Saturday, July 3, 2010

Colorado Vacation – Part V

For Part IV go here.

Thursday was our last full day in Colorado. As usual, I couldn't believe how fast it had come. :(

We started our day with French toast (Southerners might know it as Freedom toast)- it was tasty. Next, while Courtney was packing for our hike, I began to slowly start organizing stuff in preparation for our departure early the next day. For me this is the worst part of any trip (far worse than leaving)- the first realization that the fun is almost over. It reminds me of the last week of summer vacation before school started.

Anyways, once we were all packed up we jumped in the truck and headed for The Crags trailhead. The Crags trail is a 4.0 mile trail with an elevation gain of 720 ft. That is not much of an elevation gain, but unfortunately it felt like most of it was at the end. The Crags is interesting for a couple of reason, the main reason being that somehow millions of years ago, many many square miles of younger sediment was covered with 60 million year old granite. Nobody knows how it happened but it did. It is not like the granite just squirted on top of the younger rock, it was already rock hard sediment.

Pretty close to the beginning you have an important decision to make:

If you choose the wrong trail you begin ascending Pikes Peak! Although I would really love to do that, it wasn't in today's playbook. Fortunately for us we chose the right trail. The first part of the hike takes you through a valley which has almost no elevation change, but it is very beautiful.

During this part of  hike you move through forests of Aspen and Pine, large meadows, and a lot of crystal clear water for Monkey to play in!

Once you pass through the valley you begin your ascent to the top of this amazing outlook where you get an absolutely spectacular 360 degree view (which includes Pikes Peak and some amazing granite formations). The trail is pretty hard to follow at this point so you just keep trudging uphill.

Panorama (click to enlarge!)

In the picture below you can see some bristlecone pines behind us. Bristlecone pines are amazing little buggers because they are the oldest single living organisms known on the planet. They live as long as 5,000 years! It is hard to know how old these particular trees were, but it is safe to say that some of them were there before Columbus set foot on the Americas.

A few miles away you can see the Catamount Reservoirs that we saw up close the day before.

As we headed back Courtney and I were both kind of sad that our trip was quickly coming to an end. I think Monkey even knew something was up. :(

The Crags trail was easily one of my favorite parts of our trip to Colorado. I would say that this trail and the Waldo Canyon loop are absolute musts for anyone visiting the area. The rest of The Crags pics are here.

For dinner that night we went to Savelli's Pizza in Manitou Springs. They had great pizza and mediocre service- would definitely go back though. The rest of the night was spent packing and enjoying our last camp fire.

There was a bit of excitement later that night when Monkey and I walked up on 3 mule deer that were about 20 feet from our camp site. Monkey went ape-shit and chased them into the forest, probably waking up half of the campers in the process (oops- sorry).

We woke up the next morning, finished packing, and got on our way. Fun fact for ya, you get amazing gas mileage when you leave the mountains.

Well that is it, thanks for reading! If you haven't looked at all of the galleries I would at least encourage you to check out our best of gallery.