Alan and Jonna's 2006 hikes

Jonna and Alan have plans to spend a couple of weeks in Tibet in 2006 doing a circumambulation around Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar. Since the three day clockwise route around the sacred 22,000 ft high peak means traversing passes of around 18,000 ft in altitude, we have been trying to get out hiking in the Colorado Rockies every weekend in an effort to train for some high altitude hiking. While we haven't done any fourteeners yet, we have been out nearly every weekend hiking above 10,000 ft.

Here are some quick reviews and photos of some of our favorite hikes from the summer of 2006:

1) Pinewood Springs, CO - March 5, 2006 - For our first hike of the year, we headed up to our buddy Todd Unprounceable's house to join our friend Hubert in exploring a nearby creek drainage. We followed the frozen creek for about two miles before hitting a "No Trespassing" sign. We only had about 800 ft of elevation difference from high point to low point but did a lot of bouldering during the 4 mile hike so the actual workout was a good one. On a future hike, we hope to follow this creek all the way from Pinewood Springs to Lyons.

2) Flagstaff Mountain; Boulder, CO - April 9, 2006 - For our second hike we tried to gain a little more altitude by climbing the 1,177 ft, to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder. Its two miles up a relatively deserted trail, then 2.5 miles down the beautiful but crowded Gregory Canyon trail. This would be a nice little hike in the spring when the flowers are out but was a little drab looking this soon after winter.

3) Mt. Sanitas; Boulder, CO - April 15, 2006 - Next up in our Flemings In Training (FIT) hiking series was a 4 mile loop up Mt. Sanitas from Boulder's Eben G. Fine Park. For hiking companions we had our friends Lee, Michelle, Lyle and my Aunt Gail. We went over the Red Rocks ridge at Settler's Park, then along Dakota Ridge and up the steep north face of Mt. Sanitas, then down the gentler south side. The total elevation gain was around 1,300 ft and climbing so much of it at once was good training for the bigger peaks we have planned for later this summer.

4) Green Mountain; Boulder, CO - April 29, 2006 - Our trend of doing gradually bigger hikes continued with a hike to the top of Green Mountain. This is probably my favorite of the front range hikes, going up Saddle Rock trail to the top and then coming back down Gregory Canyon. Both the view down onto Boulder and the view of the Continental Divide are gorgeous, as are the trails themselves. Its a 6 mile hike with about 2,500 ft of elevation gain. We hiked it on a cool, overcast day but then laid around on top soaking up the sunshine like reptiles. Another great training hike.

5) Bear Mountain; Boulder, CO - May 6, 2006 - This is a hike that almost didn't happen. Jonna was out of town and I had been up till 3am the night before. Still, I staggered down to the meeting point to find that Karen and Desiree had both showed up to keep me honest. We started at NCAR, took the Mesa Trail to Fern Canyon. From there, Karen and I then went up to the peak. After a break, we took the southern way down through Shadow Canyon and back to the Mesa Trail. In the 5 and 1/2 hour long hike, we did just a little over 7.7 miles of hiking and gained 3181 feet of elevation. Another good training hike.

6) Twin Sisters; Estes Park, CO - May 13, 2006 - Our longtime friend Steve, FIT regular Lyle, Jonna and myself did the 7.4 mile long Twin Sisters hike. There was a lot of snow up near treeline but we sliped and slid our way over it. The trail was clear up above the trees, just a chilly wind to affect the climb up to the top of the northern Sister. Steve and I went up to the top of the southern Sister before we all headed back down. We did something like 2,200 ft of elevation for exercise and shared a lot of great stories for entertainment.

7) Heart Lake; Rollinsville, CO - May 21, 2006 - This was our best training hike so far this year. The trail is normally 9 miles long but there was a ton of snow so we did a lot of off-trail hiking, probably making the total more like 10 miles. The climb of 2,200 ft isn't huge but when you're sinking knee deep in snow it means your legs are working twice as hard as usual. My motorcycle buddy Todd Unprounceable and the ever-faithful hiker Lyle joined us for this one. We also took this opportunity to drop off our geocache, so it turned out to be a two-for-one hike.

8) Venable Lakes; Westcliffe, CO - May 28, 2006 - For the Memorial Day holiday weekend Jonna and I combined some travel with our training hikes. We rode the motorcycle down to Westcliffe, CO and spent Sunday hiking in the incredible Sangre de Cristo mountains. We did The Venable Lakes trail which turned out to be our longest, steepest and highest hike yet. 11 miles long, 2800 ft of elevation gain and an ending altitude of 12,000 ft. The hike winds for nearly three miles through a beautiful aspen grove, then climbs up into a big bowl with three snow fed lakes. We originally intended to hike up to the pass on the Continental Divide but strong winds turned us back at the lakes. A wonderful hike!

9) Mt. Thorodin; Coal Creek, CO - June 1, 2006 - Lyle the Uber-hiker has been climbing Mt. Thorodin after work so Jonna and I decided to join him for a Thursday evening hike. We bush-wacked a 1.5 mile route up the southern side of the mountain for about 1,000 ft to the top of the western peak. We watched the sun set while enjoying a little picnic, then headed back down before it got too dark to hike. A nice little mid-week work out.

10) Mt. Audubon; Indian Peaks Wilderness, CO - June 10, 2006 - Our first big mountain hike of the summer was to prep us for the 14ers that we will be doing in July. Karen and Desiree joined us for the 9 mile round trip hike from Brainard Lake up to the top of Mt. Audubon. We ended up climbing about 2900 ft from the lake up to the 13,223 ft summit. The hike was nice, cool but mostly clear of snow. It was windy at the top but otherwise perfect weather for a beautiful hike.

11) Mt. Bierstadt; Georgetown, CO - July 1, 2006 - Our first fourteener. It was a hard climb, just 2800 ft of elevation in a 6.5 mile round trip hike. We dodged hail and rain on the way up but caught a little ray of sun at the summit. Unfortunately, a thunder storm was rolling in fast, so we had to sprint down off the top with our hair standing on end from static electricity. We probably should have a little started earlier to miss the afternoon storm. Still the wild flowers were in full bloom and we had great company with the super dedicated Karen and Lyle.

12) Grays Peak and Torreys Peak; Bakerville, CO - July 9, 2006 - Jonna was sick and had to skip doing the dual 14er hike (Instead, she drove to the top of Mt. Evans). We hiked our way through rain, fog and drizzle to the top of Grays Peak (14,270). After a quick snack, we went down the saddle and made the climb to the top of Torreys Peak (14,267) amidst a snow storm. We then hiked back down off the mountain in a cold, steady rain. The total hike was around nine miles with both peaks totalling 3,600 ft of elevation gain over the hike.

If you enjoyed these you may also enjoy checking out some photos from our 2005 hikes or our 2007 hikes.

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Alan Fleming