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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.

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!


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.

Soldiers, dogs, and bears, oh my!

Last week my company went up to North Cheyenne Canon Park for a nice change of scenery. Those of us who were able (many of us weren’t because of disabilities) went on a nice group hike up the mountain a piece. I had quite a lot of fun and met some other hikers from other platoons.

A few people laughed at me for bringing my backpack. “Mountain lions won’t attack you if they think you’re a turtle!” They weren’t laughing anymore when they needed somewhere to stow their sweaters and jackets as they warmed up.

Apart from my first aid kit and shed clothing layers, my backpack was mostly empty. I wanted to get used to hiking with it, since I haven’t been on a ruck march since AIT.

I really missed camelback. I had a side puch attached to the side of my pack where I kept my Gatorade, but it wasn’t as easy to reach as I had hoped it would be. At least I brought something though. Not everyone did.

Afterwards, we drove through the mountain (yes, through. Supposedly, those tunnels are haunted,) to the local dog park where we had a nice cookout (and I made a few canine friends.) I also learned, while there, that one of the legs to my brand new charcoal (because charcoal tastes better) grill is broken.

I also discovered that, to open a bear-proof garbage can, I should read the printed instructions lest I be laughed at. I must have been a bear in a former life. Lol.

There have been a few bear sightings in the area since I went by other people in the company. One was just a couple bears crossing the road. Not a big deal. The other story was more disturbing. Apparently, there were a couple of cubs hanging out near the trail I used, which is bad enough considering how mama bear would have reacted if she knew, but it get’s worse. People were dumb enough to feed them. If that doesn’t worry you, it should.

And I’m not much concerned about grizzlies as they don’t seem to inhabit this state anymore. And normally, I wouldn’t worry much about a black bear encounter either. They’re usually pretty skittish animals and would try to avoid people. However, even black bears can be dangerous, especially if they learn to associate people with food. I’m considering picking up some bear mace.

In any case, I’m looking forward to going again soon.

Lessons Learned:

  • Start small with hikes and light with gear.
  • Going up with make you out of breath, but it’s going down that will hurt.
  • Dress in layers and have a pack to keep any closed to remove.
  • Bring a drink, make sure it’s accessible.
  • Don’t count on others to bring a first-aid kit, bring your own. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
  • Watch your step because not everyone cleans up after their dogs.
  • CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOGS!
  • Elk, at least the way it was grilled there, is impossible to eat. Oh, it tasted fine, but it was so tough no one could chew it.
  • DON’T FEED THE BEARS!
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