Posts Tagged ‘Pikes Peak’

Hiking Up to Catamount Lakes, CO

14 June 2010

Last Wednesday, I flew into Colorado Springs for a meeting the next day. After a couple telecons, I headed up to Green Mountain Falls for a hike. I got there about 1345. You HAVE to park in one of the parking lots next to the small lake (with a gazebo in the middle). The roads that lead to the trails are signed with all manner of dreadful threats to tow your car if you park there.

I parked on the east side of the lake, got my pack ready, and headed out. There are trail maps in a mailbox on the sign in front of the west parking lot. I walked most of the length of the town on the main road (Ute Pass Avenue), all the way to the swimming pool. It was pretty hot, and I realized as I approached the pool, I hadn’t filled up my water bottle. There is no place to fill the bottle that I could find around the pool (there is a pump handle in the park the north of the pool, but it was locked). I ended up walking back to the lake. There is a nice little trail on the north side of the creek that runs along Ute Pass, that takes you back to the lake.

There is a water fountain in the northeast corner of the lake park. I took a long drink, and then filled both my Nalgene and a smaller disposable bottle (which came back all the way to OKC and is in recycling here at the house). Then I headed BACK along Ute to find Belvidere.

The trail map shows that you can get on the main trail from either Belvidere or Hondo Avenues. I picked Belvidere to start on, at random, planning on coming back down via Hondo. It’s a long walk on either road, but Hondo is a lot steeper. So if you want to take it easier, I would recommend going up Belvidere and down either Hondo.

Once you get off the road part, the trail starts as a gravel road. It goes up fairly steeply.

As you climb, the view gets better and better. The big road in the distance is US 24.

The Belvidere and Hondo roads come together at the bottom of the Catamount Falls. There is a large structure there was is a water storage tank for the town. One thing I found funny – the structure is a water tank, it’s made of stone and concrete, and there is nothing flammable about it, but there is a fire plug in front of it.

One neat thing, right here I met two guys who had been backpacking for five days around Pikes Peak. We talked for a bit, and I talked to one of them about Scouts, and how to choose a troop for his 10-year-old son.

The “gentle” road now gives way to rocks – you have to do some serious stairstepping up this trail.

The first part of the trail follows Catamount Falls up a couple hundred feet. The waterfalls are a set of tumbles over rocks. I stopped a number of times on the way up to just watch the water a bit.

One thing I noticed a lot on the hike was growth on the cedar trees. Big or small, most of the trees had an inch or so of new twig growth, and it was really pretty. This picture is from a small, perfect holiday tree.

After am initial steep rock stair, the trail became a bit more of a combination of packed dirt, rocks, and tree roots. A number of places, there are tree trunks that have fallen over the trail.

A couple hundred feet up, a side trail runs out to an overlook.

There is not much chance of getting lost on this trail 🙂

After a significant amount of “up”, with a number of switchbacks, you go over a ridge, down just a bit, and you enter a grove that is named “Garden of Eden”. I looked but did not see any snakes or apple trees.

This part of the hikes follows the stream again, and there are more tumbling small waterfalls. I heard a couple rumbles of thunder to the north as I walked here, and was looking for rocks to hide under of lightning in my area became evident.

Eventually, you reach another road. Doing research later, I found that this road is a loop of the main road that goes up Pikes Peak. There was a water measurement gauge at the place the trail meets the road. The small pond had some trout in it, and this small water snake, so maybe there was an apple tree around there somewhere.

After walking a while along the road, you come to the dam for South Lake Catamount. I climbed right up the dam backside, and found myself on a dam road. Right in front of me, across the lake – Pikes Peak.

I really liked the thunderstorm to the east of the Peak.

This is looking from the dam road back down the road I had walked in on.

I walked along the dam road, and up a bit more, and found the road to North Lake Catamount. Turns out this had a dam road to walk on also.

The thunderstorm east of Pikes had matured a little bit.

The peak to the west of Pikes looks to be volcanic to me. I really liked the snow bridges that were still there.

The lakes had one surprise to me. There were probably 20 vehicles up there at the two lakes, and people from those vehicles were fishing.

I headed back down after spending a half hour or so at the lakes. I made good progress down, and stopped for about 20 minutes in the “saddle” area right before the trail became switchbacks again.

I saw little wildlife. I number of birds, a couple squirrels and chipmunks. I saw deer scat. The area was warned for mountain lions.

One thing I liked about walking through the houses in town – a lot of the properties are named by the residents (things like “Aspen Glen”). I saw a disturbing number of OU flags and placards outside houses, but also one orange OSU flag.

As I left town after the hike, I drove up US 24 to get some dinner in Woodland Park. I got a good view of the area I just hiked. I don’t know the area well enough to know exactly what the path is, but I know it was UP.

Here is an overlay of the GPS track data onto Google Maps.

Here is a plot of the altitude for the hike.

I felt GREAT after this hike. It was a long distance, and went up pretty high, at a high altitude to begin with. It was absolutely beautiful. A wonderful way to spend the afternoon. The GPS reports that the hike was 8.7 miles round trip. You can see from the track overlay that a significant portion of that was from the center of town to the trailhead. You can also see a smaller loop at the end that is my walk on the south dam road, then up to the end at the north dam road.

In the summer, take extra water. I went through my big Nalgene and half of the smaller bottle.


Why I Hike

10 June 2010

I am standing on the dam for North Lake Catamount, CO. I can turn my head different directions and see the canyon I just walked up, a lake, Pikes Peak, or a thunderstorm or three. There are bird songs, the lapping of the waves, the blowing of the wind through the aspen nearby.

I am tired but very content. Nature all around me keeps me charged up in a most relaxing way.

A couple amusing things. I am making a blog post in real time because… I can. There is good EDGE coverage here. There are a number of people up here; they are fishing in the lake, having drove up here.

Nonetheless, this area is just beautiful. I’m glad I am able to be here.

Some Cool Things From The Air, 04 April 2010

14 April 2010

I flew back home from Salt Lake City on 04 April 2010, via DFW. Saw some pretty neat things.

As we left SLC to the south, we flew back west, then north, then between Salt Lake City and Prov0, then turned back to the SE. I had an indistinct view of the copper mine southwest of SLC. The big copper smelter got a good look:

This is a pond used to hold tailings runoff. Note the distinct copper-blue color.

It’s hard to tell through the clouds, but that’s Hill Air Force Base in Provo, UT.

After we flew over the Wasatch, I saw this lake. It took some Googling, but this is East Canyon Reservoir and State Park, UT.

We flew over the Unitas Range in Utah. This mountain range is distinctive in that it is the only range in North America that runs west to east. I was astounded by the sheer amount of snow! These are some pretty tall and very rugged mountains, but they were almost completely obscured by huge snows.

This extremely rugged area features Mt Agassiz to the bottom of the picture.

I have not been able to find any names, but from a bit of Googling, these mountains are the home of Upper Ottoson Lake and Lower Ottoson Lake.

We flew for a while with clouds obsuring the gound. After a bit, I got a view of the ground, and saw this. It is Lake County Airport. The town of Leadville, CO is off to the upper left of the photo.

One thing that is cool about this airport. It is at roughly 9600ft. Off to the south end of the runway, the terrain drops off about 500ft. Hope you’ve got airspeed…

Just a bit farther on, we had a great view of Pikes Peak.

Just a bit farther on, we crossed the Front Range area. This is the Canon City, CO, looking east.

I saw this structure just a minute later. From a bit of map reading, it turns out that this is the United States Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX), i.e. a “supermax” prison, in Florence, Colorado. Looks quite cheerless.

This is a nice view along the Arkansas River in the Colorado plain. The facilities are cement mines or manufacturers.

This is Pikes Peak and Cheyenne Mountain again, from the south.

Again in the theme of cement, this facility is just south of Pueblo, CO. I did a lot of web scouring with no luck; Google shows the facility, but it is clearly under construction. I sent the photo to the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce, and a very helpful reply came back a couple days later that it looked like the new Grupo Cementos cement plant. That led to an annual report, which included a photo of a facility that looked a lot like the shot I took. So, I call it a state-of-the-art cement plant that feeds on limestone. There is a pit to the NW that is on “Lime Road”.

We flew southwest for a while. I was on the left side of the airplane. Philmont and the Sangre de Cristos were off to the right.

We overflew the Oklahoma Panhandle, then into the Texas Panhandle. This is Boise City, OK.

Just southeast of Boise City, I saw these two groups of wind generators. I am utterly fascinated by these. My very cute and long-suffering roommate has been subjected to several episodes of driving to wind farms just to watch them. The little town in the distance is Texhoma, TX.

This is Shamrock, TX. I barely looked out the window in time to get the camera fired up.

This is Mangum, OK, in the southwestern part of the state.

The quality here isn’t really good, but this is Lake Altus and Quartz Mountain State Park in southwestern OK. I’ve been camping there, and hiked and rock climbed all over it.

This is Altus, OK, and then a closeup of Altus Air Force Base. I’ve been down here twice to see the Shuttle on a refueling stop.

After we landed at DFW, I got on another Super 80 for OKC. This is the Dolese crushed-limestone quarry that is on the northern edge of the Arbuckle Mountains in south-central Oklahoma.

We also overflew the National Weather Center on the OU Norman campus.

This is the Native American Museum on the banks of the Oklahoma River southeast of downtown Oklahoma City.

I have another shot of the museum from a previous trip, and you can see that some progress is being made in construction.

Finally, we flew a little farther north over Oklahoma City, and so we got a good view of the Zoo, part of Remington Park, and the National Softball Hall of Fame.

That’s it!