Alan and Jonna's 2014 hikes

2014 was another great year with plenty of new trails hiked, new places explored and new mountains climbed. We have high hopes for another great year in 2014.

Here are some quick reviews and photos of some of our favorite hikes of 2014:

1) Plumas National Forest, Graeagle, CA, December 31, 2013 - As has become a New Years Eve tradition, the first hiking trip of the new year was a beautiful loop through the redwoods of the Sierra Nevada mountains! Okay, so technically it was the last hike of 2013 but the *trip* crossed over into 2014 so we're calling this a 2014 hike. Regardless of the date Jamie, Jonna and Alan had a warm, sunny hike through the forest just outside Graeagle, CA. The loop was around 3 1/2 miles long with a climb over a ridge with about 500 ft of elevation gain.

2) Anchor Mine, Caribou, CO, January 5, 2014 - Our hiking group's first outing of the year was a cold one. Lyle, Jonna and Alan braved a windy, 4 degree morning in order to snowshoe in the fresh powder that a weekend storm had dropped in the mountains. The freezing temperatures numbed our toes and turned us back before we could reach the mine but we enjoyed a nice, if short, hike nonetheless. 2 1/2 miles out and back with a climb of 400 ft.

3) Burro Trail, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Golden, CO, January 12, 2014 - Lyle, Jonna and Alan tried to find a hike in the calm of a forest but we just couldn't avoid the crazy, howling wind. We did a nice loop in Golden Gate Canyon State Park where we tried to soak up whatever warmth we could when the sun was shining and when the wind was briefly shielded by trees. We enjoyed the views down onto the Ralston Creek valley but were also amazed by the damage caused along Nott Creek during last Fall's floods. A smidge under 4 miles with around 800 ft of elevation gain.

3) Sandbeach Lake Trail, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Allenspark, CO, January 19, 2014 - It was just Jonna and Alan for this weekend's hike to check out a previously unexplored trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. We started out with cloudy skies but a blustery wind blew those out and we ended up under a clear blue sky. We hiked up the Sandbeach Lake trail but gradually deepening snow turned us back at around the halfway mark (since we'd left our snowshoes in the car back at the trailhead). Just under 4.5 miles with a tad over 1,000 ft of elevation gain.

3) Ypsilon Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO, January 26, 2014 - It was just Lyle and Alan for this weekend's hike so we headed up into the back country of the park. It was great hiking weather except that it was once again blowing a gale. (If this keeps up we'll have to stop hiking and take up kite flying instead). We made it 2/3 of the way to the lake before post-holing through knee deep snow caused us to throw in the towel and retire. It was a scenic hike mainly through heavy pine forest. This resulted in a highlight of the day being a rare musical accompaniment to the hike: the noise of the constant roaring of the wind overhead mixed with the periodic, frantic squeaks caused by trees rubbing against their fallen neighbors. The resulting chaotic cacophony sounded like a 1st grade classroom filled with first time violin students. 6 miles out and back with a climb of 1,600 ft.

4) Bierstadt Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO, February 2, 2014 - Hey, the third times a charm! Lyle, Jonna and Alan returned to the park and this time it was perfect. No wind, a bright sun, crystal clear skies and two feet of fresh snow. We found a a short hike (Alan was on-call, so we had to make it quick) that was untouched so we got to break trail through pristine champagne powder. It was a beautiful climb up to a frozen lake with gorgeous views of the snow-covered mountains and, thanks to a rumored televised sporting event, we didn't see another soul the entire hike. A little over three miles up and back with a touch under 1,000 feet of elevation.

5) Heart Lake Trail, East Portal trailhead, Toland, CO, February 9, 2014 - With three days of constant show blanketing the mountains with fresh powder, it was finally time to blow the dust off the cross-country skis. With snow still dumping down from the grey clouds overheads we headed up to the train tunnel at East Portal and slithered our way up the Heart Lake trail. Once the climb got too steep for our non-skinned skis we turned back and skied our way through the stunning winter wonderland. Just under 4 miles up and back with a little over 600 feet of elevation.

6) Mt. Sanitas, Boulder, CO, February 15, 2014 - It was just Lyle and Alan for this weekend's early Spring hike. With the weather cold and overcast, we decided to head down out of the high country for our annual springtime tradition of hiking the five peaks around Boulder. The easiest is always the first: Mt Sanitas. We parked at Settler's Park, did the climb over Red Rocks ridge, up Dakota Ridge and then to the top of the peak. It was muddy in places, icy in places, we had a few snow flurries and were up in the clouds at the top but still enjoyed being out on the trails and getting in some elevation training. 4.5 miles with 1,500 ft of elevation gain.

7) Chabot Park/Redwood Peak, Oakland, CA, February 22, 2014 - This weekend's hike mixed together two of our favorite elements: time spent with family and a walk through the mighty redwoods of California. While in the Bay Area celebrating Jonna's birthday Jamie, Brianna and Rosie took Jonna and Alan out for an evening hike in the redwoods near their house. We stiched together a series of different trails: Madrone, Star Flower, French, Redwood Peak and Roberts Ridge to do a fantastic hike through the redwood forest behind the Chabot Space & Science Center. A loop that was around 3 miles in lenth with approximately 1,500 ft of elevation gain.

8) Flagstaff Mountain, Boulder, CO, March 2, 2014 - It was just Lyle and Alan out hiking this weekend but, Wow!, what a hike. After a heavy, wet snow fell on Saturday night, temperatures dropped down well below freezing. Sunday was overcast in the morning but the snow coating the mountains and forest was spectacular. We climbed up the north side of Flagstaff Mtn and then hiked around on top. The clouds started to break up as headed back allowing the sun to shine down and make the landscape glisten. 7 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation.

9) Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO, March 9, 2014 - With Alan on-call again at work we had to make it a short hike this weekend. If you want big views for a little hike, you can't beat heading into the National Park so we drove up to the Bear Lake trailhead in the park and joined the throngs on the trail to Emerald Lake. We'd planned to snowshoe but the trail was packed down enough we could just hike. The scenery was, as expected, spectacular and we even managed to find a side trail that was relatively empty. A little under two and a half miles long with 500 feet of elevation gain.

10) Green Mountain, City Of Boulder Open Space And Mountain Parks, Boulder, CO, March 16, 2014 - It was St Patrick's Day weekend so it must be time for the annual hikin' o' the Green. Lyle and Alan headed down to Boulder to enjoy a perfect hiking day and to enjoy some fantastic views from the top of the mountain. The trail we'd planned to hike was closed after last Fall's floods so we had to take the longer trail up. The recent cycle of snow-melt-snow-melt turned most of the trails into wet, glass smooth ice but we put on our YakTrax and climbed our way to the top. The trails were empty on the way up and busy on the way back down. 6.5 miles with a climb of 2,500 feet.

10) Wideawake townsite hike, Pickle Gulch trailhead, Blackhawk, CO, March 23, 2014 - With a few more inches of fresh snow on the ground Lyle, Jonna and Alan headed back into the mountains to enjoy the powder. It was a beautiful, warm day for a hike but unfortunately that turned the snow into a wet, sticky, slushy mess...and that turned the snowshoes into heavy blocks of ice. Nonetheless, we made the climb up to the ghost town of Wideaway where we could enjoy the views down Missouri Gulch. From there, we made another attempt to climb Blackhawk Peak but for the second time we were turned back. The first time, back in December, because of deep snow. This time, it was because Alan ran out of steam halfway up. We reluctantly turned back to slip and slide our way back down to the car. A short 3 miles out and back with a climb of 1,000 ft.

11) S Boulder Peak & Bear Peak, Mesa trailhead, Eldorado Springs, CO, March 29, 2014 - Lyle and Alan finished off the spring training hikes this weekend by climbing both S Boulder Peak and Bear Peak via Shadow Canyon. That canyon should be renamed Disaster Canyon now: the bottom quarter of the canyon was washed out from last year's floods and the top quarter was burned out from 2012 wild fires. Still, it was a fine day for a hike, sunny and cool, and the recent string of warm days had melted out much of the front range snow so the trails were mostly dry. Well, S Boulder Peak was an exception with the final ascent covered in loose, wet ice but the views were well worth it. Bear Peak, with the best view on the front range, was even better. A long, tiring hike but still one of the best in the area. 9 miles with 3,500 ft of elevation.

12) Lost Lake, Hessie trailhead, Eldora, CO, April 6, 2014 - After a week of fresh Spring powder Lyle, Jonna and Alan couldn't resist heading back up into the high country to enjoy all the snow (yet another last chance for us to break out the snowshoes for the season). We parked in Eldora, walked up the road to the Hessie trailhead, and then made the climb up to Lost Lake. We were on the edge of a a cloud system so one minute there would be bright blue sky and then a few minutes later it would be overcast with snow flurries: back and forth, back and forth went the weather for the whole hike. ...and what a beautiful hike it was with loads of fresh snow, fresh buds on the trees and majestic mountains all around. 5.3 miles up and back down with a climb of 1,000 ft to the lake.

13) Round Mountain, Pinewood Springs, CO, April 12, 2014 - Lyle and Alan headed to our friend Todd's place to hike one of the mountains in his 'hood. Specifically, Round Mountain which overlooks the Little Thompson River valley. We hiked down to the river to see the damage from last year's flood, then made the long climb up to the peak. What a gorgeous hike! It was scenic from bottom to top, whether we were enjoying a hike along the river, looking down onto the Little Thompson valley or looking across the nearby peaks at the snow-covered Rockies. It was overcast with a snow storm rolling in so the photos weren't great but the cool air and great views made it a terrific hike. 8.2 miles with 2,000 ft of elevation gain.

14) Betasso Preserve, Boulder County Open Space, Boulder, CO, April 20, 2014 - It is mud season in the mountains as winter snows melt, spring rain storms roll through and summer streams start to flow. Jonna and Alan headed down to Boulder to squish and slip our way around Betasso Preserve. We managed to hike both the traditional loop trail and the newer Benjamin Loop before the afternoon's dark clouds started to dispense rain. 7.2 miles long with 700 ft of elevation gain.

15) Blackhawk Peak, Pickle Gulch trailhead, Blackhawk, CO, May 4, 2014 - Alan was again on-call so our hiking group had to keep it short. Twice now we've tried to hike Blackhawk Peak and twice we've been turned back by snow. With temperatures up in the 60s we decided to give it another shot. After dodging Jeepers stuck in the snow and an impromptu live-fire shooting range, we turned off the 4WD road and found...snow. Well, we're a stubborn group so we decided to slosh, slip and post-hole our way to the top anyway. It was a little breezy at the top which made wet feet chilly but the views westward onto the Divide were worth it. 3.5 miles with a snowy climb of 1,000 ft to the top.

16) Caribou townsite, Nederland, CO, May 11, 2014 - With a surprise last spring snowstorm in full effect Lyle, Jonna and Alan headed out to play in the fresh powder. We headed up to the old Caribou ghosttown townsite and did one of our favorite loops around Caribou Peak. The snow varied from ankle deep to knee deep which gave the impression of wading through shaving cream. The short 2.5 mile long loop with just 500 ft of elevation seemed like much more when slogging through wet snow.

17) Ralston Roost, Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Golden, CO, May 18, 2014 - What a contrast! Last weekend we were knee deep in snow and just one week later Lyle, Jonna and Alan are out enjoying warm sunny weather, blue skies, lush green hillsides and the first buds of spring. Alan was again on-call at work meaning we had to make it another quick hike so we headed into Golden Gate Canyon State Park to do one of our favorites: the climb up to Ralston Roost. We went up Black Bear trail, enjoyed the view of the snow-covered mountains to the west and then returned via Horseshoe trail. 4.5 miles with 1,300 ft of elevation gain.

18) South St. Vrain trail #909, Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Ward, CO, May 24, 2014 - For the first time this year, Holly and her pups were able to rejoin our hiking group. Despite being overcast we dodged the rain and enjoyed a great hike on a nearly empty trail. It was a typical spring hike: a little muddy, the trail was flooded in places, South St. Vrain creek was rushing with snow melt and there were still patches of snow at the higher parts of the trail...but the aspens were just starting to show fresh buds, little crocus flowers were blooming and fresh green grass was poking up through the wet ground. Just under 6 miles out and back with 1,000 ft of elevation up to our turn around point.

19) Walker Ranch, Boulder County Open Space Park, Boulder, CO, June 1, 2014 - Desiree and Gaelin joined our group (and a bunch of other people) for a hike around the Walker Ranch loop. It was a perfect day for a hike with a deep blue sky, a bright sun shining down, the first wild flowers of the year and Boulder creek boiling with spring run-off. A 7.8 mile loop with 1,400 ft of elevation gain.

20) Sandbeach Lake Trail, Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park, Allenspark, CO, June 8, 2014 - Back in January Jonna and Alan tried to hike up to Sand Beach Lake but we got turned back by deep snow. This weekend Lyle joined us as we tried again and this time we were successful. What a beautiful back country hike! We hiked up ridges, through creeks and over deep snow drifts all while having the weather change from warm & sunny to dark, cold and rainy...and then back and then back again. Despite all the challenges we had a great hike to a pristine mountain lake surrounded by snow covered mountains. 8 and a half miles up and back with 2,000 ft of elevation gain.

21) Miller Rock, Ceran St. Vrain Trail, Jamestown, CO, June 15, 2014 - Lyle, Jonna and Alan headed to the newly re-opened Ceran St. Vrain to check out the post-flood repairs. We had a lovely summer day for a hike: warm, sunny, a deep blue sky and fluffy white clouds. St. Vrain creek was raging and the early wild flowers were starting to pop. 6 miles in length with 800 ft of elevation.

22) Tsikalariou Castle, Naxos, Greece, June 24, 2014 - What an amazing hike and even better because we got to share it with our niece Brianna. A taxi dropped us off, along with our Greek guide Anna, outside a village on the island of Naxos. First, we hiked to a marble quarry with a pair of 2,500 year old un-finished kouros statues. From there we hiked through beautiful mountain villages and then up a peak to the ruins of a 13th century Venetian castle. Finally, down to the village of Chalki for lunch and a tour of a little local Kitron distillery. Stunning day! 7.1 miles with 1,100 ft of elevation gain.

23) Church of the High Cross, Oia, Santorini (Thira), Greece, June 26, 2014 - What an incredible hike we had today going from the town of Thira to the town of Oia along the top of the caldera. We had continuous, stunning views out across the Aegean Sea and watched the sunset just as the hike ended. All because of our terrific guide Annio! It was 7 miles from Thira to Oia with three separate climbs which added up to 900 feet of elevation.

24) Samaria Gorge, Samaria National Park, Crete, Greece, July 1, 2014 - Some hikes give you a new perspective on things and this was one of those hikes. Brianna, Jonna and Alan started way up in the mountains in the tiny Cretan village of Omalos. Then it was down, down into Samaria Gorge. At some points the gorge walls are less than 30 ft wide but tower 1,000 ft overhead. We were just little ants in a giant's world. Finally, the hike ended on a black sand beach leading to impossibly blue water at Agia Roumeli. A long, rocky hike but gorgeous! It was 10 miles from the top to the bottom but all downhill with a total elevation loss of 3,280 feet.

25) Anchor Mine, Caribou townsite, Nederland, CO, July 13, 2014 - For our first hike back in Colorado after our vacation to Greece Jonna and Alan were joined by Lyle, Desiree and Gaelin for a perfect summer hike. We parked at the ghosttown site of Caribou and then hiked into the old Anchor mine site (this is private property but hikers are allowed in!) With all the late spring snow and the recent rain the hillsides were covered in healthy grass and vibrant wildflowers. Streams were burbling, birds were singing, fluffy clouds were floating overhead and the sun was shining. The fact that we got to explore the buildings of a 100 year old mining site was just the cherry on top!

26) Champion Mine, West Magnolia trailhead, Nederland, CO, July 20, 2014 - We had a big group for this weekend's hike as our regular hiking group was joined by our friends Desiree, Gaelin, Alexander and Angela. We decided to stick with the mine theme by doing a hike we've enjoyed in the past. Starting at the West Magnolia trailhead, going through the closed YMCA camp Ora-Penn and then a quiet trail going over a ridge and along a creek. From there it is a climb up to the Lone Star mine site and then a short walk to the highlight of the hike: the Champion Mine site. From there it is downhill on a forest service road and then back into the West Magnolia trails. It was sunny and warm in the mountains which had the wildflowers popping! 5.5 miles in length with 800 ft of elevation change.

27) Estes Cone, Rocky Mountain National Park, Long's Peak trailhead, Estes Park, CO, July 27, 2014 - Another big group hike this weekend as our friends Sandy and Gary were visiting from Wisconsin. They joined Jonna, Alan, Lyle, Holly and Holly's boyfriend Rick for a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. We decide to avoid the masses in the main part of the park and went to the Long's Peak trailhead instead. From there we did the hike to Eugenia Mine, then on up Storm Pass and finally up Estes Cone. A cloud had the same idea and we got to the summit just in time to see the inside of a big, white cloud instead of the magnificent views of Estes Park, Long's Peak and the panorama of Rocky Mountain National Park. Nonetheless, it was a nice hike showing the best of Colorado: some history, some wildflowers, some wildlife and some great conversations. Best yet, the clouds never opened up on us so we didn't get rained on! A little over 6.5 miles up and back with a little under 2,000 feet of elevation gain.

28) Encampment River, Medicine Bow National Forest, Encampment, WY, August 1, 2014 - For a belated birthday trip Alan, along with Jonna and Lyle headed north into the Medicine Bow. Our first hike upon getting to Wyoming was a late afternoon trek alongside the Encampment River. Sunny and serene with the smell of wild sage and the rush of white water. A touch over 6 mile with a climb just touch over a 100 feet.

29) Deep Lake, Medicine Bow National Forest, Centennial, WY, August 2, 2014 - When guide books try to write about the wonders of hiking, hikes like the one we did today are why. The hike to Deep Lake has it all: snow covered peaks, over a dozen pristine mountain lakes, idyllic meadows with babbling brooks and places where the wildflowers were so thick and colorful it looked like someone had rolled out a blanket. Stunningly beautiful, perfect weather and a great way to celebrate a belated birthday. 9 miles long with 800 feet of altitude gain.

30) Platte River, Medicine Bow National Forest, Riverside, WY, August 3, 2014 - For our final hike of our Wyoming hiking get away we did a morning stroll along the Platte River just north of the Wyoming-Colorado state border. This trail offered up a mix of vegetation with some dry areas filled with sage brush and others places it was lush with wildflowers and thick riverside willows. The cascades of the Platte provided a soundtrack and avid anglers wading in the shallows provided a picturesque scene. 4 miles out and back with a mild elevation gain of just 130 feet (but it was all in the last 1/4 mile!)

31) Arapaho Glacier Trail, Rainbow Lakes Trailhead, Ward, CO, August 10, 2014 - Holly, Rick, Jonna and Alan got a very late start on this weekend's hike and the sky was overcast when we started up the trail. We had a nice climb up through the pines and broke out of the woods at treeline just in time for dark storm clouds to come over the 'Divide. We enjoyed a quick view down onto the chain of lakes in the Boulder watershed and then beat feet back down the trail. Sadly, we didn't make it far before a real gully-washer dumped rain and hail out of the heavy, grey clouds soaking us to the bone despite our rain gear. We sloshed our way through ankle deep streams of icy slush back to the warmth of the car. 5.3 miles long with 1,200 feet of elevation.

32) Buddha Rocks, Rollinsville, CO, August 17, 2014 - Lyle was out of town but our hiking group had a special visitor: Holly's Tibetan friend Tashitso. We decided to find a semi-secret local trail in Rollinsville called the "Buddha Rocks. It was a short hike which climbed up to a rocky mountain top that turned out to have one of the best views of the Rockies in the area and then dropped down to a different rock formation which is painted with Buddha images. It was unseasonably warm but a bright blue sky filled with puffy white clouds and the shade of a dense pine forest kept us comfortable. A loop that was a little under 3 miles in length but with over 800 feet of elevation.

33) The Loch, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO, August 23, 2014 - It was just Lyle and Alan this weekend and we decided to head up into the Park. Despite living in Colorado for nearly 20 years, Alan had never done the hike up to the Lock which is one of the iconic hikes in the national park. Once again RMNP didn't disappoint with a beautiful hike a hidden mountain valley. Dark clouds turned us back before we could continue explore beyond the Loch. The clouds sprinkled on us on the trip back to the trailhead but thankfully never unleashed their full potential. 6.8 miles out and back with 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

34) Caribou Ranch Open Space, Nederland, CO, September 1, 2014 - We had a special treat for this weekend's hike: Alan's Aunt Gail was returning to Colorado for a visit and was able to join us! Additionally, Desiree and Gaelin came along after returning from a trip to France, so we had lots of great conversations catching up with everyone! We headed back to one of our favorite local hikes, the loop at Caribou Ranch. We had nice pastoral views across open meadows, some history at the old Bluebird Silver mine, old buildings at the Caribou Ranch site and a pleasant trail through mountain pine forest and aspens groves. A 4.7 mile loop with 400 ft of elevation.

35) Crater Lakes, East Portal trailhead, Toland, CO, September 7, 2014 - Lyle, Jonna and Alan had a stunning hike this weekend. Fall is on our doorstep with the aspens starting to turn gold and a crisp coolness in the air despite it being a bright sunny day. We started at the East Portal trailhead and followed the South Boulder Creek drainage halfway up to Heart Lake. Then we turned off to the north and went up, up, up to the very top of the ridgeline. There, just below the Continental Divide, were the Crater Lakes. It was beautiful being right at treeline, with big fluffy clouds just overhead, a light breeze rippling the surface of the water and baby trout leaping up into the sunshine. 6 miles up and back with a climb of 1,300 ft.

36) Button Rock, Pinewood Springs, CO, September 14, 2014 - With Jonna out of town this weekend, Alan and Lyle headed up to Todd's house to try out another one of the trails in the national forest just west of Pinewood Springs. We did Button Rock Mountain last year so this time we headed to the confusingly named Button Rock (which is different from the mountain of the same name!) The hike was short but strenuous climbing straight up from the trailhead to the top of the mountain... uh, I mean rock. The views down the canyon to Lyons and northwest to Longs Peak were worth it. To make the hike a little longer we took a circuitous route back with a little bushwacking and exploring some mystery side trails. As always a great time for "the guys" to grunt a lot, scratch ourselves and be a little adventurous. Just under 4 miles but with 1,300 foot of elevation gain.

37) Blue Lake, Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Ward, CO, September 21, 2014 - Jonna wasn't feeling well so she skipped this weekend's outing. However, our friends Desiree, Gaelin and Philippe came up into the mountains to join Lyle and Alan for a short hike. We all dodged the masses of leaf peepers along Peak-to-Peak highway well enough to make it into Brainard Lake Recreation Area. From there we hiked up above treeline to beautiful Blue Lake. The fall colors were amazing: gold aspens, orange willows and brown grasses. It was a cool morning despite starting under blue skies but it steadily became overcast and a bit cooler. Thankfully, we finished our hike before the afternoon's rain started to fall. 5.1 miles with 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

38) East Inlet Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake, CO, September 28, 2014 - It was just Jonna and Alan this weekend. We decided to get an early start so we could drive over the Divide and do a hike on the west side. ...and what a splendid hike it turned out to be: aspens that were glowing with golden light, a magnificent valley with a sparkling clear creek flowing through it, rushing waterfalls and a rocky climb up to stunning panorama. We even got back to the car before the afternoon rain rolled in. A perfect day of hiking which was made even better when we ran into our friend Brian at lunch afterwards. 6.2 miles up and back with a climb of 800 feet.

39) West Creek Falls, Cow Creek trailhead, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO, October 5, 2014 - The hiking crew did a bike-n-hike this weekend with a motorcycle ride into the park and then a nice hike to a scenic water fall...and a tough hike it turned out to be. The trail climbed up a steep ridge and then dropped just as steeply back down the other side into the West Creek valley. From there it was upstream to the West Creek Falls. Thankfully, we had great weather for both the ride and the hike: blue skies, bright sunshine and a cool Fall breeze. 5.1 miles out and back with 1,500 feet of elevation gain.

40) Lake Isabelle, Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Ward, CO, October 19, 2014 - Our friends Desiree and Gaelin again joined our hiking group and we again headed into the Brainard Lake area to view the fresh snow on the big peaks there. Wow, and what views there were to see! This was a classic Rocky Mountains hike: A picture perfect alpine lake, snow covered mountains towering overhead, beautiful blue sky and fluffy white clouds. As a bonus, we spotted a bull moose hanging out on the shore of Long Lake! What a fantastic day of hiking that was 6.6 miles long with 600 feet of elevation.

41) Lake Dorothy, Fourth of July trailhead, Eldora, CO, November 9, 2014 - It was just Lyle and Alan today and it was a triumph of the adventurous spirit over the strong pull of comfort. We were both feeling pretty run down, it was cold outside and it was crazy windy. Sitting in a warm coffee shop seemed like a decent way to spend the morning. Thankfully, a little caffiene sparked some motivation and we headed up to the Fourth of July trailhead. We slid across ice, post-holed through snow and trudged against a stiff headwind but it was all worth it for the breathtakingly beautiful view up at Arapaho Pass. Standing on the Continental Divide with snow covered mountains as far as the eye could see was so much better than just sitting in a coffee shop. 7.3 miles up and back down with 2,000 feet of elevation gain.

42) Ceran St. Vrain trail, Jamestown, CO, November 16, 2014 - Fresh snow, temperatures in the teens and gusty winds sent our hiking group headed for the shelter of the woods for today's outing. We were the only ones at the Ceran St. Vrain trailhead and found perfect boot deep powder. The trail was unbroken except for the fresh footprints of a fox and we followed those the entire length of the trail (except we bypassed the many side trips it apparently made hunting rodents). A splendid 4 mile winter hike with a mild 400 feet of elevation.

43) Ellsworth Creek trail, Rollinsville, CO, November 23, 2014 - With a snow storm on the way and temperatures dropping fast our hiking group headed out early for a quick outing. We headed to the little known Ellsworth Creek trailhead and had a nice stroll through the thick pine and aspen forest there. A fresh dusting of snow added to the wintery feel and also highlighted the footprints of a hundred tiny creatures. A pleasant, if short, morning hike and finished before the first flakes started to fall. A 3.2 mile loop with an easy 500 ft of elevation gain.

44) Mud Lake trail, Boulder County Parks, Nederland, CO, December 7, 2014 - It was cold and blustery, despite a clear blue sky, so we decided to keep it short this weekend. We also kept it quick by going back to nearby Mud Lake which we haven't been to in over a year. The area is very dry due to the lack of recent snow (the clouds show it is snowing just a few miles to the west on the other side of the Continental Divide!) but the trail was covered in black ice so it was surprising tricky for such a simple trail. Not enough of a hike to burn off the Thanksgiving calories but at least we got out to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. A winding 2.5 mile loop with a mild 250 feet of elevation gain.

44) Como Creek Valley, Como Creek trailhead, Ward, CO, December 14, 2014 - Lyle and Alan ventured out into a snow storm for this weekend's hike. Alan was on call at work and the roads were icy slick so we opted to stay close to home again. We headed to the Como Creek trailhead but ventured off trail to explore an old mining road that lead steeply down into Como Creek valley. It was both picturesque and peaceful down in the bottom of the valley and so quiet that the only sound was the squeak of my boots crunching through fresh powder and the crackle of snowflakes hitting the hood of my jacket. From there we made the big climb back up to the Como Creek trail for our return back to the trailhead. 4 miles round trip with 650 feet of elevation gain.

45) Sourdough trail, Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Ward, CO, December 21, 2014 - It was a challenging day for a hike: we were in the middle of a snow storm that had periodic 30 mph wind gusts. We tried to avoid the wind by hiking in the trees but the snow was deeper than we expected and the gusts were still bending the tree tops. If we'd had snow shoes or skis we might have stuck it out but instead we called it quits early and retreated back to the warmth of the car. ...So for the shortest day of the year we had our shortest hike. 2.5 miles out and back with 225 feet of elevation gain.

46) Redwood Regional Park, East Bay Regional Park District, Oakland, CA, December 27, 2014 - For Christmas Jonna and Alan headed to California to visit Jonna's family in Oakland. This year we wouldn't be making our traditional New Year's Eve trip to the Sierra Nevadas but we did get in a holiday California hike. Jonna's brother Jamie, Jonna and Alan headed up the hill from Jamie's place to hike a loop in Redwood Park. We went out Phillips Loop, then dropped down Prince Trail to the peaceful Stream Trail and then around back to the trailhead. As always, hiking in the towering coastal redwood trees is awe inspiring. A perfect substitute for our annual hike in the Sierras. A 3 mile loop with 500 feet of elevation gain.

If you enjoyed these you may also enjoy checking out some photos from our 2013 hikes or 2015 hikes.

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Alan Fleming