Tuesday, October 23, 2012

HIking Roxborough State Park

This past Sunday offered yet another wonderful weekend day to get out and take a hike.  The weather was absolutely fantastic with lots of sun and warm temperatures.  Instead of heading to an open space, we decided it was time to visit one of Colorado's beautiful state parks.  Our destination was Roxborough State Park where the plains meet the mountains and home to some amazing red rock formations.

The Colorado State Park website describes the park's striking red rock formations in this way. "The most striking feature for visitors to Roxborough is the dramatic Fountain Formation.  This spectacular tilted sandstone began over 300 million years ago with the gradual erosion of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains.  Today these red sandstones stand beautifully at Roxborugh at a sixty degree angle and are the result of millions of years of uplift and erosion."  For more information on the park, see their website at: http://www.parks.state.co.us/parks/roxborough/Pages/RoxboroughStatePark.aspx

This formation of red rock is seen throughout the front range from the Famous Red Rock Amphitheater to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  There are numerous other places that it pops up as it seems to underlie much of the area of transition from the plains to the mountains.

For another weekend we took it easy in terms of getting up.  Zack of course was awake at 7:00AM but I didn't manage to roll out of bed until 9:00AM.  I use the weekends to catch up on the sleep that I lose because of my weird work hours so I tend not to get up too early these on weekend mornings.  We were in the car and headed towards Roxborough by 10:00AM.  The drive is only about 15 miles so we were in the parking lot by 10:30AM.   Once we passed the entrance booth to the park we spied a large herd of elk grazing on the prairie that marks the transition from the plains to the mountains.  (A side note concerning this - 3 weeks ago there was a very large bull elk poached in the Plum Creek drainage about 2 miles to the southeast of the spot we saw the herd.  It's highly likely that the bull was part of that herd.  It is so sickening that people poach elk in the way this animal was killed.  First off - it isn't elk season.  Elk hunting doesn't start until November. Secondly, this animal was killed strictly for it's head and rack as the rest of it was left to rot.  Hunting serves a vital purpose since we don't have large numbers of predators in Colorado.  But to kill an animal out of season and only take it's head is purely despicable.)

Striking out on the trails I decided that we were going to hike up the flank of the highest point in the park - Carpenter Peak.  This peak is part of the hogback that forms the first ridge of the Rockies.  Though it is considered a "peak" it really isn't that tall by Colorado standards as it is only 7160 feet above sea level.  I know this sounds gigantic by east coast and mid-west standards, but when the average elevation in Colorado is over 5000 a peak of 7160 feet isn't that particularly tall.

There are several large "loop" hikes throughout the park.  The first part of our hike started on one of those loops as we took the eastern edge of the South Rim Loop Trail.  We hiked about 1/2 of a mile before we hit the Willow Creek trail that we used to cross through the center of the park to the western edge of the South Rim Trail.  From there we started the steep uphill climb on the Elk Valley Trail that would eventually connect into the Carpenter Peak Trail.  Given the state of my back's recovery, I did not plan to hike the whole way to the top of Carpenter Peak as that would have involved a hike of over 6 miles.  My endurance and strength need to recovery a little more before I start pushing myself beyond 5 mile hikes.

The hike up the flanks for Carpenter peak wasn't too bad except for the fact that it was so hot.  Temperatures running near 80 degrees are just not normal or expected in mid-October!  Thankfully we were dressed for the weather - wearing only shorts and T-shirts.  We hiked about 1.5 miles up the side of the mountain before I decided that my thighs and calves had had enough.  Though we didn't go the whole way to the top we got some fantastic views as we hiked upward.

The park was packed with people on this beautiful day.  There was still some color left in the leaves and given the fact the Broncos weren't playing, everyone and their brother seemed to be out and about.  It was so packed that when we went back to our car there wasn't one parking space left in the lot.

(This kind of terrain is typical of the transition between the plains and the mountains.)

(My intrepid hiking buddy Zack taking a break to cool off and rehydrate.)

(Red rock formations that make the park so notable.)

(Looking out on to the plains from up on the flank of Carpenter Peak.)

(More red rock formations)

 (Zack hiking through the scrub oak.)

As we left the park we saw the elk lying in the grass taking it easy in the heat of the day.  I will definitely be going back to the park once the snow flies as I would like to see the elk in the snow as that is always a wonderful sight!

The rest of the weekend was relatively uneventful except for Friday night.  On Friday night Lisa and I went out to a nice restaurant in Greenwood Village called Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse.  I've heard lots of comments about the place but in my 17 years of living in Colorado I have never been there.  Everything was great!  We had a good time and enjoyed some really good food.

This week is the last week of school for Zack before Fall Break.  This coming Saturday - October 26th he will be traveling with a group of 51 other 8th graders to Washington DC.  This is the first time he has traveled so far from home without me.  He is really looking forward to the trip and I am looking forward to him demonstrating the maturity that he needs on a trip like this.  All-in-all I think it will be a very good experience for him.  The trip lasts 4 days and 3 nights and he will arrive back home on Tuesday evening.  This will be the longest that he has been away from home.  I don't know that I have ever had the house to myself for this long of a period...  not sure what I am going to do with myself.  Ah...  actually not, I am quite sure I will figure out what to do!

That's about it for today.  I hope everyone's week is off to a good start!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

1 comment:

Carletta said...

That's some wonderful hiking territory!
I like the shot of Zack walking through the scrub oak.
I so agree about the killing of the elk. My brother is an avid hunter and waits patiently for season and if he doesn't want the meat he gives it away. There is always somebody out there making it look bad.
Hope Zach has a good time in DC. I was in the eighth grade when our class went. We rode a bus to our capital city and then all night on a train. Toured the city and rode the train back that night. Had a wonderful time.
Thanks for visiting my blog! :)