Hike to Nowhere

Hike to Nowhere, Rocky Mountain National ParkSometimes the best outdoor adventures have no goals, no expeditions to high mountain peaks and pristine alpine lakes. Sometimes the best adventures are found deep in the forest, off trail with only the sound of silence to reward you. Sometimes the best adventures are nothing more than a hike to nowhere.

We took a hike just such as this. With no goal in mind and no destination planned, the rule of the day was, just hike until it feels right. The trail had no real defining features. A well blended forest of alpine fir, lodgepole pine and aspen opening here and there with an occasional glimpse of snow-capped mountain peaks. A gentle rolling creek trickling alongside on our left fed by a high alpine lake in the far distance. Steep slopes rising to the right and dropping to the left, leaving just enough room for the trail and our unknown destination of a hike to nowhere.

We meandered our way up the canyon, stopping here and there, taking a non-aggressive pace and enjoying the quiet of nature.

At some point the trail turned away from the creek and headed uphill. We, on the other hand, did not. Following the creek, off the trail, we made our own way. Our trail to nowhere brought us to a small outcropping overlooking the creek, surrounded by dense woods and the perfect place to call it a day.

Hike to Nowhere, Trail FoodThere we were, all alone, despite the wildlife who possibly hadn’t seen humans for quite some time, if ever. We coexisted well with them and enjoyed each other’s company. For us, time didn’t exist.

While preparing lunch we looked up at a lone aspen tree that sat on the edge of the outcropping and were dumbstruck at our finding. Perfectly carved in its aging trunk, a peace emblem. Indeed, this was the spot we had been looking for. Perfect in so many ways, and yet, perhaps, unimpressive to anyone else.

Sometimes the best outdoor adventures have no goals, no expeditions to high mountain peaks and pristine alpine lakes. Sometimes the best adventures are found deep in the forest, off-trail, with only the sound of silence to reward you. Sometimes the best adventures are nothing more than a hike to nowhere.

Hike to Nowhere, Peace SignBirds singing, a gentle breeze winding its way through the trees and the creek running gently below us, we sat front row to a natural symphony while a flood of memories of our lives together danced through our heads.

Our hike to nowhere had indeed taken us to a very special place.

Peace,

MAD

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Two Places at the Same Time

Saint Vrain Mountain, Two Places at the Same Time

Sain Vrain Mountain Summit, Two Places at the Same TimeThe question begs to be asked, can you be in two places at the same time and still benefit from both? Absolutely! However, you need to know where such a place exists and then be able to get there.

Anyone who has a love for the outdoors in Colorado will tell you, the Indian Peaks Wilderness and Rocky Mountain National Park are two of the most iconic places to set out on an adventure in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. But, can you be in two places at the same time?

Both sharing a border, much less the jaw-dropping landscape they have each come to be known by, it is no wonder that at one time Enos Mills proposed both wilderness areas were on the table to be known as Rocky Mountain National Park. Suffice it to say, local mining interests put a hold on those plans and eventually the Indian Peaks, thankfully, were protected under their own wilderness boundaries.

Call them what you will, Rocky Mountain National Park, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Roosevelt, Arapaho or Routt National Forests. The fact remains for anyone who has ever explored within their boundaries, this is a land of immense imagination filled with wildlife, clear running streams, dense forests and high alpine peaks where snow can linger all year long.

The question begs to be asked, can you be in two places at the same time and still benefit from both? Absolutely! However, you need to know where such a place exists and then be able to get there.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Two Places at the Same TimeNestled in a high meadow, perhaps overlooked for the popularity of Estes Park and neighboring Rocky Mountain National Park, sits the little known mountain “village” of Allenspark in the shadow of a well kept secret.

While many will make the trek to RMNP and the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, few will find their way to the small trailhead for Mount Saint Vrain nestled deep in the woods behind the small town of Allenspark, Colorado. There you will find a small parking area with no real distinguishing attributes for the dense forests. One must begin a rather unforgiving and relentless climb from here, climbing up and above the timberline on a quiet, though demanding, hike.

Once above it all, the answer to the question, can you be in two places at one time, becomes quite obvious. Absolutely. But, be prepared to pick your jaw up from off the ground. While one can see amazing beauty in both Rocky Mountain National Park and the Indian Peaks Wilderness, the old saying, “can you see the forest for the trees” applies. It’s one thing to be among these iconic wilderness areas, while it is a whole different experience to see them both in their grand expanse, first hand and at the same time.

The trail to Mount Saint Vrain might be strenuous, but the reward far outweighs the effort as you climb above the dense forests and find yourself standing in an alpine saddle surrounded by, perhaps, one of the most incredible views one could dream of. But don’t stop there, exploring further in this area will only spark the imagination further, deepening one’s appreciation for the great outdoors, the Colorado Rocky Mountains and an alpine environment seldom experienced.

Being in two places at the same time is not always something we want to do, but in cases such as this, you will not want to leave.

Peace,

MAD

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In the High Alpine Wilderness, Man is a Visitor

Chasm Lake

Every now and again there comes a day when you have to take advantage of epic weather conditions. In the high alpine wilderness, man is a visitor.

Snowshoeing in the high country of Colorado comes with its share of dangers and discomforts, all of which we prepare for and deal with as a trade off for being able to enjoy one of our passions, hiking.

Years ago, we both made a promise to each other that no mater the conditions, we would make an effort to keep exploring all year, in all conditions. However, there are days, few and far in between, where all things come together for an epic day in the outdoors. This day just happen to be one.

Chasm Lake Alpine Wilderness

Chasm Lake [11,800′] sits in a small granite walled cirque in Rocky Mountain National Park at the base of Longs Peak [14,259′], Mt Meeker [13,911′] and Mt Lady Washington [13,281′] high above the hustle and bustle of daily life. An unforgiving environment, even for the brave at heart, ascending to such a place in the dead of winter is breathtaking, yet dangerous.

And then it happens. The weather clears for a small window of opportunity, the clouds part and the wind clams. We stare at each other knowing, this is it. Gathering our winter gear together with excitement we soon find ourselves on the road well before the morning light.

The trek up to Chasm Lake is a relentless uphill battle through thick forests to the sub-alpine and finally above the treeline where weather and nature rule the ecosystem. This place was not meant for human survival, rather a place to respect, visit and retreat in humble awe of the dangerous beauty.

Chasm lake Rocky Mountain National Park Alpine Wilderness

Snowshoes on our feet, we set out on an amazing snowshoe outing to experience the wild and raw beauty. Every now and again there comes a day when you have to take advantage of epic weather conditions. In the high alpine wilderness, man is a visitor.

Peace,

MAD

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Overcoming Personal Challenges

The Loch Rocky Mountain National Park

 The Loch Rocky Mountain National ParkHave you ever been stuck between a rock and a hard place? Our latest adventure had us in just such a place of overcoming personal challenges.

Which way should we go? I don’t know. One is obvious and unfamiliar, the other is obscured but the only way we’ve ever gone. Both are daunting, difficult and quite intimidating.

There we were, only a half mile away from fulfilling a dream of backpacking in a winter setting to The Loch, an amazing gem hidden deep within Rocky Mountain National Park. There was no way we were going to stop now! Only accessible by hiking in, or in our case, snowshoeing. The Loch is a picturesque mountain setting. Complete with a beautiful lake, clear running streams and surrounded on three sides by towering mountains dressed with glaciers and pristine white snow.

It was the first weekend of spring in Colorado and unseasonably warm in the high country, 20s overnight, 50s during the day. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pack in and surround ourselves with the raw and untamed wild of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Backcountry camping can be a bit overwhelming at first, as you are far from services, your vehicle and people. Cut off, you’re on your own.

Camping at The Loch Rocky Mountain National Park

Not only was it the first weekend of spring, indeed there was something else brewing in the air. It was to be the vernal equinox accompanied by a supermoon and solar eclipse. Say what you will, but the energy in the air just seemed to have an intriguing sensation to it. The area we were in, part of Glacier Gorge, is known for extreme winds, and yet the air was still, calm…deafening. We sat in the pitch black of our campsite awe struck at the innumerable stars, twinkling and shooting across the night sky. The silence was intoxicating.

And yet, we stood in between two avenues. We had come so far and were getting excited that our destination was close at hand. Following a familiar route we came to an abrupt stop on the trail. The summer route we knew well was buried deep in snow, obscured and hidden under the winter snowfall. We had never attempted this in the winter and were not familiar with the winter trail that followed The Loch’s outflow stream that usually is running fiercely through the gorge from snow melt in the summer months.

Snowshoeing The Loch Rocky Mountain National Park

Although we saw evidence of other hikers heading that way, we had never taken it and did not exactly know where it led. It could be to The Loch, or it could be to another valley away from our destination putting us even further away. The winter route dubbed Icy Brook is more of a steep icy / snow climb that didn’t sound too inviting to two weary backpackers who were carrying heavy packs and were all too ready to be at their destination. We opted for the summer route instead.

With no visible trace of the trail we relied on our GPS device to lead the way. Granted we were “supposedly” on the trail, we were also knee to hip deep in snow drudging up the side of a mountain. Indeed, a workout! Once we made our way up the steep snowy slope we came to an area we knew well. Just below The Loch now, we resumed our hike in by our own intuition of the lay of the land. Incredible views all around, we left our uncertainty behind us and made the final ascent to The Loch.

Snowshoeing to The Loch Rocky Mountain National Park

We spent some time reacquainting ourselves with our old friend [The Loch], whom we’d only visited in the comfort of summer. A now frozen over lake and deep snow in all directions, finding a suitable campsite might seem difficult. We’d talked about it before even beginning our trek, we wanted a room with a view! After a short while it’s as if the clouds had parted, the birds began to sing and a ray of beautiful golden sunlight came down from the heavens and shown down on an outcropping above the lake that was free of snow and provided 360 degree views of The Loch and all its beauty. We were there.

Snowshoeing Rocky Mountain National Park, Icy Brook

When it was time to leave we begrudgingly packed up our tent, sleeping bags and belongings, stuffing them back in our packs to make our way back to the trailhead and home. But we weren’t done yet. We had spent some time exploring around The Loch during our stay and discovered that the Icy Brook route was indeed the winter trail that would take us back to where we would meet up with what we already were familiar with. It was like looking over a cliff. We met our fears, took it slow and prepared ourselves for the steep descent. Once at the safety of the bottom we just looked at each other and smiled, let’s do it again…but another day! Exhausted, though happy to have made the trek, we were thrilled to have gotten through some learning curves and uncertainty. It was another one for the books that filled us with new found joy of experiencing the wild untamed backcountry of the Rocky Mountains.

To enjoy more photos of this outing and others like it, visit our MAD Hippies Life Rocky Mountain National Park Flickr Album

Peace,

MAD 😀

Snowshoeing in Paradise

 MAD Hippies Life Snowshoeing Rocky Mountain National ParkOur recent trip to Rocky Mountain National Park was nothing short of incredible.

It doesn’t matter how many times we head off on a trail in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, we’re still going to be amazed at the landscape. Winter vs Summer, much less Spring or Fall, there is excitement and energy that is unique within the current season that cannot be replicated in another. We’ve found that the same trail can hold a plethora of observations that are unique to that day alone. The trails are always changing as nature itself is in constant transition.

MAD Hippies Life Snowshoeing Rocky Mountain National Park

Granted snowshoeing is done in a more, how should we say, “brisk” setting, with the necessary precautions and proper gear the outing can not only be successful, but very enjoyable. Lots of people think winter is not the time they want to head off into the mountains to go for a hike, but we’ll tell you different. Indeed, because of this there are less people on the trail making for a more intimate experience. Whereas summer can bring a crowd because of the preferred weather conditions.

MAD Hippies Life Snowshoeing Rocky Mountain National Park

In between storms is our favorite time to head out. There just seems to be a calm about nature during these times, perhaps as a way of preparing and recovering at the same time. Who knows. It just has an energy about it where the air is still, the silence is magical and nature watches you and puts on a show inviting you to explore further eyes wide open. With your mind ablaze with curiosity of the next bend in the trail, each new revelation just leaves you stunned at your surroundings. Times like these calm the soul and rejuvenate your sense of being alive.

Peace 🙂

MAD

See more pictures like this on our MAD Flickr page!

Failure or Fulfillment?

 MAD Hippies Life Rocky Mountain National Park ColoradoIf it’s not obvious to you by now, we love the outdoors! We love full immersion of our body, mind and spirit into the raw and unfiltered wild that surrounds both man and machine.

Our goal is to one day leave the hustle and bustle of modern society and transition into wilderness living. Unfortunately that can’t happen soon enough. Alas, until that time comes we continue to trek often, as much as possible, into the environment of our vision of life together in the untouched and unviolated areas of our nation’s backcountry.

Until that day comes we plan, we dream and we take each failure not as a loss but as a fulfillment of experiences that will provide the essence of a life without  the conveniences that are at the fingertips of everyday life in the big city. Instead of quick solutions that are prepackaged we will become innovative, creative and proud of our accomplishments to overcome what many now see as primitive survival.

Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park
Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park

A recent hike in Rocky Mountain National Park gave us time to think a little more and consider some of these life changes. The trail, environment, weather and energy output to thrust oneself into an alpine setting in winter, much less any season, is no easy task. Planning, education and preparedness are essential to a safe and enjoyable outing. But that challenge is our gain, forget the positive results we get from each and every trek we head out on, those are just bonuses carrying out in the background. Being in such a place just seems to invigorate us, cleansing our souls, calming our minds and leaving us in such a physically pleasing state that we are able to just sit back and know well the feeling of fulfillment.

Time spent together learning, growing and making memories to share and think back on in years to come.

Taking Shelter From High Winds in Glacier Gorge
Taking Shelter From High Winds in Glacier Gorge

What an amazing day in the high country of Colorado. We knew it would be windy, we knew there was a storm brewing… Prepared as we could be we headed off for a few high lakes to get in a good hike before the weather came crashing down with yet another good ole fashioned Colorado snowstorm. Packed powder underfoot, drifts to the side, we made our way up the trail.

The wind howled over head giving clues to what lay ahead. The views nothing short of high quality postcards around each corner as we managed our way forward going ever higher and deeper into the wilderness.

What came next was just amazing… semi-clear skies and hurricane force winds stopped us dead in our tracks! Knowing full well where we were on the trail and where we needed to pass though to get to our destination it was a no-brainer that we needed to abort this hike and turn back. Bummed? Perhaps a little. But as we like to say, “live today to hike another time.”

We sat behind a large rock out of the incredible winds and realized how, once again, the experience was amazing. Nature was at its finest [raw and real] and we thoroughly enjoyed what we had done, seen and witnessed. There was no failure here, just more fulfillment of life, love and the desire to be in an environment we find so much peace in. Indeed these are the feelings and life lessons we want to go forward with as we continue our life together.

Watch a video of this experience [Don’t forget to turn up the volume on your device to hear the wind in all its fury!].

Peace,

MAD 🙂

Failure or Fulfillment?

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

If it’s not obvious to you by now, we love the outdoors! We love full immersion of our body, mind and spirit into the raw and unfiltered wild that surrounds both man and machine.

Our goal is to one day leave the hustle and bustle of modern society and transition into wilderness living. Unfortunately that can’t happen soon enough. Alas, until that time comes we continue to trek often, as much as possible, into the environment of our vision of life together in the untouched and unviolated areas of our nation’s backcountry.

Until that day comes we plan, we dream and we take each failure not as a loss but as a fulfillment of experiences that will provide the essence of a life without  the conveniences that are at the fingertips of everyday life in the big city. Instead of quick solutions that are prepackaged we will become innovative, creative and proud of our accomplishments to overcome what many now see as primitive survival.

Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park
Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park

A recent hike in Rocky Mountain National Park gave us time to think a little more and consider some of these life changes. The trail, environment, weather and energy output to thrust oneself into an alpine setting in winter, much less any season, is no easy task. Planning, education and preparedness are essential to a safe and enjoyable outing. But that challenge is our gain, forget the positive results we get from each and every trek we head out on, those are just bonuses carrying out in the background. Being in such a place just seems to invigorate us, cleansing our souls, calming our minds and leaving us in such a physically pleasing state that we are able to just sit back and know well the feeling of fulfillment.

Time spent together learning, growing and making memories to share and think back on in years to come.

Taking Shelter From High Winds in Glacier Gorge
Taking Shelter From High Winds in Glacier Gorge

What an amazing day in the high country of Colorado. We knew it would be windy, we knew there was a storm brewing… Prepared as we could be we headed off for a few high lakes to get in a good hike before the weather came crashing down with yet another good ole fashioned Colorado snowstorm. Packed powder underfoot, drifts to the side, we made our way up the trail.

The wind howled over head giving clues to what lay ahead. The views nothing short of high quality postcards around each corner as we managed our way forward going ever higher and deeper into the wilderness.

What came next was just amazing… semi-clear skies and hurricane force winds stopped us dead in our tracks! Knowing full well where we were on the trail and where we needed to pass though to get to our destination it was a no-brainer that we needed to abort this hike and turn back. Bummed? Perhaps a little. But as we like to say, “live today to hike another time.”

We sat behind a large rock out of the incredible winds and realized how, once again, the experience was amazing. Nature was at its finest [raw and real] and we thoroughly enjoyed what we had done, seen and witnessed. There was no failure here, just more fulfillment of life, love and the desire to be in an environment we find so much peace in. Indeed these are the feelings and life lessons we want to go forward with as we continue our life together.

Watch a video of our experience with the winds on the MAD Facebook page. [Don’t forget to turn up the volume on your device to hear the wind in all its fury!]

Peace,

MAD 🙂

Resisting the Wind, Absorbing the Experience

MAD Hippies Life Flattop Mountain Rocky Mountain National Park Our latest outing took us back to Rocky Mountain National Park on a summiting adventure atop Flattop Mountain [12,324′]. Well equipped, we met nature head on as fierce winds were blowing off the peaks as if to say “try if you will human, but this place is for the determined only.” Determined we were…slowly, methodically and carefully we put one foot in front of the other and pressed on. Climbing ever higher, the energy release and altitude gain quickly reminded us where we were. But the reward today was not the destination, it was the trail, the many views…the energy of a raw and unrelenting nature that had welcomed us into its high alpine playground. Indeed, we were resisting the wind while absorbing the experience. We love hiking the Rocky Mountains, in any season, as they all hold unique opportunities to experience the beauty of Colorado.

More photos

Peace,

MAD 🙂

Resisting the Wind, Absorbing the Experience

Flattop Mountain [12,324'] in Rocky Mountain National Park
Flattop Mountain [12,324′] in Rocky Mountain National Park
Our latest outing took us back to Rocky Mountain National Park on a summiting adventure atop Flattop Mountain [12,324′]. Well equipped, we met nature head on as fierce winds were blowing off the peaks as if to say “try if you will human, but this place is for the determined only.” Determined we were…slowly, methodically and carefully we put one foot in front of the other and pressed on. Climbing ever higher, the energy release and altitude gain quickly reminded us where we were. But the reward today was not the destination, it was the trail, the many views…the energy of a raw and unrelenting nature that had welcomed us into its high alpine playground. Indeed, we were resisting the wind while absorbing the experience. We love hiking the Rocky Mountains, in any season, as they all hold unique opportunities to experience the beauty of Colorado.

See more photos from this latest outing on the MAD Hippies Facebook page.

Peace,

MAD 🙂

Silence Is Golden

 MAD Hippies Life Chasm Lake Longs Peak Rocky Mountain National ParkHow many ways can you say “WOW” when that moment of anticipation arrives? And yet, there we stood, after several hours of uphill hiking through diverse mountain zones only to find ourselves standing in silence as our goal stood before us. Sometimes there just aren’t words to describe how you feel…silence takes over and facial expressions tell the story of your intense moment.

There we were, our weekly encounter with nature intertwined with our raw unfiltered selves and all we could do was stare silently at the immense landscape before us. Eyes wide, mouths open, bodies numb as nature’s awesome glory held us in its grasp for just a moment that we would know just where and what we are in the vastness of the cosmos and how there is much much more to life than day in day out man made existence.

Our hike on this day was an 8.5 mile alpine journey to Chasm Lake [11,800′] which sits at the base of Mt Meeker [13,911′], Longs Peak [14,259′] and Mt Lady Washington [13,281′] in the high country of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

Watch a video or see more photos

Peace,

MAD 🙂