Summer Hiking – Little Horseshoe Park Trail

Life is really short. You just don’t realize it until it’s almost too late. My chronic migraines keep me from doing a lot of things you would consider normal. Nonetheless, I do what I can to get out of the city and into the mountains. I love living in Colorado! We can head out early for a day hike and be back in the evening.

Just recently, I went on a hike with 14 other people up in Rocky Mountain National Park. One of them was my usual hiking partner so, I actually joined her group of people over 50 years old for one hike. They had more stamina than I did and were killing it up that mountain!

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We hiked 5.6 miles of a muddy horse trail loop complete with their manure. Yuck! The horses and Rangers thought we were weird hiking on this particular trail. So what if we followed our group leader and ended up where most people don’t hike? We enjoyed the change of scenery. It was an adventure. haha

The Park Rangers were working on the trail and the dirt they got rid of was carried out by the horses. Apparently, the horses can spook easily, so we had to stand still and quiet while they went by. This guy was cute and wondering what I was doing with my camera.

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You can see the Park Rangers working in the background. They were making and installing a new bridge to replace the worn out one over the bubbling stream.

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See how worn out it is? I think it probably was unsafe for the horses. Well, actually, unsafe for anyone who crossed it.

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There were visitors in the park going on a slow horseback ride through the woods. I want to do that someday. The horses knew what they were doing. They were given no directions at all. Just follow your friend in front of you.

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The elevation gain was just over 800 feet. There were some amazing views like this one from Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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We ran into a couple Wild Turkeys, lots of different birds and a few Elk. We saw plenty of wildflowers but I didn’t even think to take pictures of them. Next time, I will remember.

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The fields we came across were growing new summer flowers after the 3 feet of snow they got the week before melted. Having a blue sky with white, pillowy clouds, an evergreen mountain side and the snow capped mountain range looming over the flat, lush green field made for a great picture.

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The horse trail itself was very well maintained. The Park Rangers were working hard on keeping it safe too. Little Horseshoe Park trail was very clear to see and there was nothing on the trail blocking anything.

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Fallen tree trunks and branches were cut down and put in piles for controlled burns later. Hey, I guess I did take a picture of wild flowers! After some quick research, the yellow one is called Golden Banner, the white one I have no idea what it is and the wood debris pile is called slash. The more we know, right? 😉

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So, we hiked up for a bit then, down too. We walked on a few plank bridges over ice cold snow melt streams a few times. Brr, that water was COLD, by the way!

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After a while, we took a break and had some lunch. All in all, it was so peaceful and a much needed rest from the city. My friend and I enjoyed hiking with a lot of other people. It was cool to learn about everyone and where they came from.

I’m thinking of making my own hiking group. A small one of family and close friends to start then expand. I love finding new trails but I really think I will skip a horse trail in the future. 🙂 Go out, enjoy the scenery, my friends!

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A Breath of Fresh Air

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Sprague Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO – elevation 8,200 ft

I took a hike last week.

It was during the week of the Summer Solstice that was ushering in the welcomed, warm weather and I wanted to see waterfalls.

Actually, I hiked more than once. The Rocky Mountain air smelled so clean, fresh and cool in my tired nostrils and lungs. How could I not hike more?

My husband and I first took a leisurely half-mile stroll around Sprague Lake, a man-made 13 acre lake built by Abner Sprague. The view was beautiful! You could see 5 different peaks and mountains that make up part of the Continental Divide.

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St. Malo’s ‘Chapel on the Rock’, Allenspark, CO – July 2012

As we were driving to the trailhead for our next hike along the Peak to Peak highway, we stopped at this beautiful stone church that I had wanted to take more pictures of. It was built in 1936 by Oscar and Edith Malo and named St. Catherine of Siena Chapel.

Pope St. John Paul II visited, prayed in and blessed the small, aptly nicknamed ‘Chapel on the Rock’ at St. Malo’s Retreat during his 1993 World Youth Day tour to Colorado.

On November 14, 2011, a fire destroyed most of the nearby 60,000 square foot retreat and conference center and the Archdiocese of Denver closed it for repairs.

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Mt. Meeker looms over St. Malo’s ‘Chapel on the Rock’ after the flood – June 2016

Plans were made to reopen Camp St. Malo, then in September of 2014, a massive flood wiped out everything… everything except the ‘Chapel on the Rock’.

This 5-mile long landslide, triggered by the flood, had swirling cold water, thick mud, big trees and heavy rocks come rushing down from Mount Meeker and tore up the entire area’s landscape. The little pond below the church and the big evergreen tree next to it were gone.

St. Malo’s was officially closed indefinitely. The chapel, that was spared from fire and flood, is still open and hosts many weddings to this day.

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Colorado’s State Flower – Rocky Mountain Columbine

As we hiked another trail, that took us to yet another waterfall, we found random Colorado Columbines dotting the ground. The purple and white Columbines are our State flower.

They added a splash of color around the green and lush trails and pathways that surrounded us. It was very peaceful for a beautiful June summer day.

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White Columbine

There are many different varieties of Columbines, but these were my favorite since they grow in nature wherever they please. They attract humming birds that you can barely catch with your eye as they flit about.

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Upper Copeland Falls, RMNP

We made it to Copeland Falls and it was roaring! The water was rushing down so fast it had white caps!

It was all snow runoff from the mountains as it melt. It felt frigid and you couldn’t keep your hand in long before it started hurting. The water had this green tinge to it even.

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Lower Copeland Falls, RMNP

If you spend a few days in nature, you’re bound to bring back inspiration and feel more relaxed. Wanting to come back and find more trails wondering where the rambling will lead you.

After a few miles, I was tired and worn out. We went back to our cabin and rested… for a few hours. We hiked til we couldn’t hike anymore during the whole week we were up there. We did 2 hikes a day and never saw so much wildlife!

Big antler-growing elk wandered around in the front yard of our cabin that happened to back up to the Big Thompson River. Great Horned Owl Mom, Dad and almost grown chick hung out on a rock face next to the parking lot as the afternoon storm rolled in.

As we drove up Trail Ridge Road, after dark, to watch the Summer Solstice Full Moon rise, there were elk everywhere, bigger than our Outback, in the field and next to the road. The night sky littered with stars were so clear up at the Alpine Visitor Center, which is at 11,796 feet (3,595 m) above sea level. Everyone should go stargazing up there!

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My husband watching the water rush by at Copeland Falls

It was time to get back to our city life and reality. Fortunately, for us, we only live an hour and a half away from Rocky Mountain National Park. We can come back anytime we want to.

Believe me. We will be back to decompress again. There’s nothing like a hike way out in a forest by a raging river. You feel so small yet appreciate the largeness of it all.

As Mother Nature intended.

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