Stormy jaunt to Devil’s Thumb

Headed up to Devil's Thumb Lake in the Indian Peaks yesterday. This is one of my very favorite areas in the region, as it's a beautiful lake up on the tundra that sits smack dab below a large rock outcropping called "Devil's Thumb." We had originally planned to hike up to the Continental Divide, traverse over to Rollins Pass, and head down the King Lake drainage, but thunderstorms and snow squalls – yes snow – prevented that from happening. Next time we'll bring a tent, camp at the lake, and do the Divide traverse in the morning when the weather is good.

Felt great on the hike. This Colorado Trail training seems to be going well. Our lightweight trekking poles from Black Diamond make a HUGE difference. This whole business of getting ready for a big walk is tough work, but we're up for the job! The only downer of the day was the expansion of the road down by Hessie so more people can park. I understand the need, but it's no fun watching live aspens get ripped out of the ground by huge machinery. Humans: we have the ability to destroy in seconds what took nature decades to build.

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Heading up the trail between Jasper Lake and Devils Thumb Lake. Storm clouds overhead, and even a spiff of snow on this June 6th.

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The girls at Devil's Thumb Lake. The rock outcropping is the Devil's Thumb itself.

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Funny photo here with humans and dogs going every which way!

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Elaine informed me this is her favorite wildflower. It's a nice one…we'll have to learn what it is one of these days.

The best ski line in Boulder County…

…is unskiable

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Introducing Arapaho Glacier. Arapaho Glacier is one of the southernmost glaciers in North America, and sits square at the head of the Silver Lake drainage basin. It's part of something called the Boulder Watershed, which is, as the name might imply, a provider of water to the city of Boulder. It is strictly off-limits to anybody…well, at least the general public.

The area is patrolled by volunteers all summer long. It also hosts a few families – caretakers if you will. They work in the area, but they also are allowed to fish and hunt the land…sort of a private resort on public land if you will.

I don't have any problem with land off-limts to humans…I think it's necessary, as we have a massive impact on everything we touch. That said, this is undoubtably the best summer ski line in Boulder. It's long, the pitch is consistent, and it's clearly gorgeous. What can I say – it would be a nice ski…a really nice ski.

The Watershed is an interesting concept. I'm all for clean water, but Boulder gets its water from many, many drainages, the majority of which allow humans. If the city were getting all its water from one pristine source, that would be one thing, but it's not. It all mixes together – "pristine" and not-so-pristine. And it's not like the city is drinking the water straight from the glacier. It's all treated first with chlorine and other chemicals.

It's a strange law that dates back to the 1940's when times were different and water treatment much less refined. It's one of those things that just is, and it's rarely questioned. I honestly don't think a handful or even a bunch of summer skiers would effect Boulder's water quality in any way, but alas a rule is a rule and breaking this one will land you a $500 fine if caught. That's an expensive ski run.

Who knows? Perhaps the closure of the watershed – which also is home to some of the most beautiful peaks in the county – will end in my lifetime. I've heard of old archaic mining laws from the 1800's coming off the books because they don't make any sense anymore…perhaps the same will be true for the Boulder Watershe and Arapaho Glacier.

If that happens, you can be sure Elaine and I will be some of the first to drop in.

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Elaine on the top of the forbidden run – Arapaho Glacier.

Up South Arapaho

South Arapahoe Peak is an iconic mountain in these parts. It's arguably the most easy to access major peak near Nederland, and offers a little bit of everything. The trail up is technically benign but stellar on views, while the final push offers a fun scramble to the 13,397 foot tall summit. It's one of my favorite "standard" outdoor activities in the area and it was our first summit of the summer.

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Elaine heading up the final part of the trail to the summit pyramid.

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Our family on the top of the mountain.

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This compass on top shows where the big peaks in the region are.

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Elaine likes mountains.

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Heading back down. The Arapaho Pass trail cuts up the saddle in the middle. This is an extemely popular hike. We really do live in a mecca for hiking and backpacking.

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Wildflower season is starting a little early this year. These are my first "Forget-Me-Nots" of the year. They're tiny flowers – no bigger than the size of half a pinky fingernail – that hug the tundra. They're vibrancy and ability to live up here makes them my favorite flower.

One last ride…

…on the trails before the loggers move in. I know it'll be rebuilt, but there was something about these forests that was peaceful.

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Kind of sad out there. The fox family in the gully off Habit Two is about to have their world rocked. Tons of squirrels and birds and such out and about, chirping away, just living life. Kind of a lousy deal for them. I'm sure they'll adapt and go elsewhere. There are some dead trees out there, but there are a lot of live, perfectly healthy trees too. Lots of 'em will get hacked.

I hope the Forest Service has good motivations for this project.

Elaine’s First 1×1 Ride

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Girl simply killed it. HUGE jump in technical riding ability. All of the sudden, instead of worrying about what fingers to push to shift gears, all she has to do is ride.

Johnny Rotten lives, and I'm beyond stoked about who the new owner is.  A twelve year old bike that still screams adventure. Her smile says it all.P1080180

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