July 2019 Review

As I look back on the month of July, I’m pretty happy with what I was able to accomplish. I got out and hiked on eleven different occasions throughout the course of the month. Here’s a quick look at what I was up to:

  • July 1st: Mount Sniktau (13er)- 3.5 Miles
  • July 2nd: Centennial Cone Park- 12.5 Miles
  • July 4th: Pikes Peak (14er)- 14 Miles
  • July 8th: Deer Creek Canyon Park- 2.65 Miles
  • July 9th: Vasquez Peak (12er)- 12.4 Miles
  • July 14th: Loveland Pass Lake- 1 Mile
  • July 16th: Mount Evans Wilderness- 14.85 Miles
  • July 22nd: Bear Peak- 5.7 Miles
  • July 23rd: Mount Parnassus (13er) and Woods Mountain (12er)- 7.9 Miles
  • July 29th: Lily Mountain- 3.8 Miles
  • July 30th: Herman Lake- 6.8 Miles
  • Total Miles Hiked in July 2019: 85.1 Miles
  • Total Miles Hiked in 2019 so far: 309.54 Miles

Overall, I hiked to the summit of one 14er, two 13ers and two 12ers. In addition to that, I hiked to the summit of some smaller peaks on those mornings that I got off work and still had some energy. I originally planned on writing a post about Bear Peak near Boulder but scrapped that due to the fact that it was so foggy that entire morning.

For my hike on July 16th, I ended up getting most of the way to Abyss Lake before I somehow took a wrong turn. But I ended up finding an excellent spot to meditate! That in itself made it all worth it.

Aside from that, I figured I would share some more photos that I took throughout the month:

Above treeline while hiking to the summit of Pikes Peak.
Taken during a hike to Vasquez Peak.
Loveland Pass Lake.
Mount Evans Wilderness meditation spot.
Fern Canyon on the way up to Bear Peak.
The view atop Watrous Gulch.

I’m both glad and thankful that I was able to get out and explore throughout July 2019. Not only did I see a lot of cool places, I also feel like I experienced some self growth as well.

Herman Lake

On a cloudy Tuesday morning at the end of July, I set out on another adventure. In about an hour, I found myself parked at the Herman Gulch trailhead yet again for the second Tuesday in a row. This time, I decided to take the hike up to Herman Lake via the Herman Gulch trail. Here’s some more info:

  • Date: July 30th, 2019
  • Route: Herman Gulch Trail to Herman Lake
  • Mileage: 6.8 Miles

Getting There

The Herman Gulch trailhead is easily accessible by taking exit 218 off of Interstate 70. Their is plenty of parking but it does tend to fill up quickly on weekends.

The Route

For this particular hike, I simply followed the Herman Gulch trail all the way until I reached Herman Lake. It’s very well traveled and easy to follow.

Beginning of the Herman Gulch trail.

What surprised me right away was the amount of avalanche debris all over the place. Numerous trees had been uprooted and large boulders have been moved a considerable distance as well.

Avalanche debris

After passing through the avalanche debris area, I then encountered a large field of columbines. They were literally growing all over the place. The trail itself continues to go in and out of the woods with some areas being pretty wet while other parts had a ton of tree roots everywhere.

Large field of columbines.
Columbine close up.
Lots of tree roots.

Pretty soon, the mountains directly behind Herman Lake come into view. They just look so majestic for some reason. It continued to get even more cloudy to the point that I nearly turned around. I’m glad I didn’t though!

Storm clouds brewing.
Getting closer to Herman Lake.

Once I got closer to the lake, it was starting to sprinkle but I figured that their was no sense in turning around. Not only that, but I simply couldn’t turn around with so many amazing views all around me. A few minutes later, I reached the lake and was very surprised to see only one other person.

Looking back down towards the trailhead.
Herman Lake
A close up view of Herman Lake.

Originally, I intended to hike up to the summit of Pettingell Peak from the lake but with dark clouds continuing to build it seemed like a good idea to just turn around. Their is absolutely no point in putting yourself in danger to the point that you could potentially become a statistic. And I made the right choice!

The Return Trip

On this particular occasion, the trip back from Herman Lake was rather uneventful. Despite the weather, more people were beginning to head up the trail. This didn’t really surprise me given the fact that the trail is very heavily trafficked.

One last departing shot.

Once I got back towards the bottom near the trailhead, the sun began to fight through the clouds. I also took a few minutes to sit by the creek.

The creek was roaring!!

It was definitely a nice and relaxing hike! I totally recommend making the hike to Herman Lake if you haven’t done it already.

Mount Parnassus and Woods Mountain

On a sunny late July morning, I headed out for yet another cool hiking adventure. On this particular occasion, I set out to summit both 12,940 foot Woods Mountain as well as 13,579 foot Mount Parnassus. By my standards, it was a relatively easy day. Here’s some more information:

  • Date Hiked: July 23rd, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 7.9 Miles
  • Route: Watrous Gulch Trail to Woods Mountain and west slopes of Mount Parnassus
  • Class: 2

Getting There

The Herman Gulch trailhead is accessible by taking exit 218 off of Interstate 70. As soon as you go down the exit ramp, you will want to take two quick right turns and go on a dirt road. Plenty of parking can be found here, but definitely get there early if you plan on going during the weekend!

The Route

From the beginning of the Herman Gulch trail, I reached the intersection where both the Herman Gulch and Watrous Gulch trails split apart from each other and continued up the Watrous Gulch trail.

Where the trails intersect.

Below treeline, the trail is surrounded by a lot of trees and is pretty relaxing. The further up I started to get, I noticed that it does get pretty steep rather early on. Upon reaching a small creek, I was also greeted with a large uprooted tree!

Large uprooted tree.
The trail among the trees.

Before too long, the trees start to thin out. The surrounding area starts to come into view with remarkable views of nearby 14er Torreys Peak too.

Looking to the south towards Torreys Peak.

It was really turning out to be a nice morning. With nothing but blue skies around, I continued up the Watrous Gulch trail and made a quick stream crossing to stay on the trail. Right after the stream crossing, I came to another intersection for the Bard Creek trail but continued on the Watrous Gulch trail for a good while after that. You can still reach the summit of Mount Parnassus if you do end up taking the Bard Creek trail too.

Watrous Gulch.
Working my way up towards Woods Mountain.

Finally, I found myself out of the woods and above treeline. I probably say it all the time, but being above treeline and among the mountains is unlike anything else.

Looking back to the south.

Now, it was time to head up the southern slopes of Woods Mountain. An easier route does exist but it seemed pretty circuitous at the time. Nonetheless, I found myself on the trail at the top of the ridge before too long anyway.

I went straight up from this point.
Looking back down towards where I came up the mountain.
The trail on top of the ridge.

From this ridge, I continued east until I reached the summit of Woods Mountain. I took a well deserved break at the summit before continuing onto Mount Parnassus. Even from here, it was pretty awesome to look around at all of the neighboring peaks and see the ones that I have already reached the summit of.

Woods Mountain Summit

The views of other nearby 13ers was pretty remarkable as well!

Looking over towards Mount Parnassus and Bard Peak.
Looking out to the west towards Pettingell Peak and The Citadel.

After pondering for awhile and admiring the remarkable landscape, I picked a line and started to make my way up the western slopes of Mount Parnassus. The sun was starting to beat down but was nothing a little bit of sunscreen couldn’t handle!

Starting the journey up Mount Parnassus.
Almost to the summit!

The Summit

The summit of Mount Parnassus is just downright amazing. The route to nearby Bard Peak and Engelmann Peak becomes visible.

Mount Parnassus Summit.
Looking over towards Grays and Torreys Peaks.
Looking west.

The views in every direction were remarkable. And I figure that I probably spent more than thirty minutes at the summit. But it was getting closer to noon so it seemed like it was time to head back down in the direction of the trailhead.

The Return Trip

On the way down Mount Parnassus, I hiked towards the saddle between Woods Mountain and Mount Parnassus. From there, I headed for one of the side trails that cut off from the main trail up Watrous Gulch. But don’t worry I took a lot of pictures along the way back!

Looking up towards Woods Mountain.
Love this one.
The trail down to Watrous Gulch.

Overall, this hike was splendid. It had amazing scenery with remarkable views in every direction. I’d recommend it and look forward to doing it again sometime.

Vasquez Peak

Hiking through the Vasquez Peak Wilderness in order to reach 12,947 foot Vasquez Peak was certainly one hell of an adventure. It tested my stamina with the constant elevation change but I embraced the challenge. In fact, this hike was even referred to as the hardest hike in Grand County, Colorado. Here’s some more information:

  • Date Hiked: July 9th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 12.4 Miles
  • Route: Berthoud Pass via the Continental Divide Trail and Stanley Mountain

Getting There

Berthoud Pass is easily accessible from US Route 40 and offers some incredible hiking along the Continental Divide. The trail is on the west side of the road, so be careful and look both ways when crossing because it’s pretty much a blind curve!

The Route

The first part of this route follows the Continental Divide Trail and nearly reaches the summit of Stanley Mountain. But it’s all uphill for a little while until you get up onto the divide!

Not a cloud in the sky that morning!
The view once you get onto the Continental Divide Trail.

Now this is the part where things start to get interesting. Once I reached Stanley Mountain, it was time to descend to Vasquez Pass which is nearly 800 feet lower in elevation and quite steep. This part took what seemed like an eternity too.

At the beginning of the steep part.
The view from Vasquez Pass looking west.

From Vasquez Pass, I then went up the steep unnamed peak that is directly to the north of Stanley Mountain. It was pretty treacherous given the fact that a considerable amount of snow was still around.

Heading up the steep unnamed peak.
Looking back at Stanley Mountain.

Eventually, Vasquez Peak started to come more into view. But their was still plenty of work to be done!

Vasquez Peak!

At this point, it starts to flatten out a little bit before one more decent uphill section before reaching the summit. Even in early July when I hiked this, a lot of snow could still be found on the surrounding mountains.

The surrounding mountains.
Just below the summit.

Reaching the summit was definitely a welcome and much earned site!

The Summit

The summit.

The wind at the summit was absolutely ridiculous. It was gusting the entire 30 minutes that I was just sitting up there taking in the scenery. But it was so worth it.

Another summit view.

Before long, I was on my way again and wondering if I would see any other people or wildlife in the next several hours.

The Return Trip

So I attempted to retrace my steps back but somehow took a wrong turn and found myself surrounded by snow. But I wasn’t worried and chose to slide down through it using my backpack.

Looking back at Vasquez Peak.
One last zoom in photo of the mountain peaks off to the west.
Where I slid down from.
The snowy area I got through.

I figure the trip back took about four hours. All of the continuous up and down hiking was starting to make me tired. But I persevered and got through it. I guess I didn’t realize just how steep the majority of this hike was until I was about to start descending the unnamed peak.

Looking over at Stanley Mountain on the way back.
To truly give you an idea about how steep this section is. Not for the faint of heart!
One last picture before I began the long journey back to Stanley Mountain.

About an hour and a half later, I was finally back on the Continental Divide Trail and pretty close to the summit of Stanley Mountain. I was beginning to walk away when I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. And sure enough I was right! A mountain goat was lurking below the summit of Stanley Mountain enjoying the peaceful summer afternoon.

Looking back at the unnamed peak while nearly to the top of Stanley Mountain.
Mountain Goat living the high life!

After finally departing from Stanley Mountain, the remainder of the hike back to my car at Berthoud Pass was rather uneventful. That stroll on the flat tundra and a few downhill sections allowed me to just put it in cruise control and relax.

One last look back at Vasquez Peak from the Continental Divide Trail.

Overall, it took me about 8 hours to complete. Additionally, I would recommend starting very early because most of this hike is completely exposed above treeline.

As I look back on it, this route to Vasquez Peak was both mentally and physically demanding. I am glad I challenged myself and conquered it!

Pikes Peak

On July 4th, I got to do something I had always wanted to do for the longest time. And that is to climb Pikes Peak on Independence Day! While most people were fast asleep, Danielle and I were on our way to the trailhead around 3am that morning in order to get a good early start as well as a decent parking spot. Here’s some more info about the hike:

  • Date Hiked: July 4th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 14 Miles
  • Route: Northwest Slopes via the Crags Trail. Class 2
  • Total Elevation Change: 4,300 Feet
  • Summit Elevation: 14,115 Feet

Getting There

The shortest route up Pikes Peak is accessed from the Crags Trailhead located not too far from Divide, Colorado. While driving on US Route 24, you will want to keep an eye out for Colorado 67 as it does come up rather quickly.

After turning onto Colorado 67 and driving for about four miles, stay on it until after you pass Mueller State Park and you will see a dirt road on the left side that you will want to take. This dirt road is windy and will take you through the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp on the way to the trailhead parking lot about three miles later.

The Journey

Shortly after 5:30am, we began the journey to the summit. The trail starts out crossing the peaceful Fourmile Creek and it felt tranquil to walk through the forest as many birds were beginning to sing.

Fourmile Creek at the start of the trail.

After a couple miles, the trail begins to get noticeably steeper. It was also pretty cool to be up at the edge of treeline right as the sun was beginning to rise.

The sun beginning to rise on July 4th, 2019.
The view to the west a little later.

Pretty soon, we found ourselves above treeline. The views were starting to really open up now. More people were also starting to ascend the trail too. Slowly but steadily, we were making progress towards Devil’s Playground!

Danielle ascending through one of the steeper areas above treeline.
Pretty nice above treeline.
The trail as it zigzags through the terrain.

Hiking above treeline was a lot of fun throughout this hike. The scenery always seemed to be changing and it was just truly remarkable to finally be able to experience it.

The trail as it goes through some cool rock formations.

When we reached the Devil’s Playground, the trail began to get a lot more interesting. While staying parallel to the road to the summit, the trail starts to get much more rockier and the summit even comes into view too. Only one patch of snow was still on the trail, but it was pretty easy to hike through it.

Looking out towards the surrounding smaller peaks with the plains in the distance.
They call them the Rocky Mountains for a reason.
The route ahead.
The Pikes Peak road down below.

The final portion of the hike just below the summit definitely requires a lot of good concentration in order to stay on the trail. Although cairns lead the way, we made sure to take our time during this stretch.

Finally getting close!

And after what seemed like an eternity, we finally made it to the summit!

The Summit

The views at the top are just so incredible. To the east, Colorado Springs and endless views of the plains are visible. And to the west, the views of nothing but mountains greets you. Being at the summit of America’s mountain was truly a remarkable feeling and we were just so proud of ourselves for actually getting out and making it to the summit.

We stayed up on the summit for about an hour and went into the Pikes Peak Summit House to eat some Cheeseburgers before heading back outside to take some more photos.

Looking to the northeast.
We even made custom shirts for this remarkable occasion!

The Return Trip

We left the summit at a perfect time because a thunderstorm was beginning to develop directly over Colorado Springs. About 45 minutes after we had left the summit, the storm would continue to grow and eventually move up and over the top of the peak.

Luckily, we were far enough away when all of that happened!

Further down, we also saw a mountain goat hanging in a super steep area.

A mountain goat hanging out.
Love this photo!

The only thing I regret about this whole excursion was forgetting to bring sunscreen.

But aside from that, it was truly a July 4th I’ll never forget!

Centennial Cone Park Loop

A day after hiking to the summit of Mount Sniktau and probably sleeping about twelve hours, I decided to do a much longer hike the following day since I felt so well rested. Although I woke up too late to hike a larger peak, I figured I’d stay closer to Denver and check out Centennial Cone Park. I must admit that this might be one of my favorite parks in the Jefferson County Open Space system.

Nonetheless, here’s some more info about my hike:

  • Date Hiked: July 2nd, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 12.5 Miles
  • Trails Hiked: Elk Range and Travois Trails

Getting There

Centennial Cone Park has several trailheads to pick from as you can see on the park map. I chose to park at the Ralph Schell trailhead where I found only two other cars that day.

The Journey

From the trailhead, I started down the Elk Range trail. It felt really pleasant to hike through the meadow and only encounter several mountain bikers as well as the occasional family every now or then. After a short time, the trail comes to the top of a nice ridge which offers some views of the surrounding mountains and valley below.

Looking back to the east while on the Elk Ridge Trail.
Continuing west on the Elk Range Trail.

Pretty soon, I found myself leaving the meadow and entering into a more wooded part of the hike. Right before reaching the west trailhead, I took the Travois trail where the Elk Range trail meets it and continued on with the hike despite the clouds starting to build to the west.

Right before going onto the Travois trail.
A regular afternoon storm building out to the west.

After a couple more miles, some pretty remarkable views of Clear Creek Canyon opened up right in front of me. At this point, it was starting to get pretty hot and the fact that their was no shade around didn’t help. But that’s how it is sometimes.

The trail with Clear Creek Canyon on the right.
A nice view of the foothills with Clear Creek Canyon down below.

I should also mention that their is a pretty significant change in elevation throughout the duration of the hike. I definitely felt it on the way back. With the thunder growing steadily louder, it seemed like the perfect time to pick up the pace before all hell broke loose.

One last nice view.
The storm closing in.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty enjoyable hike. Wouldn’t mind doing it again at some point!

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.

Stanley Mountain

Located within the Vasquez Peak Wilderness area, the hike to the summit of Stanley Mountain is a truly remarkable one. Standing at 12,521 feet, it proved to be a great challenging hike, especially considering the fact that their was still a decent amount of snow until I managed to get above treeline.

Here’s some more info about my hike that day:

  • Date Hiked: June 25th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 7.9 Miles
  • Total Elevation Change: 1,214 Feet
  • Summit Elevation: 12,521 Feet

Getting There

Stanley Mountain can be accessed from Berthoud Pass just off of US Highway 40. At the pass, you will find plenty of parking and restrooms. Once there, you simply have to carefully cross the highway and follow the trail as it begins its ascent into the Vasquez Peak Wilderness Area.

Alternatively, you can also access Stanley Mountain by driving to a parking area that is near the Henderson Mine and hike up from there on a well defined trail.

The Journey

From the start of the trail until I got above treeline, it was nothing but scattered patches of both snow and snow drifts. At one point, I even encountered a snow drift that was about four feet tall on the trail. So, I was pretty much forced to follow the footsteps of several other people who attempted it before I did, and even bushwhack at times too.

Scattered deep snow drifts.
A deep snow drift on the trail.

The views really started to open up above treeline. I was quite relieved to be above treeline that day because it was a genuine struggle. But it was so worth it. I’m super glad I didn’t turn around and found the motivation within me!

Looking towards the east.
Still quite a bit of snow!

Only one particularly steep section stood out to me on this hike. It looks more difficult than it actually was. And once I got past this section of zigzagging switchbacks, it was smooth sailing to the summit.

Steep switchbacks with snow at the top.

While hiking through the switchbacks, I also happened to stumble upon several Ptarmigans. Additionally, a marmot also came out of seemingly nowhere and ran up the trail ahead of me before it disappeared.

Ptarmigan out living its best life.

At the top of the switchbacks, I finally reached the top of the ridge. Right at this point, the wind started to pick up and was just absolutely brutal. Also, the snow was almost completely melted off the trail, except for one small snowfield a bit further ahead. Everything else could be easily avoided.

The journey ahead.
Looking towards the northeast.
Getting closer to the summit!

Luckily enough, the weather also held off the entire time while I was above treeline.

A picturesque day!

The Summit

Overall. the views from the summit were pretty neat. I probably sat up there for a good 15 minutes or so before I decided to explore some of the surrounding area.

Looking down on the Henderson Mine area.
Looking to the west.
The actual summit.

So before I turned around, I started to descend down towards Vasquez Pass just out of curiosity to see just how steep it was. The path down is actually well marked with cairns. Ultimately, I decided to turn around as I figured storms would start to form at anytime due to the fact that it was already almost noon.

The Return Trip

Overall, the trip back to Berthoud Pass was eventful in that it involved doing some more bushwhacking and watching some thunderstorms form nearby. Also on my way back, I noticed that their were still some cornices at the edges of several of the ridges that looked pretty deep!

Watching a storm forming to the south.
Pretty big cornice.
Getting closer to Berthoud Pass.

Overall, I really enjoyed this hike. I will most likely hike out this way again when I head up to Vasquez Peak later on this summer. I’d definitely recommend this hike to anybody too. It was hard but not overwhelming at all. It was a pretty rewarding 12er with great views nearly the entire way too. Definitely a day well spent!