Like Haiyaha Hike

We like a good hike, and every once in a while we have the chance to hike slow, take pictures, and share the adventure with you. You can check out some of our previous Colorado hikes here.

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These are photos from a hike that we took a few months ago, and I just happened to find them here in an unpublished post. I was so sure that I wrote about this hike, but a few searches finally convinced me that I’m crazy.

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I have this thing where once a season full hits, I have a hard time remembering what other seasons are like. When we’re covered in snow, I can’t remember exactly what a hot summer day feels like. And vice versa. You would think that looking at pics would help, but I’m just confused and trying so hard to remember what this hike felt like. Welcome to my twilight zone.
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This is a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, and this page has a great description of the trail and details about getting to the trail head, so I won’t repeat those details. The one thing I will emphasize is that RMNP is CRAZY PACKED during any nice day, including this particular one. It can be really difficult to find parking. They have a park shuttle that will take you to many of the roadside trail heads. If you are flexible, that may be the way to go. Since we had the boys, two packs, and other gear, we chanced it and luckily we found a parking spot, but it was touch and go.  liveseasoned_haiyaha3liveseasoned_haiyaha4 liveseasoned_haiyaha5 liveseasoned_haiyaha6

This hike was particularly nice because the trails take you past a number of small lakes and there are plenty of scenic overlooks. On the day we were there, the weather was in flux. It started out sunny but windy, then there was a light rain, and at the top of the mountain, snow! It made for some pretty beautiful and dramatic scenes, but it’s also a reminder to be prepared for any weather when hiking in the mountains. We dressed in layers, and were comfortable throughout the hike.
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As you can see, we hiked with both boys in packs, which had become our m.o. last fall. Many of the hikes we were doing were well over a couple of miles and involved patches of rugged or steep terrain, so to keep everyone happy, it made sense to carry the kiddos. Even though our boys are bursting with energy, they both were happy to be carried (who wouldn’t be?!).

I love for the kids to be awake and experience nature as we hike, but with some of these longer hikes, it can be nice to plan the hike so that it overlaps with naptime. That’s what happened here. Calder and I still had a beautiful hike, and the boys were happy to nap for a portion of the hike. liveseasoned_haiyaha10 liveseasoned_haiyaha11 liveseasoned_haiyaha12 liveseasoned_haiyaha13 liveseasoned_haiyaha14

Of course, when you get to the lake, it’s beautiful. There’s nothing quite like an alpine lake. The water is clear, cold, and this particular one was slightly green/blue in color. We sat on the rocky banks and ate a little snack before heading back down the trail. We didn’t pack a full lunch because we were saving our appetites for some mountain dogs.
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Ahhh, seeing this photos, I really can’t wait to get back to the park for a winter visit! It’s going to happen one day soon… liveseasoned_haiyaha17

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Winter Break Snapshots

What a winter break we’ve had! We have one more day left tomorrow, and we’re going to do what we’ve been doing the past couple of weeks – spend it outside. It seems like we’ve really hit our stride this year when it comes to embracing the winter. Of course, it’s all about good clothes, a good spirit, and just doing it, but I’ll talk about that in another post. Today, I’m sharing just a glimpse of what we’ve been up to these past few weeks.

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We started our break in Steamboat Springs, CO (one of our favorite ski towns in the state!). We arrived at the start of a snowstorm that lasted well into the next day and maybe the day after? I can’t remember. But we still had a great time skiing and snowshoeing all over the mountain.

On our third, and final, day in town, we visited Strawberry Park Hot Springs before driving home. We had been here once last winter, and it was just as magical as I remembered.

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We arrived home the same day that Sarah and our family flew into town, and then every pitched in and helped us prepare to host a big party for C’s office. There was definitely a moment of “what are we doing?!” the night before, but in the end, the party was awesome, the food delicious, the company amazing, and the music pumping.
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The party was followed by a day of rest and then it was off to the mountains to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad with Santa! We did this last year and I was really excited to do it again. When you arrive at the station, there’s hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts to munch on. Then you board the train and start riding with the excitement of knowing that Santa’s going to come and sit with you to say hi. It’s such a nice way to visit Santa, because there are no lines – you just wait in your seat on the train until Santa gets to you, meanwhile, the train’s moving through the beautiful Colorado mountains.
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Back in Boulder, we did more hiking. christmas_break2016_12

And snowball throwing. christmas_break2016_13 christmas_break2016_14

And then it was off to the mountains again for more skiing and snowshoeing!
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Home for more hiking…christmas_break2016_24 christmas_break2016_25

And here we are, relaxing, making our list of resolutions, and preparing for one more day on the slopes before we’re back to a regularly scheduled week.

I hope your break was full of warmth, family, food, and all of that holiday magic. xo

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Postcards from the Rockies

If you’d like to see more of our outdoor adventures, here’s a post from another car-camping trip with the boys, and here are a few of the hikes we’ve documented.

This past weekend we went on a short one-night camping trip near Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and had such a great time. We didn’t do any major planning or packing, just a couple of hours Saturday morning, and then we started driving during nap time, and by the afternoon we found a campsite (more on that below), then we woke up Sunday and took off for a hiking destination that was in the direction of home, and we made it back to our house by late afternoon. It was a short but sweet trip that left everyone happy and tired.

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One thing that still overwhelms me since moving to Boulder is how crowded hiking and camping areas are in this area. I understand that it’s the confluence of living near a large urban area (with a high percentage of people that like to get outside) and living near some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (I may be biased), but wow – there seem to be crowds at every campground, on every hiking trail, and on every road. I’ll get used to it eventually. The problem is that it makes it hard for non-planners like us to go for an adventure on a whim.

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Colorado Hike : Eldorado Canyon State Park

We love to go hiking, and every once in a while we share our adventures on the blog. If you would like to see more hiking posts, click here.

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Last week a friend tipped us of to the awesomeness that is Eldorado Canyon State Park, in particular Fowler Trail. As an active 2.5 year old, Alex is really excited to get outside and do whatever we’re doing. Translating this to hiking, it means that he’s much happier walking along with us than riding in the backpack. Unfortunately, his little legs get tired fairly quickly, so I’m always on the hunt for trails that are not that steep or long. Fortunately, Fowler trail is both short* and relatively flat! As you’ll see in the photos, it also provides outstanding views of canyon walls filled with climbers, making it extra exciting for our little adventurer. One look at the climbers and he exclaimed, “wow, that’s wild!”.

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Camping with Little Kids

Want to see more of our camping posts? Click here to see posts with previous adventures and our gear suggestions. Or maybe you just want to come along with us on a day hike?

One of the things Calder and I are really looking forward to are camping adventures with the boys, but somehow we’ve had a hard time making time/plans for a trip this summer. Side note : since moving to Colorado, we’ve learned that you have to plan these trips in advance if you want to secure a site at a campground. Reservations are scooped up as soon as they come online! If you aren’t able to reserve a spot, there are some campgrounds that hold a few spots open for first-come-first-serve arrivals, but we’ve been too lazy to go through the effort of packing the car and taking the risk.  We know we could just head out into the wilds, but again, we’ve been lazy.

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As luck would have it, friends (hi Neha!) of ours were going on trip with a few other families, some sites opened up, and we were able to take one. Score! Alex is just a few months past his second birthday and Luc is four months old, so this was our first trip with both a toddler and an infant, and I thought it might be useful to share our tips/tricks for a super easy and enjoyable weekend camping trip. As you’ll see, we kept everything so simple for this trip. If you’re hesitant about camping with kids, I want to encourage you to do it and show you how it can be done without a lot of stress, tears, or baby gear. Of course, if gear is your thing, then pack on :-).

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24 Hours in Denver (with kids!)

First to set the scene: As last week was coming to an end, Calder and I knew that we wanted to do something fun for the weekend. Ideally, we wanted to head into the mountains and camp, but the weather was not cooperating. What do I mean? The forecast called for rain/SNOW, and that’s exactly what we got! Recognizing that a few days of precipitation were on the horizon, we didn’t want to force a camping trip of any sort knowing that everyone could end up a bit miserable.

We cut our losses and had a flash of genius on Friday when we decided to get a hotel room in Denver for Saturday night. It ended up being such a great decision because with some simple planning we had a fun weekend away from the house, visited new-to-us Denver attractions, ate great food, and came home without feeling overly tired or frazzled (which can happen so easily when a toddler’s in the mix!).

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Today I wanted to share the recipe we discovered for our perfect weekend in Denver (or any larger city), which included:

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Snowshoeing in the Rockies II

This is Alex’s second winter and the second year that we took the little guy out on a snowshoeing adventure during our Christmas break. If you like to get outside for exercise and have a little one that’s too small for many winter sports but is happy to be bundled up and spend a bit of time out in the cold, then this is a great family winter activity!

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In our case, Alex is still too little to ski and pregnancy is limiting my options this year, but snowshoeing is the one outdoor activity that we can all do (other than our many, many walks around the neighborhood pulling the little guy in his sled!).

Planning for an afternoon snowshoeing adventure is relatively simple:

  • Special equipment. You’ll obviously need a pair of snowshoes. A good pair can be a bit expensive, but will provide years of entertainment if you like going out. On the other hand, there are only a few sizes of snowshoe, based upon the wearer’s weight, so why not borrow or rent a pair before buying your own?
  • Got your gators? If the snow’s particularly deep and fluffy, then you may want to wear a pair of gators. On this trip, Calder’s wearing gators, while I have a pair of tall boots; both work well.
  • We suggest dressing in layers ~ it may be cold outside, but it’s likely that you’ll quickly build up some body heat with each step, so you’ll want to be prepared to unzip and possibly take off your outer layer.
  • Plan on carrying little ones. As you can see, last year we were a bit more prepared for the adventure, using a proper baby carrier. This year, we forgot all carriers in our packing frenzy (rushing to get on the road before a Christmas day winter storm). BUT we had this regular old backpack, and, much to my surprise, Alex was more than happy to sit in it for the whole trip.
  • Don’t forget your sunscreen.
  • Tell someone where you’re going.

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It was a cold day, so we only stayed out for about 20-30 minutes, but that was plenty of time for a good walk. *** Quick note ~ this is where we should mention that if you’re pregnant you may want to proceed at your own risk (or, talk to your favorite doc first). While Calder and Alex went on a larger loop, I realized that at such a high altitude it was better for me to take it slow and walk with them at the beginning and end of their loop rather than push my limits. If you exercise regularly, a vigorous snowshoe at lower altitudes while pregnant is much less of an issue.

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This turned out to be one of those perfectly planned days where we were able to meet everyone’s fun quota.  We rode the gondola to the top of the mountain, which makes the whole adventure even more fun for little ones! Calder carried along his skis and was able to put in a few runs after our walk while Alex and I warmed up by the lodge’s fir. Then we all had lunch before Alex and I rode the Gondola down and Calder took another run to the bottom of the mountain.

At that was it ~ our simple but fun snowshoeing adventure for the whole, growing family… we’re hoping to fit in a few more trips this winter, and I’m already imagining next year’s adventure when we’ll have two little ones in packs! 
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Colorado Hike : Ajax Mountain

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A few weeks ago we took a leisurely afternoon hike on the Nature Trail that starts at the top of Ajax, or Aspen, Mountain. This was an out and back hike that was super easy with barely any elevation gain because you do all of your climbing as you ride the gondola to the top of the mountain!

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If you want to head straight for the hike, veer left as you get off the gondola and you’ll have no trouble finding the trail. If you’re heading up with kiddos, veer to the right and there are plenty of fun activities to let them burn off the energy before/after riding the gondola. Our little guy was just interested in the huge sand pit and trucks, but there are also spaces to dig for gold, go rock climbing, go trampoline jumping, and room for some good old running.

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As well as delivering beautiful mountain views, the trail dips into the pine forest, giving you a reprieve from the bright alpine sun.

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This was our third hike and I was excited to see yet more wildflowers in bloom. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a guide with me, and had trouble identifying some new-to-me species from the photos. If you have any clues as to the names of the unidentified flowers below, I would really appreciate it!

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We hiked out to the point where there was a perfectly clear view of the Aspen Highlands ski resort. At this point you can also see the very top of one of the two Maroon Bells peaks. We spent some time sitting here, letting little A out of the pack to tool around and throw some rocks, while C and I talked to other hikers. It seemed to be a common stopping/turning point for many people.

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Extra Details:

  • During the summer months, the gondola’s open daily from 10:00am-4:00pm. A single ticket costs $19.00, but if you’re staying for a few days, or planning to take the bus up to Maroon Bells, they have a great package for $29.00.
  • Of course, you’re welcome to skip the gondola and turn this into a more rigorous, multi-hour hike by starting your walk from the bottom of the mountain. This is something that you can do any time of day in the summer, but only before the gondola opens during ski season.
  • This is probably obvious, but take sunscreen and a hat! You’ll be more comfortable because the sun is bright and there are plenty of areas without tree cover.

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Colorado Hike : Chautauqua Park

We love to get out for hikes as often as possible and thought it would be fun to document these little adventures, like our recent trip to Maroon Bells.

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Last weekend we decided to stay close to home, wanting to explore more of what Boulder has to offer, so for our weekend hike we headed to Chautauqua Park (pronounced with a soft “shhh” for the CH – I’m still getting the hang of it!). Chautauqua was one of the older open space areas purchased by the city over 100 years ago when it began preserving wild lands. The park is home to the Colorado Chautauqua  Association, which provides cultural and educational programs throughout the year. Among its many buildings and features, the Association has a dining hall, general store, and cottages that you can rent! On this particular day we skipped all of the buildings and headed straight for the hills, but we’re hoping to stop in to the dining hall for brunch after our next hike.

**Before moving to Boulder, I was unfamiliar with Chautauqua, the adult education movement. Were you?

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Arriving at the park, we knew it was a popular weekend destination, but were overwhelmed by just how many people were there. These pictures don’t do the crowds justice. At all times there were people in front of us, behind us, scaling the rock face to our right and left. There were babies laughing (and crying), there were more college-age girls chatting away than I wish to remember. Ugh, it was crowded. But, the scenery totally made up for it, and I can’t wait to get back out there on a weekday. A friend also tipped me off that if we start at Four Pines on King St., then we won’t hit the crowds. Keep that secret.

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Before heading out, we asked for some trail recommendations and received a number of excited responses suggesting Royal Arch Trail, but it was still closed for raptor nesting.  So, with all of the well-marked trails in the park, we decided to wing it. We headed up Chautauqua Trail, made a left on Blue-Baird Trail, and then came back down on Bluebell Trail. In total, the hike took about an hour.

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As you hike up the hill you leave the grasslands behind, entering the pine forests and areas of exposed bedrock and boulders of the Flatirons.

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There are two climbers in the photo on the right above! They are near the top of the single pine tree that’s growing out of the rock face. Eventually you reach a few open areas overlooking the city.

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liveseasoned_summer2014_hike18Just like last week’s hike, there were plenty of flowers blooming here with a promise of more to come.

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On our way back down the hill (mountain?) we left the pine trees behind and welcomed the grasses again. As you can see from these photos, the skies were overcast for our whole hike, but I think that worked to our advantage, keeping us cooler and less worried about sunburns as we walked.

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Extra Details:

  • Knowing that the area is popular on weekends, we were worried about parking, but easily found on-street parking a few blocks from the entrance.
  • I had a hard time finding a good trail map online, until I looked to Google. Google’s map of the park is great, with all trails well marked!
  • A hiking-with-kids tip: We knew we were heading out during Little A’s naptime, so rather than take the hiking carrier that doesn’t offer him anywhere to rest his head, we put him in the Ergo on Calder’s back. It was an easy carry for this short hike, and within a minute Alex was content and sleeping with his head supported between Calder’s back and the Ergo’s hood.

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Colorado Hike : Maroon Bells

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They say that the Maroon Bells, those two mountain peaks in the photo above, are the most photographed spot and most famous scene in Colorado. I had never been, so we made it one of our small adventures over the Fourth of July weekend.

The area is breathtaking in summer. Wildflowers are blooming everywhere you look. In early July there was still some snow on the mountains, reminding you just how high you are, yet it’s melting quickly, so the streams are roaring adding an element of excitement to every bridge crossing. And as if it couldn’t get any better, there were signs of beavers and a couple of moose!

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Maroon lake was created by glacial deposits, but there are also some busy beavers on the lake working to build up the dam. We followed the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail along the lake, over the roaring Maroon Creek, through an aspen grove, and around to a small active beaver pond.

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liveseasoned_summer2014_maroonbells8_wmWe were standing at the pond, taking in the tranquil scene, when all of a sudden someone realized that we were looking right at a moose! Can you see him in the lower center of the photo below, to the left of the pond? This was my first moose sighting and I was ecstatic, the other members of my party – not so much. Apparently moose are extremely dangerous. So much to my chagrin, we turned around and headed back the way we came.

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Wildflowers were blooming all along the trail, but particularly in the riparian and shrubland areas around the lake. We visited just at the beginning of the blooming season, but if you want to see everything in peak bloom, schedule your visit for late July into August.

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When I got back to the house and was identifying plants, I couldn’t believe that we saw the most poisonous plant in North America. A piece of the water hemlock’s root the size of a marble can kill an adult in 15 minutes! Even more frightening, children have died while playing with the hollowed out stem, using it as a peashooter and such. Crazy!

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Walking along the Scenic trail, you get a fantastic view of the beaver’s home. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any beavers, but just being close to their dam and home was fun. Fun fact from Calder: beavers can get up to 150 pounds!

From this vantage point, you can also look back towards the dam and see the crowds along the shore. The photo below is the mountain version of those beach paintings/photos where everyone is just a colored speck in the sand grassland, isn’t it?

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As we were driving back down into town, we noticed a group of cars pulled off to the side of the road. There was another moose! This one was far enough away that no one was in danger, so I hopped out and took a few more photos. Two moose in one day, I was a happy camper.

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Before you go:

  • The Scenic Trail was an easy hike with a few steep spots, but overall there was relatively little elevation gain. Waterproof shoes with good traction are recommended as there were muddy areas.
  • Wild at Heart is a fantastic resource if you’re planning a visit. It’s a field guide to the plants, birds, and mammals of the rockies, with a particular focus on the Aspen-Snowmass area. I know that it’s out of print and not available on Amazon, but I’m pretty sure you can still pick it up in some of the shops around Aspen and Snowmass (I just received my copy as a birthday present, so it’s out there!).

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Getting there:

  • Traffic is restricted from mid-June through September
  • The site is open to all traffic from 7:00am-9:00am and 5:00pm-7:00pm
  • With a few exceptions, all visitors are required to take a bus from 9:00am-5:00pm. You catch the bus in Aspen Highlands Village (where you can park for free). The pass fee is $6/adult, $3/child.
  • Cars with children under 2, disabled passengers, or groups of 11 or more are allowed through from 9:00am-5:00pm if they pay a $10 fee.
  • You can also drive up if you are camping in the area
  • For detailed information see this site.

 

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