Mount Sniktau

With each passing day, I’ve found myself becoming more addicted to both hiking and reaching the summit of mountain peaks. Reaching the summit of Mount Sniktau definitely made me realize this.

Specifically, I woke up late Sunday morning and worked my twelve hour shift until 3am. Instead of going to bed, I stayed up and drove to Loveland Pass on Monday morning and have no regrets. Here’s so more information about my hike:

  • Date Hiked: July 1st, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 3.5 Miles
  • Total Elevation Change: 1,250 Feet
  • Summit Elevation: 13,240 Feet

Getting There

Loveland Pass is easily accessible from Interstate 70. Plenty of parking can be found at both the top and just below the summit of the pass. It also happens to be located on the Continental Divide as well and the views are just absolutely remarkable.

The Journey

Even from the parking area, the views were just off the chart. Being so high up already at nearly 12,000 feet, the trail itself was a steep path straight up the side of the mountain with the views becoming more incredible with each step.

The view from the Loveland Pass parking area.
The beginning of the trail on a beautiful Monday morning.
The view near the end of the steep section with Loveland Pass down below.

It does level out for a brief period of time before it continues to climb some more. I must admit that I was pretty surprised to still see that much snow up there too. Doing this hike was the perfect way to start the month though!

Continuing on up the trail.
Nothing but snow covered peaks with the Eisenhower Tunnel down below.
Just so breathtaking!

And about 1.75 miles later, I found myself at the summit! Although it’s definitely a shorter hike, I still got a good workout from it and was nothing less than impressed.

The Summit

Even though it was windy and still a little cold, I didn’t let that deter me from sitting at the summit for half an hour. While I was sitting up there, a nice little pika was kind enough to make an appearance for me too!

From the summit of Mount Sniktau looking east with Interstate 70 way down there.
Another lovely view!
Looking down in the immediate valley.
A pika blessing me with its presence.
So dreamy.

I really didn’t want to leave because it just felt so peaceful. But I was pretty tired too and figured it was time to go home and get some sleep. So that’s exactly what I did. But the return trip proved to be more eventful than I figured it would be.

The Return Trip

As I was heading back, a group of Mountain Goats came out of nowhere and ended up crossing the trail in front of me. Although they were gone in a flash, I was able to get a couple pictures of them enjoying the day and what not.

Mountain Goat mania.
Mountain Goats with a view.
One last photo of the surrounding mountains.

All in all, I’m glad I stayed up a full 24 hours to do this hike. It was so worth it. I’d have to say that this is an excellent beginner 13er with incredible views. I definitely recommend it and would do it again anytime.

Family Time #1

For the first time in 3 years, I had the chance to spend time with my mom. Having not seen my mom since 2016, I wanted to make sure that this visit was both awesome and chock full of memorable activities! With that in mind, I was surely going to be a long memorial day weekend to remember for years to come.

Day #1

On Friday, May 24th, I went to pick her up from the Denver International Airport after I got done with work. Shortly thereafter, we went to Lucha Cantina to enjoy some margaritas and tacos while catching up. Once we got done with our meal, we then walked around the reservoir in Clement Park in Littleton, Colorado.

Walking around this reservoir after having a great meal and a margarita is pretty much a right of passage. I’ve literally done this after every meal at this restaurant too. After having a long travel day involving flying out to Colorado from Pennsylvania, it was time to rest and get ready for the long weekend festivities.

Day #2

On Saturday, May 25th, we woke up somewhat early as we had tickets to ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. It was a perfect day for it as the mountains had actually had a late spring snowstorm just four or five days earlier. It was an awesome scenic train ride that connects Georgetown and Silver Plume, Colorado.

Looking at the large trestle that goes over Clear Creek.
Good view of the engine as we go around a curve.
The engine as it loops back around.

As a part of our scenic railroad ride, we also got tickets for the extended Lebanon Mine tour. Definitely an awesome experience!

Shortly before touring the Lebanon Mine.

After touring the Lebanon Mine for about an hour, we got back on the train and returned to Georgetown. From there, we then proceeded further west through the Eisenhower tunnel on Interstate 70 to reach Silverthorne. After having lunch at the Dillon Dam Brewery, it was time to get some exercise and walk on the trails that are close to the Dillon Reservoir.

Pretty low water levels at the Dillon Reservoir.
Zoom in of the snow capped mountains.

After taking in the views for awhile, I decided to see just how much snow they had in the mountains. With that being said, I then drove up to Berthoud Pass outside of Winter Park, Colorado. And I was nothing short of amazed at how much snow was still on the ground.

From the Berthoud Pass Overlook.
Standing by the Berthoud Pass sign. Has to be at least 4 feet of snow still standing.

Although it was a busy day, it was definitely a lot of fun!

Day #3

On Sunday, May 26th, we all woke up early to depart for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. It was a pretty easy drive and before too long we reached our destination before the big weekend crowds arrived.

Kissing Danielle by the entrance sign.
At the entrance sign to the Great Sand Dunes.
The Sand Dunes really are incredible.
The Sand Dunes with the nearby higher peaks.

After a quick trip to the visitor center, we then found a parking spot and made our way out to the sand dunes. I also made sure to bring out my lawn chair because I wanted to make sure that we could all enjoy the splendid view.

To reach the sand dunes, you must first cross Medano creek at the base of the dunes which was very cold due to the snowmelt. Once we made it across, we hiked a decent way up the first major dune before calling it a day. At this point, we all took turns sitting in the lawn chair and relaxing.

Always bring your lawn chair to get the best results!

I figured we probably hike 2 miles round trip. It was pretty tough because the wind was absolutely howling and constantly changing direction. On the way back, we stopped at the Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub in Salida, Colorado for some unforgettable pizza and beer. Can’t wait to go back!

Day #4

On Monday, May 27th, we woke up and stopped over in Golden, Colorado for a quick lunch at the Windy Saddle Cafe. Afterwards, we headed up to Boulder, Colorado because Danielle was volunteering at the Boulder Creek Festival as she is an active volunteer for the W.O.L.F Sanctuary.

It was relaxing to sit by Boulder Creek and watch the water quickly rush by and just take in the sights and sounds of the whole event. Later on, we also walked around the Pearl Street Mall before we headed back to Lakewood.

It was a pretty laid back day as I had to wake up super early to take my mom to the airport and then go straight to work at 3am on Tuesday morning.

Day #5

On Tuesday, May 28th, my mom and I woke up ridiculously early so I could get her to the airport and subsequently make it to work on time at 3am.

With that being said, we left around 1:45am with a crazy thunderstorm going on. By the time we got about maybe 15 miles from the airport, hail was starting to accumulate on the road and before long their was easily 2 inches of hail on the road with constant nearby lightning illuminating the landscape around us.

When all was said and done, we made it safe and sound to the airport and I made it to work with plenty of time to spare.

Overall, it was definitely a memorable long weekend that I will probably never forget!!!

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Located only about 30 miles outside of Denver, Golden Gate Canyon state park consists of over 12,000 acres of varying terrain to go along with 35 miles of hiking trails. With a wide variety of activities to choose from, this is an awesome park to explore no matter what time of year that you choose to visit!

Here are some quick details about my hike there:

Date of Hike: April 14th, 2019      

Miles Hiked: 11.65

Trails Hiked: Horseshoe, Mule Deer and Coyote Trails

Trail Conditions: Snow covered in the morning and quite slushy in the afternoon

After paying the $8 dollar entrance fee, I proceeded to park at the Horseshoe Trailhead. I got there around 7 AM and before long I found myself hiking in complete solitude up the Horseshoe trail in mostly snow and ice.

Trail conditions for most of the journey.

After a short while, I reached Frazer Meadow and took in the view. At this point, I took the Mule Deer trail and started to make my way to the Panorama Point overlook.

An opening through the trees leading to the meadow.
Looking south while standing in the meadow.

During this portion of my hike, the snow on the trail was quite deep. This probably had to do with the fact that most of the trail was shaded, except for several random spots that were few and far in between.

Going up the Mule Deer Trail.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally made it to the overlook. The view of the mountains along the Continental Divide was absolutely remarkable!

View from Panorama Point!
Another view from Panorama Point.

After spending a considerable amount of time at the overlook, I decided that it was time to continue my hike. So I began my descent from the overlook while remaining on the Mule Deer trail and soon found myself going in and out of Aspen trees again. This part of my hike would end up being the easiest part of the whole day.

The trail with Aspen trees all around.

Once I reached the Bootleg Bottom parking area, I decided to see just how difficult the Coyote trail actually is. On the park map, the trail is listed as being in the most difficult category. And it definitely lived up to that! At first, it was rather mellow with just some normal switchbacks.

The lower part of the Coyote Trail.

Before long, I found myself face to face at an awesome part of the trail that requires you to ascend a rather rocky slope as their is no defined trail. Instead, their are markers that you follow that simply say Trail on them. That part of my hike was by far my favorite.

Coyote Trail at Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
The beginning of the steep portion of the Coyote Trail.
The terrain I encountered.
At the top looking back towards the bottom.

After reaching the top, I then went back onto the Horseshoe trail in order to return to the trailhead that I parked at earlier. As it was afternoon now, more people were beginning to hike. Having been at the park since just after the sun came up, I was simply ready to call it a day.

Until next time!

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

To start off 2019, I made an excellent decision to hike to the top of Cheyenne Mountain via the Dixon Trail located within Cheyenne Mountain State Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It was quite a physically demanding 17 plus mile hike that lived up to all the warnings that are posted about it.

For being the very beginning of January, the weather was quite warm and for about 90 percent of this hike I didn’t even need to wear a winter coat as it was at least 60 degrees. With that in mind, it pretty much took me over seven hours to complete this hike but I was up to the challenge and was determined to complete it before sunset and to capture some remarkable photos throughout the day.

This Buck crossed the trail within ten feet in front of me!

At the beginning of the trail, you’re encouraged to sign in on a clipboard to let the park staff know what trail or trails that you plan on hiking in the event of an emergency. After briefly filling in that information, I then proceeded onto the Sundance Trail to begin my journey. After only maybe ten or fifteen minutes into the hike, I encountered a huge white tail deer that I definitely did not expect to see up close that morning. It was so close to me I could have reached out and touched. Additionally, I was even close enough to count all ten of the points it had on its antlers. Shortly after that, I came upon two more deer laying down among some trees.

It was definitely a perfect day for an adventure!

After stumbling upon several more deer, I turned onto the Talon Trail. This particular part had a decent amount of ice and snow packed on it. However, most of the snow was in the areas that were shaded and had a significant amount of tree coverage. A little bit later, I took a short side trail to find an overlook area that allows you to get a good glimpse of Cheyenne Mountain more up close.

Cheyenne Mountain from a scenic overlook area.

Upon completing portions of the Talon and North Talon Trails, I came to the junction of the Dixon Trail on a small hill. Although it definitely did not seem like it, I had already hiked 3.3 miles at this point. A big warning sign is posted at the very beginning of this trail warning you about what to expect and to be prepared for the conditions of the trail. Take this stuff seriously because you do not want to be without an adequate supply of water and food because this hike is extremely demanding. Always watch the sky for possible changes in the weather too.

Something that I really liked about the Dixon Trail was that it was well marked and easy to follow. The trail is marked in half mile increments in both directions to let you know how much further that you have to go. The first several miles are primarily switchbacks that were snow covered with several areas that were somewhat rocky. At this point, really notice that you are starting to go up in elevation. Once you reach the 2.5 mile mark of the trail, you will come to a huge turnaround area designed for bikes and people riding horses to turnaround. You will notice yet another warning sign that alerts you to the steepness of the remaining two miles of the Dixon Trail before you finish your ascent and continue onto the Mountain Loop Trail.

Some of the scenery heading up the Dixon Trail.
The warning sign at the 2.5 mile mark.

Continuing on, the trail does get much steeper as previously mentioned by the warning sign. However, this did not seem to phase me at all because the scenery just kept getting more amazing with every step. With it being a clear morning, I could see the large snow capped peaks to the southwest that looked absolutely breathtaking. I was so amazed by the scenery that I simply had to stop and have lunch for about twenty minutes and just take it all in. It’s really difficult to capture just how beautiful places are because sometimes pictures just simply are not enough. You have to be there to experience it all firsthand to truly understand. After lunch, I continued up the trail and started to run into some much deeper snow as well as some wreckage from a small plane crash that happened quite some time ago.

The view of the surrounding mountains.
The snow was starting to get deeper with each step.
The plane wreckage right next to the trail!

After a short time, I reached the end of the Dixon Trail. However, I ultimately made the decision to keep going and add on the Mountain Loop Trail because I wanted to see just how deep the snow was at the top of Cheyenne Mountain. And I was not at all disappointed! With no footprints to follow, I pretty much relied on looking for the little trail markers and flags used to mark the trails at the top. I did fall several times due to it being both very slippery and also muddy in certain areas. Before long, I found myself going through snow drifts and areas that had knee high snow. Despite the conditions of the trail, the views of both the surrounding mountains and Colorado Springs down below really made me glad that I completed this long hike.

View from the Mountain Loop Trail looking south.
Beautiful picture of the snow and the drifts atop Cheyenne Mountain.
The Mountain Loop Trail going through the snow and trees.
Looking down towards Colorado Springs.

As the day progressed, it started to get cloudy and so I started to descend back towards the trailhead. When all was said and done, I made it back probably about fifteen minutes before it started to get dark. Overall, I’m very glad that I took advantage of the warm weather for January to get out and hike this trail.

Other Important Information

The cost for a day pass to enter the park is $8 and is valid until noon the following day. You might hear artillery fire on this hike as Fort Carson is located right across the street from the park entrance. On the Mountain Loop Trail, you will also notice various no trespassing signs due to the fact that the land nearby is owned by the United States Government. You can find more interesting information about the Cheyenne Mountain Complex by clicking here.