike here, I’m such a newbie. At least not the first two miles that I snowshoed today. The trail was very rocky. Comparing this trail to some of the other trails that are used by mountain bikes, I’d say that that Young’s Gulch trail is easier than the Ginny Trail at Bobcat Ridge but more technical then Hewlett Gultch Trail just east of here. To my surprise on a beautiful Saturday like today, there wasn’t a lot of other people hiking this trail, besides the group I was with, and no one riding mountain bikes. It was still early, we finished snowshoeing at noon.

And in “it’s a small world” category. A fellow blogger and motorcycle rider, among other things, was also snowshoeing with this group. I found Felix’s blog when I was still living in Chicago researching moving to Fort Collins, and I’m still reading it. After snowshoeing Felix and I compared notes on touring. Although his stories were of touring cross country on a mountain bike. Now that’s hard core!

Distance: 4.4 miles one way
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation gain: 1300 feet
Elevation at Trailhead: 5840 feet

Friday, March 27, 2009

XC Skiing: Coyote Ridge Natural Area

Unlike yesterday, today the sun was shining brightly. There was plenty of snow on the ground, but it was melting fast even tough it was only 30 degrees. I wanted to take advantage of the snow and get some cross county skiing in close to home, so I drove about five miles to the Coyote Ridge Natural Area just south of Fort Collins.

Heading to the foothills

Coyote Ridge sign at the entrance (left), a bunny in the snow at Coyote Ridge (right)

It was only 10AM and but already the warm spring sun was melting the snow on the trail. There a few sections of the trail that had no snow on it and a few sections with very deep snow drifts.

Snow already melting on the trail

Looking back at the trail from the first ridge

Action shot using the timer on my camera

Tracks from climbing a hill

The view from the ground-level

It was definitely harder to ski on an un-groomed trail. I had two falls, one climbing through a snow drift and one coming down a hill. This was the first time I’ve fallen on skis. Trying to get up is interesting, especially without taking the skis off.

Hanging out on the deck of the cabin

The cabin in the distance and a prairie dog

Skiing up the second big ridge

Up on the ridge, that's Fort Collins in the distance on the right

Skiing back down the ridge (left), a lot of snow has melted, you can see my old ski tracks in the middle patch of snow left on the trail (right)

With all the snow melted off the trail, I had to ski on snow on top of the grass

Back at the trailhead, I skied up that second ridge and back

By the time I turned around and headed back to the trailhead, there was a lot of bare trail showing and I had t ski through the grass. It was a good time and I managed to ski about 4 miles.

The trail is 7 miles round trip from the trailhead, about half of the trail is on the Coyote Ridge Natural Area and the other half is in Rimrock Open Space

Thursday, March 26, 2009

XC Skiing out the Backdoor

It was in the 70’s a few days ago and today a foot of snow fell on Fort Collins. While that wasn’t great news for all the people trying to get to and from work, it was good news for me. I’ve wanted to go cross country skiing again and today all I had to do was go out the backdoor and start skiing.

Skiing out the backdoor of my house

Pre-ride poser shot in the backyard

Making tracks

My dirt riding goggles worked pretty good

I checked the weather and saw that the winds were going to pick up in the early afternoon, so I got ready and went out there in the late morning. It was only 18 degrees out so I bundles up.

Taking a break

Let it snow

Going up a hill

I headed in to the open space behind the house skiing on top walking/bicycling path. Then 30 minutes from the house the white out conditions began - the wind started blowing 30mph or more. I kept going. I couldn’t see much because of the white out conditions and at some point I thought that maybe I was insane, I was the only person out there. So after two miles a few fun hills I started to head back home and then….. I had to cross the street so I took my skis off, and I couldn’t put one of them back on. I had so much snow caked and iced up in my binding that my ski wouldn’t clip in anymore. I was on the sidewalk, the passing cars were giving me weird looks and I could not get my boot clipped in. The wind was blowing so hard that I had a hard time standing on one foot while trying to get the other one clipped in to my binding.

With the snow and wind, it's hard to see the lake and the houses

Snow covered buds on a tree

After a while I decide that there was no way I was going to get the binding cleared of snow when the snow was constantly blowing at me, so I gimped back to the house by putting the boot down on the ski and kind of pushing and sliding it along. So after 4 miles I get home and the wind stops blowing.

After 4 miles I made it back home

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bicycle, bicycle…all I want to ride

I felt amazingly good today for having climbed a 13er yesterday. The weather was warm so I had to get out and do something.

Some “unofficial” single tracks near the house