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Heart Lake Trail, Snowy Range, WY Sept 11, 2010

February 4, 2012

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Finally got to the last real hike I took in 2010 (yes, I know it’s 2012; I still have 6 or so hikes remaining to blog about for 2011 before I start hiking in 2012 : ).  And it was a nice one.  On an early fall weekend I decided to head to the Snowy Range in Wyoming.  It’s one of those areas I like to go to once a year, so I figured it I was gonna make it this year, now was the time.  The Snowy Range is a very high altitude land of “timber line and above”.  So, winter would come early.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard, rather longish, comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in that gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (plus there are more of them).   A Google Earth map can be found here in case you want to go yourself. You will need to use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips. Please note that some of the links for the hikes are located somewhere in the hike itself, while other links on the map are the trailhead for the hike located on a road. The issue being, even if the link looks like it’s pointing to a road, that’s actually just the trailhead. Please note that all links open a new browser window.

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The day dawned very clear.  Your standard perfect fall day in the Rockies.  Normally I head for the eastern side of the Snowy Range, but I decided to cruise around to the “back side” on the western part of the range and check it out.  Glad I did as the western side has a totally different “flavor” to it compared to the eastern side. The eastern side of the Snowy range has all the popular campgrounds and trailheads.  For a good reason, as there are a lot of pretty lakes and scenic views of the mountains.  Of course, that means that the eastern side is quite popular.  I found the western side to be a different type of “scenic”,  much less “approachable” (not near as developed) and, thus, much fewer people.

In addition to the Google map link above, please see a live Google map below. Point B from Fort Collins is at the trailhead.  The blue line may, or may not, have been the route I took from my home in Fort Collins, CO. You can “grab” the map to scroll it around and use the “+” and “-“ icons in the upper left hand corner to zoom in or out to get more detail. You can also click on the “View Larger Map” link and it will bring up the map in a larger window (if you right click on the link and select “Open Link in new tab/window” then you can have both my blog and the map open at the same time).

One issue I had at the very beginning was determining just where to turn off the highway to get back to my targeted location for the day’s hiking.  My advice is to get a good topo map from Jax or some other place.  There are a lot of similar looking dirt road turnoffs.  By use of the map I was able to figure out the correct turn off to head towards a trail that led to Heart Lake.

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After going only a mile or less on the graveled road I reached a point that looked like a good place to park.  A little further the road began to enter that phase where only vehicles with very good clearance and/or four wheel drive should venture.  It’s always sorta a guesstimate of where exactly you should pull over and park.  With slow driving, and luck, you can get quite a ways on some of the roads.  Depends how much you want to risk beating your vehicle up.  And, if you don’t get out before dark, such roads get very tricky at the end of the day.  I normally err on the side of caution with my little Hyundai.

Because I parked some ways from the trailhead, that meant a little walking on a dirt road for a while.  Sometimes this can mean eating a little dust from four wheel drive vehicles.  But no worries today.  Except for two ATVs (and a couple of parked vehicles) I saw zero people the ENTIRE day.  If I had been on the other side of the range I would have had a difficult time finding a parking space and the trails would have been crowded with people.  Quite the difference.

The walk on the rough dirt road took me past South Twin Lake.

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Baker Gulch, RMNP, Sept 18, 2011

December 31, 2011

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Last fall, Sept 18, 2011, I decided to go up into a range of mountains that, up to now, I hadn’t done much hiking in.  I’m referring to the Never Summer range on the west side of RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park).  I was hoping to see a little bit of fall color, but miss the snow.  Well, as it turned out, we had some snow a few days earlier, but it all melted off at the lower elevations.  One reason I picked the Baker Gulch trail is because it goes up to Baker Pass that I had hiked up to last summer (see this link for a description of that hike, or look at my blog entry directly below this one).  Only, I came up from the other side of the continental divide.  The idea being that it’d be neat to reach the same place from the opposite direction.  Didn’t quite make it, but it was a great hike (and still a great idea : ).

(Just to break up my wall of text extended intro to the hike : )

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Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard, rather longish, comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in that gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (plus there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. You will need to use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.  Please note that some of the links for the hikes are located somewhere in the hike itself, while other links on the map are the trailhead for the hike located on a road.  The issue being, even if the link looks like it’s pointing to a road, that’s actually just the trailhead.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a portion of a topo map that shows the trail I took . Please note that all links open a new browser window.

(Again, just to break up my wall of text extended intro to the hike : )

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In addition to the Google map link above, please see a Microsoft Live map below. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from my home in Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail. Just make sure you don’t close the Microsoft “My Places” editor that pops up with map. If you close the editor (it is small and you can use/scroll/zoom the map without the editor getting too much in the way) without first saving the new location, the location button will disappear. If that happens, just close the map and click on it again on my web page.

Finally, on to the hike itself.

The trail starts off in a small parking lot that you reach soon after coming down off west end of Trailridge road in RMNP.  Took me a couple of hours to get there from Fort Collins.  But no problem.  I’d stopped and gotten my normal “lets go hiking” breakfast of an americano and cranberry scone, so I was raring to hit the trail. It was just a little cool and not much activity.  But, from what I could see in the distance, the hike going up the far valley was looking to be quite nice.

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The trail, or rather, the road (more on that) crosses the Colorado River as it heads to the west and the Never Summers.  The fishermen in the distance are encountering just a small bit of turgidity to the normally, at this time of year, crystal clear water.  This is due to a little runoff from a recent snow storm that hit the high country a day before.  Of course, the water is still crystal clear compared to how this river looks further downstream.  Say, around Moab, UT : )

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Baker Pass, Never Summer Wilderness,CO July 31, 2010

October 30, 2011

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There’s a place, an area, a gem of a trail I found last summer (summer of 2010; sorry I’m a little slow : ).  I kinda hate to write about it, because I just want to keep it for myself.  But, that’s selfish (which doesn’t bother me too much : ).  And, it’s an unnecessary worry because from what I can see the number of people going hiking continues to decline.  So, if you’re interested in a cool kind of out of the way, but not too far of a drive, hike, then check this out.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (and there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. You will need to use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a map that shows the trail I took . Please note that all links open a new browser window.

The Never Summer range of mountains is a section of country I haven’t spent much time in (but have done so since this particular hike).  The range of mountains forms a big chunk of Rocky Mountain National Park’s western boundary.  I’d looked at the Never Summer’s (such as when I come down off of Trailridge road) over the years, and even did some hiking on a little of it with Will.  But, I’d “never” been on it’s western slopes.  So, last summer figured it was about time.  Summer of 2010.

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In addition to the Google map link above, please see a Microsoft Live map below. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from my home in Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail. Just make sure you don’t close the Microsoft “My Places” editor that pops up with map. If you close the editor (it is small and you can use/scroll/zoom the map without the editor getting too much in the way) without first saving the new location, the location button will disappear. If that happens, just close the map and click on it again on my web page.

Map picture

If you head up over Cameron Pass, going west, you drop down into the Michigan river valley.  You soon enter the rather, um, dainty little town of Gould.  Yes, I’ve zoomed through it many a times headed for Walden and the Zirkels.  But this time, I turned off onto Forest Access road 740 in Gould, crossed the Michigan River, and headed up the road into the unknown.  And boy, was I in for a shock.  Because when you cross the river you enter the REAL town of Gould.  It can’t be seen from the highway.  But, there’s a town back in there.  As in lots of houses.  Lots of families.  Very interesting.  Very pretty.  Very secluded.

(photo below is from up the trail a ways, not of Gould)

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Anyway, I passed on through Gould going past the Pines campground and on up road 760 (dirt/gravel) until I came to the South Fork of the Michigan River trailhead.  Sorta.  As I found out, this is kinda a back country area and they don’t keep the roads up past a certain point.  So, about 3 miles from the trailhead, on a dirt road, I saw a sign that said something about parking for the trail.  But, hey, the road kept going.  So, I kept driving.  But, I drove VERY slowly in my small car.  Why?  Because I had to weave in and around mud holes that were large enough to swallow my car.  I swear I saw fenders partially sticking up out of some of the bigger ones.  Hope the drivers got out in time.  I would, much later, almost regret that little section of drive because while tricky to navigate with daylight, it was not something that you’d want to have to deal with in the dark.

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After about an mile and a half of slow driving I saw another sign that said 4WD only from that point on.  And the trailhead was another one point five miles ahead.  Sigh.  Okay, better safe than sorry.  I parked my car and began a walk up the 1.5 miles of 4WD road to the actual trailhead.  Very pleasant scenery to look at, so no big deal.  No one else was parked there, or earlier.  I saw no one on the road, and I saw no one on the trail.

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East Inlet Trail, RMNP, June 13, 2011

July 23, 2011

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Because of the heavy snow pack from the late spring and early summer storms, I decided to head back to RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park) on Sunday, June 13, 2011.  It had a fair amount of trails that were lower in elevation, but still in pretty areas whose trails would not be flooded.  In addition, I wanted to check out Trail Ridge Road, because I’d heard that it had some pretty interesting scenes due to all the snow.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (and there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. You will need to use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a map that shows the trail I took . Please note that all links open a new browser window.

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In addition to the Google map link above, please see a Microsoft Live map below. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from my home in Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail. Just make sure you don’t close the Microsoft “My Places” editor that pops up with map. If you close the editor (it is small and you can use/scroll/zoom the map without the editor getting too much in the way) without first saving the new location, the location button will disappear. If that happens, just close the map and click on it again on my web page.

Map picture

 

So, I got up Sunday morning, stopped by Starbucks on my way out of town, and by the time I hit timberline on Trailridge I had to agree with what I’d heard.  Yes, they had lots of snow.

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This trip saw me begin to use a slightly different technique of taking some of my photos.  I’d seen my children use the method of taking photos from a moving vehicle.  So, I did the same.  However, it was a little different in that I was the driver.  Ummm, I really don’t recommend doing this, but it did allow for some nice photos.  Of course, I should add that whenever I took the photo I looked behind me, make sure there was no traffic behind me, stopped the car, and then took the photo.  Yeah, sure.  That’s exactly how I did it.

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Lumpy Ridge Loop Trail, RMNP, May 28, 2011

June 27, 2011

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As per normal, I took my annual hike on the Lumpy Ridge Loop trail on a Sunday, May 29 of this year.  This is memorial day weekend which means I get the following day, Monday, to rest.  As this is an eleven mile hike, and near the beginning of my hiking season, it always seems prudent to allow for a day of rest prior to going back to work.  Just in case : )

Since I take the hike each year at the same time, its very evident from year to year about the differences in the local environment due to the current weather patterns.  So, some years at this time, as in 2009, there were wild flowers everywhere.  Including lots of columbines.  This year they were unable to open Trail Ridge road for the Memorial Day weekend due to all the snow.  And I saw very few flowers.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (and there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. You will need to use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a map that shows the trail I took . Please note that all links open a new browser window.

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In addition to the Google map link above, please see a Microsoft Live map below. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from my home in Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail. Just make sure you don’t close the Microsoft “My Places” editor that pops up with map. If you close the editor (it is small and you can use/scroll/zoom the map without the editor getting too much in the way) without first saving the new location, the location button will disappear. If that happens, just close the map and click on it again on my web page.

Map picture

 

When I woke up and looked out the window that Sunday morning, it was raining.  Not very hard.  But still…  Who wants to take off for a hike in RMNP when its cloudy, cool, and wet?  And, if it’s that way in the Fort, more than likely it’s that way in Estes Park.  I took a quick glance at some web cams in Estes.  Yep, cloudy and wet looking.  But, not actively raining.  Hmmmmm.  Went back to bed.

Sigh.  Couldn’t get to sleep and decided to go for it.  I’d packed the night before, so it didn’t take long to throw stuff into the car and head to RMNP (stopping at Starbucks on the way, of course : )  By the time I got to Estes Park and the Lumpy Ridge trail head (which is really the Gem Lake trailhead), the clouds had started to rise a little.  And, better yet, it wasn’t actively raining.

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As I headed up the trail, the clouds continued to rise until some of the peaks were able to peak through the clouds.

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Zoom

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Bear Lake and Glacier Gorge Loop Trail, RMNP, July 18, 2010

June 5, 2011

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(Note – Yes, it’s 2011, but I’m still posting about some hikes I did in 2010.  But, I’ve also started posting about hikes in 2011.  You’ll just have to scan down to see them.)

And it came to pass that one weekend I felt like doing “something different”.  Yeah.  Like, umm, not driving up Poudre Canyon again.  For a while.  And, no, I really didn’t want to drive up to Laramie, WY and points west.  Well, that really only left one area close by.  Yes, RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park).  So, I got up fairly early, since, well, it IS tourist season so parking is a little tricky in some areas, and headed to RMNP.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (and there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself.  A Google Earth map can be found here. You will need to use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a map that shows the loop I took (care of the National Park Service). Please note that all links open a new browser window.

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This was one of my “I don’t really know where I’m going to go hiking so I’ll just drive and eventually get there” kind of decision of which trail to end up at.  Which is what I did.

It was a very nice day and I got up into the park, and,

“….hmmmm, turn here and go right towards Trail Ridge?”

“No, guess I’ll turn left.  Yes, left feels good.”

“Lets see, should I stop here?  Nah, I’ll just keep driving till the road ends.”

“Oh look.  Imagine that.  The Bear Lake parking area.  Guess I’m supposed to park and hike here.”

And, since it was before 8 am, there was still some open parking (its actually quite a large parking area, but it does fill up quickly in summer time).  Of course, the Glacier Gorge parking area had already been full, or I would have parked there.  Oh well.  Fate.

(Note – RMNP has a great shuttle bus system.  So, if you get up too late to find a parking space, enquire about the available shuttle buses (some of which can be caught right at the visitor’s center) and let someone else do the driving.)

I wandered over to the trail head, still not sure where I was headed, and took a look at the map.

“Yesssss.  Well, nah, don’t feel like going up Flattop mountain, thank you very much.  Glacier Gorge?  Hmmm.  The Lock?  Hmmm.  Geee.  I’ve never been to a lot of those areas.”

And, it came to me that most of the hiking around Bear Lake I had never done.  Which, as I have been living in the area for approximately 237 years, you would have thought I’d hiked most of RMNP by now.  But then, as I looked around the trail head, I could understand why much of it I had still left to hike.  It was, to make a slight understatement, crowded.  Well, I’d just act like a tourist then.  And, since I’d never been to a lot of the areas, I’d do a loop.  And that’s what I did.  A very nice loop that let me get introduced to the area.  And, to my surprise, I liked it.  I plan on going back (although, maybe not in the middle of the summer : )

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In addition to the Google map link above, please see a Microsoft Live map below. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from my home in Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail. Just make sure you don’t close the Microsoft “My Places” editor that pops up with map. If you close the editor (it is small and you can use/scroll/zoom the map without the editor getting too much in the way) without first saving the new location, the location button will disappear. If that happens, just close the map and click on it again on my web page.

Map picture

 

If you go to this link, http://www.nps.gov/pwr/customcf/apps/maps/showmap.cfm?alphacode=romo&parkname=Rocky%20Mountain%20National%20Park you’ll find a very nice map of RMNP that you can zoom in on and scroll around.  And the loop I did was the following (and easy to see on the map);

Start at Bear Lake, head down the trail to the Glacier Gorge trailhead, take the trail from there to Alberta Falls.  After Alberta falls I acted like I was heading to the Lock.  But, after a while I hit an intersection and took the trail to Lake Haiyaha (but, I took the primitive trail option; more on that later).  Then I just kept on the trail to Dream lake, past Nymph lake, and ended back at Bear Lake.

How far was that?  Well, around 6 miles.  I think.  But, it gave me a great view of the country and all the other trails that I could come back and do some other time.  Like, in the Fall : )

Okay.  Enough of all that.  On to the hike.  The loop started off in the forest.  It was very green and quiet.  I remember lots of ferns.  Elves flitting through the leaves.  Okay, maybe not the elves (although, there might have been elves).  This section of trail heading towards Glacier Gorge trailhead sorta parallels the road, but there are only a few times that you can see the road through the trees and I don’t remember hearing any car noises.

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Moab with Conor and Will, Spring 2011, Day 4, Delicate Arch

May 30, 2011

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On day four of our trip to Moab, Utah I walked out of the motel room (early in the morning to go find an americano to drink : ) and into a much different, and better, weather situation than the cloudy/rainy day before.  This was good.  I figured we had a six to seven hour trip to get us back to Fort Collins at a decent hour.  If we used our time wisely, we could fit in one more hike prior to hitting the highway back to FC.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (and there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. You will need to use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual area itself, you can use this link to view a road and trail map (care of the official Arches Nat Park website) where you can see the Delicate Arch trail. Please note that all links open a new browser window.

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In addition to the Google map link above, please see a Microsoft Live map below. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from my home in Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail. Just make sure you don’t close the Microsoft "My Places" editor that pops up with map. If you close the editor (it is small and you can use/scroll/zoom the map without the editor getting too much in the way) without first saving the new location, the location button will disappear. If that happens, just close the map and click on it again on my web page.

 

Map picture

 

I got Conor and Will up in time to walk over to the Love Muffin cafe (where I had found my first cup of coffee for the day) for breakfast.  Great place.  Go there. 

Once done with breakfast we packed up and headed to the Arches National Park for what looked like a nice short hike.  Delicate Arch.  It was only a three mile (round trip) hike, so sounded perfect.

When we arrived I saw that this was NOT going to be a wilderness experience.  The very large parking area at the old Wolfe Ranch (trailhead for the hike to Delicate Arch) was already close to full and we could see lots of people on the trail.  I believe that this was approximately 10 am.  No matter, the day was pretty and the area was spectacular.

Conor checking out one of the old Wolfe Ranch "buildings".

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Will was going to set the pace for this hike.  It was a moderately fast pace : )

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When I said we could see people on the trail, I meant that literally.  As, the majority of the trail is all viewable from the beginning.  It heads straight up and over that rim of rock in the distance that the trail section below is pointed at.

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