Thursday Travels: The Cabot Trail

The ship wreck (on the right in the distance).

The shipwreck (on the right, in the water, in the distance).

I have travelled around the globe.  I have seen the Canadian Rockies, the American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the Highlands of Scotland; but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all.

~ Alexander Graham Bell

During the last Thursday Travels (A Friday edition of Thursday Travels:  The Ceilidh Trail), we left off at the shipwreck, just after visiting the Glenora Distillery.  It was shortly after this that we began our trek (okay, it was really a ride) on the Cabot Trail.

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Lost and found

View from near our hotel early this morning.

Everything is as it was, I discover when I reach my destination, and everything has changed.

~ Michael Frayn

M and I got lost somewhere in Maryland on our way home today.  But you know what they say.  It’s the journey, not the destination.  So we enjoyed the journey.  It was a fine day to get lost.  The sky was the most amazing shade of autumn blue with nary a cloud to be seen (until we neared Ohio where I sometimes think clouds are born).

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Throwback Tuesday

In the Garden of the Gods. Colorado Springs, Colorado. August 2010.

I’m not sure I like that title.  It sounds a bit like I’m throwing Tuesday back because I don’t like it or something.  Ah well.  Titles are not easy for me to come by so I’ll stick with it.

Today is a rather full day for me so I decided to mine the archives (hence the “throwback”) and see what I could come up with for a quick post.  Naturally I ended up in the Colorado section because I have ignored so many of the photos from our last trip out there that I can always come up with something that hasn’t yet appeared on Ye Olde Blogge.

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320: Mountains

Longs Peak in the background. Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado. August 2010.

Last year at the time, M and I were in Colorado, hiking around in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The WordPress Weekly Photo challenge for this week is Mountains, making this a great time to pull out some of those mountain photos that have been languishing in the archives.  Longs Peak is the only “fourteener” (summits over 14,000 feet) in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Sunday signage and green at home

(Sign at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park)

If you’re finding the sign difficult to read, click on the photo for the larger view.

The Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park was designed by Taliesin Associated Architects, a group of apprentices and senior associates who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright.  The building was completed in 1967, several years after Wright’s death, and it was the last of the major projects completed under the National Park Service’s project Mission 66.  Mission 66, in a nutshell, was a 10-year program to expand park visitor services.

(Beaver Meadows Visitor Center)

We were there around noon on our first day in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The lighting was dreadful for taking pictures.  This was about the only one that didn’t come out terribly overexposed.

(Memorial honoring National Park Service Ranger Jeff Christensen)

NPS Ranger Jeff Christensen was killed in a fall in August of 2005 while on patrol in the Mummy Range of the Rocky Mountains.  After he failed to radio in and show up for his next shift, a search was started.  With over 200 people looking for him, the search lasted for a week.  His body was finally found by a hiker on August 6, 2005.  This memorial honoring him is outside of the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.

If you’d like more information about the Free Speech Zone sign I started the post with, you can read a Wikipedia article about it here.

In other news…

M and I are home from our adventures in Colorado.  The flight home was bumpy at the start (it was breezy in Denver) and bumpy at the end (it was raining in Canton/Akron).  The height issues I mentioned in my previous post also include a fear of flying so a bumpy flight is not a good thing for me.  I am considering never flying again but that consideration will probably only last a few days.  Even if it lasts longer, I’ll buck up for the next flight because it is the quickest way to travel long distances, and because the logical and rational part of me knows that it is also one of the safest modes of transportation even if the phobic and panic-attack prone part of me disagrees.

I expected to find a jungle when we returned home.  However, there hasn’t been much rain here during the month of August (only an eighth of an inch).  The weeds, of course, don’t care one way or another about rain and thrived as usual.

(This morning’s view of the pond and some weeds that are taking over the roller.)

I’m not sure what kind of weed that is.  It reminds me of a squash or melon vine.  It does have a pretty yellow flower hidden inside the green leaves.  I’ll have to take a closer look when I go out to see what’s up in the garden.

Speaking of the garden, we had our first ears of sweet corn from our garden last night with our dinner.  It was fresh and sweet and divine.  I’m not sure I agree with Garrison Keillor who said:

I love sweet corn.  It truly is better than sex!  I’m not lying!  All across the Midwest tonight, a husband and wife will finish what husbands and wives do, and the wife will ask the husband:  ‘How was that?’  And, if the man is honest, he’ll say ‘Well, it wasn’t sweet corn, but it was nice.’  It’s a fact!  Sweet corn is better than sex! … fresh sweet corn! … Store bought sweet corn, yes, sex is definitely better than that!

But he isn’t too far off the mark.


South Boulder Creek

M and I went on an easy 4.5 mile hike yesterday morning.  We took the  South Boulder Creek Trail up to Mesa Trail and looped around on the Big Bluestem Trail to where we started.  I enjoyed it.  It didn’t involve steep climbs or the possibility of steep falls down the side of a mountain.  The first half of the hike involved ascending.  The second half was all downhill.  Nice.

The hike goes through meadows and grazing land.  We passed through a lot of gates, some open and some closed.  We didn’t see any cattle or sheep or whatever grazes out there.  We did see plenty of scat on the trails, especially around the berry bushes where the black bears like to hang out from August 15 – November 1.  Grasshoppers, butterflies, and birds flitted about.  No black bears, mule deer, fox, or mountain lions popped up anywhere along the hike.

It started out sunny and warm.  Then the clouds and wind moved in.  I thought for sure it might rain given the ominous look of the clouds rolling off the mountains.  We did get a little sprinkle but that’s it.  The clouds and breeze kept things cool, making it a pleasant day to be outside.

(Big skies)

There are great views of the Flatirons from the trails.  I took a lot of photos of the Flatirons last year so I tried not to take so many this year.

They do fascinate me, the Flatirons.  We climbed around up there last year.  The views are marvelous but my favorite way to look at them is from below.

We went back to Boulder for lunch.  On the way in we stopped at an overlook so I could snap a few pictures of Longs Peak which looked beautiful in a cloud wrapping.

We have a couple of hikes planned for today, our last full day in Colorado.  I’m not sure where we’ll end up.  We might do one or two.  We might do them all.  It depends, in part, on my left foot.  Somewhere around the last half mile of our hike yesterday I felt some discomfort from my hiking boot rubbing my heel.  It was never bad enough that I felt like I had to take off the boot.  I didn’t have to limp out.  But when I finally did take off the boot I discovered a good-sized blister.

One of the hikes we’re considering for today is on a trail that is well padded with pine needles.  I’m thinking this might be the perfect opportunity to put my Vibrams to the test.  I have worn them around the hotel and on small walks, but not on a major hike.  One reason I’ve avoided wearing them on a major hike is that the trails tend to be rocky.  I have discovered that one of the things you don’t want to do while wearing the Vibrams is stub a toe (or toes).  I tend to drag my feet when I get tired, an action that is almost guaranteed to result in the stubbing of a toe.  A well padded trail might be just the thing for my first good hike in my new “barefoot” shoes.

(Evening on the Pearl Street Mall.)

We had dinner with M the Younger and Merdi in Boulder again last night.  This time we went to The Mediterranean Restaurant.  It was a fantastic choice.  The food was excellent and the service was good.  We’ve noticed in passing the place on various occasions that it always seems to be busy.  Now we know why.  We started with some tapas dishes.  M stayed with the tapas so he could try different things.  The rest of us moved on to entrees.  I had the vegetarian paella.  The saffron rice was perfectly cooked and mingled with a big variety of peppers — both sweet and hot — as well as peas, artichoke hearts, asparagus, onions, and kalamata olives.  There may have been a few other veggies in there that I’m not remembering.  It was an interesting and lively dish.  Piquant describes it well.  I would have eaten it all if I could.

The serving sizes were good, too.  They were not super-sized as they are in a lot of U.S. restaurants.  If I hadn’t sampled the tapas and had ordered just the entree, I could have finished it without walking away feeling as if I made a pig of myself.

I’d better get myself ready for the day.  I can’t believe it’s already our last day here.  The time has flown by.

Hot hiking

(My no-longer-new hiking boots.)

M and I went on two hikes yesterday.  They were not long hikes.  I think our grand total was a little over 3 miles.  Even after over a week at this altitude (and a few days at higher altitudes) I still have the huffs and puffs when we go up so “a little over 3 miles” feels more like a little over 5 or 6 miles especially when the temperature outside is in the 80’s and climbing into the 90’s.  It was up to 97F by the time we finished.

(On the road towards Boulder and our hiking destinations.)

Our first stop was Heil Valley Ranch in the North Valley Foothills.  The trails are part of the Boulder Open Space system.  We decided on the Lichen Trail — which is a 1.3 mile easy loop (there is a little climbing but it’s nothing compared to other trails we’ve been on) — and ventured off onto the Wapiti Trail for a little while just to have a look around.  We started around 10am and the temperature was already well into the 80s.  One of the advantages of the Lichen Trail is that it does have the occasional shady spots and it is a pedestrian-only trail.  Mountain biking is very popular around here (makes sense, don’t ya think?).  I don’t mind the bikers for the most part (they give me an excuse to stop for a minute and breathe as they pass).  Sometimes, though, it’s nice not to worry about someone speeding around a rocky corner and running into you.

The Lichen Trail had good views of the foothills and mountains in the background and lichen-covered boulders scattered all over the place near the trail.  The Boulder County foothills are, geologically speaking, a fault and fracture zone.

(Cacti growing in a boulder.)

The trails at Heil Valley Ranch pass through grasslands, woodlands, shrublands, forests, and canyons.  We passed through or had a view of each on our hike.  Wildlife in the park include squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, marmots, foxes, mule deer, bobcats, mountain lions, and black bears.  The only wildlife we saw were some butterflies flitting among the abundant wildflowers.  As M said, all the intelligent creatures were napping in a shady spot somewhere, keeping cool, while the humans were hiking and biking and working up a great amount of sweat.

(A view of the grasslands, shrublands, forests, etc.)

This was originally planned as our warm-up hike for the day.  But the day grew so hot so quickly that we decided we didn’t need (and couldn’t do) a longer hike so we set out for a back-up shorter hike after a short rest, lots of water, and a few handfuls of trails mix to get us energized.

We stopped in the town of Lyons to refuel (the gas in the car, the water in my CamelBak and in M’s water bottles) and to pick up a few maps.  Then it was on to Hall Ranch, the home of the golden eagle, the great horned owl, Cooper’s hawk, bighorn sheep, coyote, deer, bobcats, and many other creatures including the one we were warned about:  the mountain lion.  We encountered a few butterflies and lots of grasshoppers.  I found the grasshoppers entertaining as they seemed to be leading the way for us.  There were a few mountain bikers and hikers out there as well, but we mostly saw them from a distance.

The views were lovely, the sun was hot, and there was very little shade to be found.  Hall Ranch is located at the interface between the plains and the mountains.  The land in that area was farmed, prospected, and quarried by a variety of families over the years.

(Along the trail.)

I saw dust devils along the trail.  One of the almost-nice things about the heat here is that it is, as they say, a dry heat.  Most of the time.  Even when it rains, it dries out fairly quickly.


M spotted those guys pictured above along the trail.  They sure look like tomatillos to me.  I’ve been craving salsa verde ever since I saw them.

We had a picnic lunch in a shady spot near a creek in Lyons.  Before eating we took off our hiking shoes and waded in the cold water for a little while.  It was refreshing.  There were lots of people there wading and tubing and just generally staying cool on a hot summer day.

It was close to 2:30pm by the time we finished lunch so we went back to the hotel and spent the hottest part of the day in the pool.  We met M the Younger and Merdi later in the evening in Boulder where we had dinner at Hapa, a sushi place.  It was fun and delicious.  Boulder was fairly crowded with University of Colorado students and their parents.  Today is move in day for the new students.

(Heading back towards Boulder after our hikes.)

I’m not sure what M and I will be doing today.  We’ve been trying to decide on a hike that isn’t too far from Boulder.