The Mountain Fought Back

The Mountain Fought Back

Lack of sleep and a 3,000′ ascent with the wind blowing in your face is not an idealistic adventure. But, in our defense, we’re stubborn. Mt Audubon is still a nemesis to us, always fighting us as we make our way to its summit, yet somehow, the relationship we share with the mountain seems to work. As expected, the mountain fought back.

We were overly eager to get back in the Colorado high country after having taken a week off from hiking. We set the goal of heading to one of our all-time favorite areas, the Indian Peaks Wilderness, to pay a visit to a nemesis of ours, Mt Audubon which sits at 13,223′ above sea level.

The trail is fairly aggressive, up hill all the way and mostly above treeline. Seems every time we attempt this strenuous alpine adventure the mountain always finds a way to fight back! This outing would not be an exception to that rule.

Once again, we had a fight on our hands. Our plan was a three in the morning wake-up call. Somewhere between seven the night before and two the next morning we were able to get about two or three hours of sleep. We’re blaming that on the full moon.

For some unknown reason, we got ourselves up and out the door and were on the trail by 4:30 in the morning. Headlamps on, bear spray in hand and a less than desirable caffeine level we wandered off into the dark woods awaiting the first light of day.

Amazingly, we broke treeline just as the sun came over the horizon. Wow, what a sight. We began to awaken with the dark now giving way to light.

The night before our hike we looked up the weather for the region and summit of Mt Audubon one last time. Mild temperatures, little to no wind and clear skies were in our favor. Anyone who knows mountain weather will feel our pain on what came next. As we approached the cutoff for the trail that lead to the summit, the wind came vigorously down off the peak and hit us smack in the face! Little to no wind? It would stay this way throughout the duration of our hike, well, until we got back down anyway. We’ve grown to understand that Mt Audubon also has a sense of humor.

Still somewhat half asleep we opted to bypass the summit trail and head off into an area we had never explored. Off trail exploration is something of a comedy act with us, we’re always surprised at our findings as much what those findings lead to. We followed the Beaver Creek trail for about a mile and then headed for a ridgeline to get a view down into the valley where Upper and Lower Coney Lakes sit.

It wasn’t long and we found ourselves navigating a snow field, scree and thick alpine scrub brush. And we thought we were alone! Once again we were looking at each other with that awkward stare of, “what now?” We were surrounded by bear scat and had just about wandered into a den when we found ourselves in quick retreat!

The conversation went something like this, “What’s that? Bear scat. It’s everywhere. (twig snaps followed by grunting sounds from bush) Was that you? No. We need to go…now!”

Back on the trail and laughing at ourselves, we did an about-face and made our way back towards Mt Audubon. Little sleep, certainly not enough coffee, and now full of adrenaline, we were deliriously hiking along. “Hey, you know what, the summit really isn’t that far and we’ve dealt with the wind before.” What is far? It was an additional two miles and another 2,000′ to the summit!

Stubborn, determined or just insane, we made our way up. Loose scree and talus fields are no fun when you are half-asleep. The debate is still out on the actual amount of oxygen at 13,000′ and we are still not sure what grumbled at us earlier. Suffice it to say, we had another incredible day in the Colorado high country and can’t wait to go again.

The views (see video below) were amazing to say the least. What followed as we made or way back to the trailhead can only be described as a sad, yet graceful, fall off the mountain. We must have appeared drunk.

Lack of sleep and a 3,000′ ascent with the wind blowing in your face is not an idealistic adventure. Mt Audubon is still a nemesis to us, always fighting us as we make our way to its summit, yet somehow, the relationship we share with the mountain seems to work. As expected, the mountain fought back.

Peace,

MAD

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Addicted to Hiking

Find a Hiking Trail

Pawnee Peak, Pawnee Pass, Pawnee Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Continental Divide, MAD Hippies Life, Addicted to Hiking

After years of hiking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we’ve finally accepted that we are addicted to hiking. There’s just no substitute for being in the high country, apart from modern civilization and left to explore the raw and untamed wild.

Our latest adventure in the backcountry of Colorado took us high into the Indian Peaks Wilderness, past several lakes, across clear running streams and eventually above the timberline where the views were as vast as the eye can see and the mind can imagine. Pawnee Pass and Peak, a mountain pass and peak high on the Continental Divide, would serve us well on this day!

Lake Isabelle, Long Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, MAD Hippies Life, Addicted to Hiking

We were captivated by towering mountain peaks as the landscape slowly changed from serene forests to an otherworldly alpine environment. Glaciers, marmots and jagged peaks were our company as the hustle and bustle of the city was light years away. Indeed, we had removed ourselves from society altogether and were now witness to nature in all of its glory.

Funny how after a long hike, when you are on your last leg, one mile left to go to get back to your vehicle, and you start talking to yourself about finding easier hikes in the future. And yet, after a good shower, meal and some much needed rest, you are already dreaming of the next adventure, further, deeper and higher into the recesses of the mountains.

Pawnee Pass Trail, Lake Isabelle, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Alpine Adventure, MAD Hippies Life, Addicted to Hiking

We are not in this for a speed contest, we are not peak baggers and by and far it is not about boasting. This is simply two love-struck teenagers about to turn fifty seeking to enjoy life one experience at a time. Taking long hikes, backpacking overnight or just a quick day hike is soothing to our soul. Sure, our bodies are put to the test, but that is a good thing. We want to be healthy, keep active and live a fulfilled and invigorating life.

Indeed, after years of hiking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we’ve finally accepted that we are addicted to hiking. There’s just no substitute for being in the high country, apart from modern civilization and left to explore the raw and untamed wild.

Peace,

MAD

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Lake Isabelle Early Spring Hike

Winter Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

This is indeed why we hike, why we seek the solace of the high country and why we love sharing our experiences that others might be inspired to step out of their comfort zone and see it with their own eyes. Lake Isabelle is just such a place to step outside of everyday life and into the wild unknown.

Lake Isabelle hidden from the outside world lies just to the south of Rocky Mountain National Park in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. And while many do seek an alpine experience here during the summer months, few will make the trek through the deep snow of the winter season which can linger well into June.

Winter Lake Isabelle Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

At just under 11,000′ in elevation, Lake Isabelle sits protected from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, surrounded by three spectacular peaks, Navajo (13,409′), Apache (13,441′) and Shoshoni (12,967′) and fed by the Isabelle Glacier (12,000′) via the St Vrain Creek.

While getting here is not like climbing Mt Everest, the altitude is something to respect if you’re not used to its effects. Patience is the key as you climb steadily along the trail past vast mountain views, clear running streams, lush forests and the ever present Indian Peaks which stand guard over the area.

Our latest outing was nothing less than amazing. The traditional summer trail is not passable in winter and early spring, as it is buried deep under a blanket of winter snow.

One must take precautions by understanding the lay of the land and be quite familiar with route finding and topographical maps. While the use of a GPS device can be helpful, if the batteries ever fail, you’d be on your own. Add to this technical aspect of finding your way there and back, and knowledge of unpredictable weather in the high country is a major plus to a great experience in the Colorado high country.

Lake Isabelle Winter Hike Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

Our route took us away from the summer trail and across Long Lake’s northern shore. Long Lake is itself a beautiful destination, and fed also by the St Vrain Creek as it cascades down the mountain out of Lake Isabelle’s eastern outlet.

Following Long Lake to the this drainage point out of Lake Isabelle was indeed our route. The final ascent up the drainage is demanding, as it is typically a beautiful waterfall in the summer, though in winter resembles more of a narrow ski run, steep and well covered in pristine snow. Once we made the ridge, the peaks around the lake began to appear and our excitement grew.

Getting here can be a challenge in the winter, but the reward is overwhelming. Being in the presence of such a place is breathtaking. Pictures can do no justice, neither can our words, it just simply is an exhilarating alpine experience that has to be seen and explored to understand.

From this vantage point, if your able to turn away from the lake, you can see the entire route from which you came and be able to put it all into perspective.

St Vrain Creek Winter lake Isabelle Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

From the Isabelle Glacier, Lake Isabelle, the St Vrain Creek, down through the valley and into Long Lake, this is indeed why we hike, why we seek the solace of the high country and why we love sharing our experiences that others might be inspired to step out of their comfort zone and see it with their own eyes.

Being in the wild untamed wilderness has a way of reminding us of how beautiful the natural world is.

To see more photos of the Indian Peaks Wilderness visit the MAD Hippies Flickr page. We hope to see you on the trail 😀

Peace,

MAD

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Let it Snow!!!

Ascent to Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness
Ascent to Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Our excitement has been mounting lately as the weather in Colorado is beginning its seasonal change from long warm days to short, cold and snowy events. Not to worry, we’re ready for the snow and can’t wait to dust off the snowshoes.

After a quick moving storm dumped several inches of snow in the high country this past week we headed up the first chance we got to check out the conditions and see nature in its raw form. Blue Lake is in the Indian Peaks Wilderness at just over 11,000′ and offers spectacular mountain views. Unfortunately those views were put on hold for clouds, fog and snow squalls moving in unannounced…all the better!

This was just the sort of hike we needed to get our snow legs back on for the fast approaching winter hiking season. Indeed,  an amazing day full of all types of weather and trail conditions. See our latest outing photos on the MAD Facebook page, enjoy.

Peace,

MAD 🙂

Let it Snow!!!

MAD Hippies Life Blue Lake Indian Peaks Wilderness ColoradoOur excitement has been mounting lately as the weather in Colorado is beginning its seasonal change from long warm days to short, cold and snowy events. Not to worry, we’re ready for the snow and can’t wait to dust off the snowshoes.

After a quick moving storm dumped several inches of snow in the high country this past week we headed up the first chance we got to check out the conditions and see nature in its raw form. Blue Lake is in the Indian Peaks Wilderness at just over 11,000′ and offers spectacular mountain views. Unfortunately those views were put on hold for clouds, fog and snow squalls moving in unannounced…all the better!

This was just the sort of hike we needed to get our snow legs back on for the fast approaching winter hiking season. Indeed,  an amazing day full of all types of weather and trail conditions.

See more photos of our experiences

Peace,

MAD 🙂

Breakfast With Bullwinkle

MADHippiesLife.com
Brainard Lake, CO

A recent trip to one of out favorite hiking destinations hinted to us that fall was definitely in the air and winter is not that far off. While it’s no real surprise, as we are in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Region, it just seems that it should be early October instead of September. Our advise, stop looking at the calendar and keep your eye on nature. The wildlife is actively foraging, the leaves on the trees are turning, the high peaks are dusted with new snow and the cool morning air just seems to have that “here comes winter” smell.

MADHippiesLife.com
St Vrain Creek

Many people might be thinking about putting away their hiking boots and camping gear now that the seasons are turning, while we just get even more encouraged to hike on. Each season holds its own unique beauty and experience, fall and winter indeed can change the same old hike into a whole new adventure.  We highly recommend year round outdoor expeditions to grasp how nature changes with the seasons and holds secrets that otherwise go unseen in the deep of winter. Now is a great time to educate and equip yourself for cold weather hiking.

Moose at Brainard Lake
Moose at Brainard Lake

We just couldn’t stop thinking [and noticing] on this early morning at Brainard Lake that the seasons are indeed changing. The signs are there and it won’t be long before we strap on the snowshoes, bundle up and hit the trail, albeit buried in deep snow. We hope to see you on the trail, hike on! And yes, the moose are still out and about at Brainard Lake, every morning and evening they’re on the southwest side of the lake enjoying the plentiful vegetation, stop by some time and have breakfast with Bullwinkle…you’ll be glad you did!

Go here to see more pictures of this outing and keep up with all our adventures!

Peace,

MAD

Moose, Wildflowers and Sunsets to Die For

Sunset Brainard Lake, CO
Sunset Brainard Lake, CO

Our recent “need to get away” adventure took us to Brainard Lake a few hours west of Denver at an altitude of 10,500′ where we would leave the heat of summer behind, sleep under cool evening stars and experience moose, wildflowers and sunsets to die for.

StVrain
Wildflowers along St Vrain Creek

The colors of spring and summer in full swing along the St Vrain Creek. Any trip to this area will be first experienced through the color of the wildflowers that blanket the landscape. From lazy lakes in the valley to energetic streams along the trail to the high mountain passes and peaks still covered in snow, the color is an explosion of the full spectrum raining down on the Brainard Lake and Indian Peaks area. Indeed, Bob Ross [and his happy little trees] would have loved this place 🙂

Bull Moose at Brainard Lake
Bull Moose at Brainard Lake

Just when we thought our adventure couldn’t get any better, we enjoyed a surprise encounter of five incredibly majestic bull moose along the bank of Brainard Lake enjoying the willows as much as we were enjoying not only them, but, as the title of this blog says, Moose, Wildflowers and Sunsets to Die For!

See more pictures of Brainard Lake

Peace,

MAD

Two Places at the Same Time

Ever feel like you need to be in two places at the same time? Is it even remotely possible? This is not to say that we’re supposing time travel is possible in a Star Trek – beam me up Scottie type of thing [granted that would be nice at times]. Perhaps it’s just a metaphor we use when we find ourselves in one of life’s moments requiring to much of us. But why is it always a negative approach? Here’s a spin on the statements like this one that we often make when enduring such challenges. Oftentimes it seems we focus too much on the ugly side of the issue, focusing as it were on the unfavorable consequences and outcomes versus the possibilities of positive impact, even if difficulties still must be overcome in the process. Consider the statement “no pain, no gain.”

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[Trail to Mt Audubon, Indian Peaks Wilderness]

Hiking in the high country is a great way to provoke the mind and soul on such matters! Well, that and getting to see amazing views and making friends with the occasional marmot or chipmunk. But seriously, making a 2,500′ – 3,000′ ascent and summiting a mountain can try an individual not only physically, but mentally as well. It’s one thing to tackle 10,000′ but beyond that, there is a place that any hiker will tell you along the ascent above tree line the body begins to revolt and let you know it’s not happy with the current rigors its being put through, each person is different [thank G-d] and has their own breaking point. Ours just happens to be someplace between 12,000 and 12,500, attributable to raising teenagers one might say.

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[Alpine shelf just below Mt Audubon]

Our goals are often in front of us, seemingly always and relentlessly in front of us, as if running in the same race but keeping out in front egging us on to keep going with somewhat of a devilish grin you might wonder. But we keep on keeping on, what else are you going to do, quitting leaves you nowhere, continuing at least gives us hope. then it hits you, you’re being pulled in all directions, everyone and everything wants a piece of you and two hands, a few hours and what little sanity you have left aren’t cutting it [meltdown!]. The goal remains…

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[Alpine shelf just below Mt Audubon]

So here you sit, beaten to the core, spouting whatever “French” that comes to mind and regressing back to your childhood days of temper tantrums, or some silent version of it anyway. Standing in two places at one time [yes, it is possible] wondering which way is easier to go. Climbing a mountain is much like this if you’re not mentally prepared. You’ll definitely get to a point of exhaustion, a mental brick wall if you will. Close to the goal, yet the mind playing tricks on your determination. Here’s the twist. You stand in two places [mentally], albeit the same place [physically]. Who wins in your inner battle of whits? That’s up to you! Negativity creeps in and sells you a bill of goods like the devil on your shoulder. Does anyone pay attention to the angel on their other should though? This side of the situation speaks positives, you can go on and will be thankful you did. Looking back, looking forward, standing [or sitting] you know a move is coming.

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[Final few feet before the summit of Mt Audubon]

Thank G-d you got over the pity party, we normally do, eventually, at some point, before we’re dead…Alas, the goal is in sight. Hard work, our goals, might walk ahead of us egging us on, but in the end the payoff is so much better than if it all would have been simple and quick. Those methods leave us lazy and incompetent, whereas hard work and time build character, muscles [physically and mentally] and ready for more. It’s fine to be in two places at the same time. We get to take mental inventory, gather our thoughts and make better decisions. Sure we act goofy, downright insane at times, but that’s being human, that’s being normal, we all do it…generally with the curtains drawn and the TV turned up loud. In the end, it’s all good.

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[View from the summit of Mt Audubon 13,223′]

Ah, the summit, you made it. It was a long haul, there were some tense moments, but your here! Pat yourself on the back, take a long and well deserved break, and enjoy the incredible view. Look north, south, east and west…it’s so vast, it’s so beautiful. Then it hits you, there are many mountains, hills and an ever expanding horizon in all directions. This is indeed your life. You’ve been there and done that. Many of what you see you have been through, some you have yet to conquer. Does it look daunting, promising or just plain old mesmerizing? Stepping back and seeing life for what it is, instead of what it not [the man made simulations we stress over] on top of the world is a great place to start, you can do this, will do this and will again find yourself on another summit taking a break, wiping the sweat from your brow and enjoying another battle won. Just remember though, there are those days we don’t make it to the top, we need to stop, step back and return another day to try again. Hike on, peacefully 🙂

Go here to view more photos of our hike and ascent to Mt Audubon

Our Favorite Hikes

In honor of our 30 year anniversary we’d like to show you some of our favorite places to hike to, enjoy! If you want information on any of these pictures drop us a line and we can get you on the trail 🙂 Click on each photo to enlarge…

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[Shelf above Lake Isabelle, Indian Peaks Wilderness]

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[Long Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness]

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[Mt. Audubon 13,223 ft]

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[Devil’s Thumb, Indian Peaks Wilderness]

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[Royal Arch, Chautauqua Park, Boulder]

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[Surprise! Rocky Mountain National Park]

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[Hello! Rocky Mountain National Park]

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[Guanella Pass]

Well, that’s the short of it. There are so many incredible places to experience here in Colorado posting a few pictures could never do the beauty justice. Our advice, hit the trail! We’re always looking for places to go, so come on along with us here or in person, there’s always room for one more. Hike on, peacefully 🙂

Click here to view more photos and hikes!