Category Archives: Hiking/Backpacking

Waldo Canyon Loop Trail

Yesterday, my family hit the Waldo Canyon Loop Trail. We hadn’t been able to go hiking in quite a while, due to conflicting schedules and other plans, so it was nice to get out.

My Boyfriend found the trail using AllTrails, and downloaded the map, which is a nice feature of the app. We had an embarrassing amount of trouble finding the trailhead, as the dropped pin on Google maps was about a mile off. After we passed the dropped pin, we pulled into a small parking lot on the side of the highway to turn around. After driving around a bit, unable to find the place, we realized that parking lot we turned around in was actually our trail head – doh!

Once we got going, and hiked far enough for the highway to be out of earshot, we quite liked the trail. We enjoyed the thick woods as well as the scenic views. The trail itself seemed well-maintained, which I surely appreciated. There was evidence that a tree had fallen onto the trail, but had been cut and moved out of the way. Further down, there was a nice bench made of polished logs made by a local scout troop

This was the first hike that Molly wore her dog backpack for. It fits a bit awkward on her as she’s too large for a small, but a bit too petite for the medium-sized pack that I bought. Still, it didn’t seem bother her at all, and she loves putting it on as she knows it means going somewhere fun (we’ve had her wear it to the dog park to get used to it.) It was really nice not to have to unpack ourselves to give Molly food and water when she needed it, she had that herself. In one side of her pack, she had her water, on the other side, she had her food and a collapsible bowl with compartments for food and water. You can carry your own things now, dog!

Sadly, as we had a late start, we weren’t able to complete the trail and had to turn back early. It was getting dark by the time we made it back to our car. It would be nice to return to this trail another time.

Manitou Incline

I went up the Manitou Incline with my boyfriend and my dog earlier in the week. The soreness is only just now starting to get better.

In an effort to get back into/stay in shape, my boyfriend goes up the incline frequently. The last time he went without me, he brought the dog. He wasn’t the only one to bring a canine companion, as doing so seems to be quite popular with other climbers (the incline is more of a climb than a hike.) Kindly, he let other thirsty fur-friends drink out of Molly’s water dish. He said that bringing the dog earned him lot’s of attention. He jokingly lamented being taken already.

Anyway, this time I came along. It was only my second time up the incline. I don’t think it was as bad as the first time (I was dying the first time I went up – couldn’t breathe.) I got light-headed a few times during the ascent, but I did alright. Maybe I should climb it more often? The view from the top was just as stunning as ever.

We took the Barr Trail down. I enjoyed running down that, in the sections of trail where doing so was safe enough. Some day, I’d like to go up the Barr instead of down. I’d like to hike all the way to the summit of Pike’s Peak.

Mt. Cutler and AllTrails

This week, my family of three (with eight legs between us) hiked up Mt. Cutler in Cheyenne Canyon. It was a short, out and back type trail, not even a mile each way, according to my boyfriend’s GPS and a handy app on my iPhone (more on the app later,) but it took us about 45 minutes to get to the top of Mt. Cutler.

The reason the trail took us so long was because there was hard packed snow and ice on the shadowed side of the mountain where the hike begins. It was very, very slippery, especially when we came back down. Once we got to the sunny side, however, snow was no longer a problem and I happily removed my coat.

We saw a few other people on the trail. There was a jogger in shorts, a t-shirt, and running shoes with ice cleats (I still need to get some for my boots,) and a few other hikers. One other hiker stands out though. On the return trip, I fell a few times, landing safely on my backpack, so I was shocked to see a man hiking up with a baby strapped to his back. I foresaw bad things happening…

Molly gave us some reason to worry. She followed my BF up a steep incline off the side of the trail, at his encouragement (bad BF!) Suddenly, I felt a cloud of rocks and dirt fall over my head. My dog had tried to run back down, but instead of taking the dirt path she had on the way up, she took the most direct rout to me. This direct rout was over steep rocks and loose gravel. She fell and got into a bit of a tumble before righting herself. She gave me such a scare, but she wasn’t hurt.

At the top, we enjoyed some victory jerky and took in the view. At only 7231 ft, Mt. Cutler was hardly an impressive mountain. It was barely a hill next to the giants that surrounded it. But it was quick and easy and introduced me to the other trails and peaks in the area to try for another day when we have more time.

As for the view, it was quite nice. :)

Down in front!

I can see Commo Hill from here. When I was in the Army, my platoon would occasionally run up and down that thing. I was not a fan of that.

AllTrails App

I just recently purchased an iPhone, and I love it! I’ve spent hours looking for awesome apps and I’ve found quite a few.

For this trip to Mt. Cuter, I used AllTrails for the first time, and it was just fantastic! I’m still figuring out all of the features, but so far I’ve found that I can:

  • Browse and search for trails nearby, and get driving directions to them from Google Maps.
  • View topographical maps of trails.
  • View trail information such as difficulty, usage, obstacles, type, duration, distance, and elevation gain.
  • Download trail information before I head out so I can access it offline.
  • Use my phone’s GPS to track my hike so my course is marked.
  • Read and write reviews for trails
  • Add new trails to the database or edit existing ones.
  • Read and write trail reviews as well as view and add trail photos.

This app was very useful today in helping us pick a trail, and was fun to play with and explore along the hike. I highly recommend getting it yourself if you have an iPhone, iPad, or Android. It’s FREE!


Seven Bridges Trail

This week, the air warmed slightly, and restless from being mostly stuck indoors, my BF, dog, and I decided to go for a nice day hike. Our destination for the day was the Seven Bridges Trail in  North Cheyenne Canon. I had been there once before with my company while I was still in the Army and pending medical discharge. I kept my trail map. I’ve been wanting to go back again for some time, and I finally convinced my boyfriend.

The last time I went, the weather was cool, but one quickly began to feel warm as the day went on and as they did the hard work of hiking the steep incline and occasional patches of rough terrain. Whereas I was at first mocked for bringing along my backpack, towards the end I found myself carrying other people’s coats and sweaters in addition to my own. Ah, and now they understand the importance of planning ahead.

This time, it was winter. This means that instead of slipping on loose gravel, I was slipping on ice and packed snow. I was immediately wishing that I had cleats for my boots. I admit to being envious of my dog, with her four legs, low center of gravity, and claws. I fell a few times.

We stopped for food at bridge #3. Subway sandwiches for the BF and me. We hadn’t really planned to go camping that day, so I didn’t have time to prepare a packed lunch. I was more interested in restocking my pack. For Molly, a couple of hot dogs did quite nicely. I could have brought her normal dog food, but with so many interesting sights and smells, she wouldn’t have been interested in it. So I brought her something special to snack on.

We had a great time out hiking and managed to time it so we got back to our car just before it got dark.

A few lessons learned:

  1. Bring spare batteries for the GPS. BF always brings his GPS, so I was surprised to learn that his heavy pack didn’t include batteries. I had a map, as one should, but we didn’t really need either. The trail was pretty clear and we didn’t wander.
  2. At BF’s suggestion, I carried a full gallon of water in my pack. We each had our own small bottles of drink, and Molly didn’t drink what I poured into her bowl. Basically, I got roped into carrying the extra weight for nothing. Extra water is great to bring, but that was excessive.
  3. DO NOT WEAR COTTON SOCKS! Just don’t. Preferably, don’t wear cotton anything, but especially don’t wear cotton socks.
  4. Hiking boots meant for snow might be a good idea. I should have brought the winter boots the Army issued me, but I took my summers without really thinking about it. Didn’t go too bad, but still wasn’t a great idea.
  5. Ice cleats and trekking poles.

And here I was beginning to wonder if Hiking Humanist would become an artifact title. I was considering re-naming the blog Assorted Rants of the Spinster Heathen, or something.

Molly The Mountain Dog

Yesterday, we took Molly on a nice hike in the mountains. This wasn’t the first time we’d taken her on a dayhike. We took her to Garden Of The Gods and wandered the trails in the woods before. It made for a great, though short trip. The only problem was keeping her attention. We weren’t the only ones on the trail. There were hikers, joggers, and it was clear that horses had been through as well. Everything was a distraction so we had to hold her leash short.

We had no such issue this time, as we took her up onto some trails in the mountains where we like to go offroading. Yesterday, there was no one around. Molly was just a delight, she stayed on the trail and listened to every command. She didn’t even try to chase the squirrel that she saw. She had a blast, trotting ahead of us a few yards, her nose to the ground the whole time, then stopping to look back at us over her shoulder as if to say, “Hurry up, slowpokes!” She’s a smart dog, never wandering too far ahead. If she went around the corner and could no longer see us, she’d come bounding back. A few times, my boyfriend and I would just suddenly stop walking and be very quiet, only to giggle at how the dog would immediately stop and look over he shoulder to make sure we were still there.

She has small paws, and trimmed claws, and seemed to have an issue with traction. So did I, in my military issue desert boots. Off the side of the trail you have the slope of the mountain, which is rock covered by a layer of dirt and some fallen vegetation. The ground tended to slip away under you if you strayed from the trail too much. But it was the bare rock outcrops that worried me. Molly liked to prop herself up on them so she could peer over the edge. It was hard not to worry about her slipping off. She wouldn’t fall far, it’s not as if we were on a cliff face, but I don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Thankfully, Molly minded her step.

As we got climbed higher, we encountered more snow, and Molly went nuts. This dog gets so excited around snow. I don’t know if she really loves snow or if the cold makes her want to move more for warmth, but she wagged her tail like crazy and charged all around, only stopping to bury her face in the powder. My boyfriend managed to snap a picture of her with snow on her nose. We had a good laugh when he put it on his facebook page with the caption, “Retired drug dogs have some issues.” He might have a somewhat twisted sense of humor, but so do I so we’re a great match.

Eventually, it did come time to leave. It was getting dark and we knew snow would be rolling in soon. We stopped our truck a few times on our way down the mountain. Once to take a picture of a shot up sign, another time for BF to adjust his lights. At one of these stop, I noticed Molly, who was normally very still during car rides, and twisted her seatbelt harness around herself. As I was correcting it, I noticed that her paw was bleeding lightly. The poor thing ripped her dew claw again, as she had done the day prior. As before, she didn’t limp or whine or give any indication that she was bothered at all. As my BF had brought his medic bag, he quickly patched her up and now she’s doing just fine. I do worry about dew claws. I’m not convinced that a surgery to remove them is worth the risks or the stress to her, but I am looking in to dew claw protectors.

The three of us had a really great time. I’m hoping we can go once more before the weather makes that impossible. After today’s excitement, Molly was very much ready for bed. All she was waiting for was us.

Lessons Learned: 

  • Watch the dew claws. They could snag.
  • People aren’t the only ones who might need first aid so be prepared. I have a first aid kid just for the dog. On a related point, know what’s in the aid kid and where to find it.
  • Dogs seem to never look at the camera when you want them to. Somehow, they always know…
  • Remove the dog’s harness if it would absorb moisture. No one wants something wet on them when it’s cold out.
  • Dogs are not impressed by chess.

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