Beyond Bananas – Hitting the trails

3, 9, 12, 17 August

Like all parents, mine indoctrinated me. They planted the seeds. They fertilised the seeds.

They took my brother and me hiking on many Sundays in our youth. When our friends and family were in church pews in Bible Belt Indiana, our family was out hiking the trails of the state parks of Indiana.

My brother and I would race ahead, sweating and swatting bugs in the humidity of summer or kicking through thick leaves in fall. We were always instructed to wait at the signposts at the next trail junction. When our parents caught up, my Dad would unfold the map and show us where we were and where we could go.

This all helped to instill in me a love of maps and the great outdoors. (It didn’t really stick for my brother)!

Checking out the trail map before a hike.

So hiking with my Dad goes way back to the beginning. It has been great to get in a lot of hikes with him on this trip, too. Many of the hikes we’ve done will be the last time my Dad ever does the hike because he is becoming more uncomfortable on steep trails or trails with lots of rocks or a slippery surface. So we’ve been kinda doing my dad’s ‘final hike’ bucket list over the past month.

Enjoy the pictures from these hikes below and don’t be too jealous of all the gorgeous scenery πŸ™‚

3 August – Monarch Crest Trail – 10 miles – Elevation gain: approx 750 feet – High point: just below 12,000 ft

The Monarch Crest Trail runs from Monarch Pass to Marshall Pass. It is extremely popular because there is little elevation gain required to get above treeline and fabulous views. It is always on the list of top mountain bike rides and is easy enough that you’ll even see families with kids under 10 out on the trail. It does mean as a hiker that you have to step off the trail a zillion times to let bikers go by, but almost everyone is friendly and polite and will thank you for stepping off the trail. It’s worth it though for the views.

9 August -Ptarmigan Lake Trail – 6.8 miles – Elevation gain: 1620 feet – High point: 12,300 ft

This is another really nice hike up Cottonwood Canyon out of Buena Vista. It gently ascends from the parking area through forest, two boulder fields and then past two lakes as you climb through willow thickets and up above treeline.

This was a last hurrah for my dad on this hike, too, as he now finds the boulder field crossings very precarious. So it was very nice to accompany him on his final hike of this trail. The views were gorgeous, the guys got a nice, long float at the lake with such an outstanding setting, and I continued up the trail to the saddle to look back down on the lake where my dad and the guys waited.

The trail is extremely popular, but we were lucky to have the lake to ourselves due to our early start. We passed tons of people on the way back down. There were 25 cars parked along the road when we got back to the trailhead (there were only 3 other cars there when we got there in the early AM).

If you hike to the saddle above the lake, it’s a bit further and tops out at 12,300.
Not too much beetle kill in the forest on this hike.
Just below the lake.
Ptarmigan Lake from the saddle. My dad and the guys are down there on the far shore. That’s Turner Peak and Mt Yale in the background.
The guys got in a very nice float with some of the best floating views ever.
See my dad over there? These big talus slopes make him nervous these days.

12 August – Browns Canyon National Monument – 2.5 miles

A short nice hike through big granite boulders down to the Arkansas River where the guys got to have a nice float.

17 August – Turkey Rock – 2.5 miles – Elevation gain: not a lot – high point 7500 ft

We had plans for another high altitude lake hike but the weather had other ideas. So we drove down and wandered around the Turkey Rock area during the morning. We somehow missed the rain, but the high peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range remained in cloud.

So Turkey Rock was the end of our hiking adventures for a couple weeks. My brother and his girlfriend arrived for two weeks on Friday the 19th. Perhaps in the last few days before I fly home we’ll get a chance for another hike or two.

All of these hikes built my confidence that my body can now do much more physical activity without repercussions. I wanted to really see what I could do though, so on Thursday I planned a big hike. My mom religiously eats at a pizza place every Thursday because of their drink specials and there is no budging for her on that. I can’t eat anything there, so Thursday the 18th (my anniversary of 21 years of living in Oz) seemed like the perfect day to see if I could push my body even more….

4 thoughts on “Beyond Bananas – Hitting the trails

  • I’m pleased the guys have got in a float or two – they look like they are really enjoying the scenery. Two others that look like they are really enjoying themselves are you and your Dad. A real re-bonding is happening during these walks I reckon. Glad it’s all working out and that you are finding yourself so fit. You had too long with illnesses – now is your time to have adventures. Look out Victoria in September.

    • Thanks, Tony. It certainly feels novel to be able to expend a bunch of energy and not feel terrible afterward. It has been good to spend a lot of time with my Dad. We’ve never had a whole lot in common, but time on the trail is always fun! He’s very accommodating of the guys’ floatie needs, too πŸ™‚

  • Looks like the perfect summer for high altitude hiking. You and your dad look so happy in the photos! I’m really glad you have this time with your folks. And I am so relieved your body is healing. No better present than that!

    • Yes, it was a good decision to spend some extra time this year with the folks. And good to do some of the trails for a final time. Thanks, too, for the photos of Miss H on her bike – glad she’s enjoying it! I hope the school year is off to a great start – time sure flies!

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