Last weekend, after an unsuccessful summit attempt on Pennsylvania Mountain, I spiraled into a depression hole for a little while. What’s wrong with me that I have such a hard time summiting these days? Am I really in that bad of shape?
I realized that I needed to do something different, and I desperately needed a “win”.
I caved and got a gym membership. I really hate going to the gym, but I need a way to get in shape faster as my normal hikes just aren’t cutting it. They offered a free 30-minute session with a trainer, which was actually pretty helpful! I felt great and my trainer even had to make a few of the exercises more difficult for me! Maybe I’m not in as bad of shape as I thought!?
I was off work Friday like usual, but it was a busy day regardless. Toby and I went and walked the last section of the 21-mile Poudre River Trail by our house in Greeley. It’s by no means an exciting trail (just a sidewalk along the river through town), but I’ve been plucking away at it here and there and made it a goal to finish it this year. (Yay, finally did it!)
After a successful morning, I drove down to Denver to pick up our newest batch of foster puppies. NINE this time! Sweet babies were abandoned under a house in Texas and finally are catching a break.
We got the puppies home and set up in their pen, and that’s when I saw the first tick. Oh crap. We’re going to need to check all of them. And might as well do flea baths while we’re at it! I go back downstairs to get started and I saw one puppy curled up in the corner. As I walked closer, his siblings were trampling him and he wasn’t moving. No no no no NOOOOOO!!! This can’t be happening! I tentatively reach down and he lifts his head. THANK GOODNESS!!! He’s super lethargic so I grab him first for his bath/inspection. I scratch his little ears and feel…something...inside them. I lift his ear and there are TICKS inside it! TONS of them! Poor baby was riddled with ticks, the little blood suckers were drinking him dry! We spent hours carefully checking each puppy, pulling off ticks, and giving flea baths. But finally we finished, and everyone is much healthier and happier now!
Saturday’s hiking plans changed approximately 200 times. Originally my friend Steph and I were going to a longer hike but the park we were interested in was closed due to muddy conditions. Then I decided to try for a snowy 12er summit, but when my 5am alarm went off, I was still exhausted from tick duty and decided to sleep in. A few hours later, after cleaning up the puppy pen and feeding everyone breakfast, I was regretting not heading out earlier, so I pressured Kyle into going hiking with me. The only problem was that I needed to find somewhere without snow or mud…
I reviewed my hike spreadsheet and decided to do some more mini-hikes! When added together, they’d make for a decent outing!
If you remember the last time I did mini-hikes, I was driving all over the place to connect the trails. This time I was smarter and picked hikes that were within a few miles of each other. There is a group of Denver Mountain Parks outside of Evergreen that have a ton of trails. We would be visiting two of those parks today.
Independence Mountain Overlook | Pence Park
Evergreen, CO | 05/11/19 | 2.35 miles | 762′ gain
First up, Independence Mountain Trail! This trail doesn’t go all the way to the summit (because that’s private property) but it does go to a neat overlook. We pulled into the parking lot around 10:15 and snagged the last parking spot. The trail started out pretty wide and gradual, and soon we approached an intersection. The lower part of the trail is a loop. We took the north side on the way up and the south on the way down. Signs mark each junction.
We were only on the loop about a half-mile when we reached the second junction and turned right on the out-and-back trail up Independence Mountain.
The trail changed from steep to nearly flat and back again, over and over, as we headed up the mountain. Some steep areas were slick with slushy snow, and we had to watch our step.
At the top, the trail turns and heads toward a rocky area. You can walk up or do some easy scrambling to get to the top.
Panorama Point | Corwina Park
Kittredge, CO | 05/11/19 | 3.18 miles | 630′ gain
Next up, Panorama Point! I assumed that since both the trails were very close to each other, we’d have a very similar experience but we actually found that each trail was quite different!
It was a quick drive to the second trailhead and now that it was 11:30, the lot was full. There was some legal parking along the road, however, so we parked there with no issue.
We crossed Bear Creek to get to the trailhead, and then immediately headed up the Panorama Point Trail.
The trail would be steep for a little while, then flatten out just when we thought we’d need to stop and catch our breath. This helped us keep moving instead of having to stop every few minutes. The trail started out following a tiny creek up a ravine. Eventually we crossed the main Bear Creek Trail and then headed up a ridge.
We made quick work of the ridge. Once you’re on top, it’s flat all the way to Panorama Point.
The overlook was pretty busy so we only stayed for a few minutes. We decided to make a loop at the top instead of going back the way we came. The map I was using on AllTrails showed a side trail that cut down quicker to the Bear Creek Trail, and we could take that back to the trail junction we’d crossed earlier. However, the trail we were on soon petered out in the forest, and we ended up bushwhacking down to the Bear Creek Trail. (So don’t listen to AllTrails, just go back the way you came!)
We were happy with our efforts today on two successful mini-hikes. This weekend has seriously made up for last weekend and I’m feeling so happy!
Tomorrow I’m doing a morning hike with my friend Steph before Mother’s Day lunch and an evening concert to wrap up the weekend. Stay tuned for that post within the next few days!