Tuesday, August 9, 2011


SATURDAY, August 6:
Rembolds at Lake Isabelle
Click HERE to view a sampling of today's pictures
            Up at what is proving to me my usual time of about 6:45 – first to stir!  I get the water heating up for coffee, and do my study sitting in Erik’s “sky chair” which he left last night.  The sky chair hooks to a cable slung between two trees and then swings from there.  It is very comfortable! 
            We are ready to go by 9 am, which was the target time, but are not surprised when it is another 40 minutes before Kirsty and gang pull up.  J  In the meantime, I let Jed defeat me once again in a game of cribbage.  Evidently I shouldn’t play while waiting for Kirsty, as I have lost both times! 
            On our way north on the Peak to Peak highway toward ‘Brainard Lake Recreation Area and the trailhead to Long Lake and Lake Isabelle.  It is a gloriously beautiful day with clear skies.  Little whisps of clouds are starting to gather by the time we start hiking.  The climb from the highway up to Brainard, past the entrance station (fee $9 per car) is considerable.  As always I am grateful to be making the climb in the car, rather than by foot!         We hit the trail around 10:45, having to park along the lake because the Long Lake trailhead is full.  There are cars parked EVERYWHERE!  Most of Boulder must be taking this hike today, or picnicking at the lake, etc.  This will add at least a mile to the hike, but it won’t be too much in elevation gain added. 
            The views from the lake are wonderful, and as I later learn, surpassed by the views from Lake Isabelle itself.   
Rick spends some quality time with
            We hike up past Long Lake on the south side of the lake – passing a score of streams flowing down the hillside through Parry’s Primose-laden fields.  These tall dark pink flowers are gorgeous along the streams, as well as plenty of bluebells, and other yellow aster types. We cross several very boggy sections of trail – Colorado, like Oregon, is about a month behind normal years and there has been plenty of snow still melting.     We hit the Lake Isabelle trail at the west end of the lake.  From there you can see a huge snowfield and waterfall next to it up at the end of the valley.  Lake Isabelle sits just above it. The trail winds up a few switchbacks to climb to the basin, and in a couple of places we cross the snowfield, complete with trail signs marking the route stuck in the snow.  
            This lake basin is absolutely incredibly gorgeous.  It is everything I could have hoped for in a “rocky mountain hike”.  Snowfields, alpine meadows, peaks, wildflowers, waterfalls and …….PLENTY OF PEOPLE!  But sometimes you have to trade solitude for beauty. 
Is this not a gorgeous place?
            We hike around the outlet end of the lake to a spot overlooking the cascading waterfall which flows through a gap in the snowfield.  A good spot as we can still see the peaks above the lake, and lose a fair number of the crowds of people everywhere else.  Kaila gets a chance to play in the water a bit – well, Kirsty gets her wet anyway!  We share much of our snacks as they have left their granola bars in the car!  No problem – we brought more than enough!
            Erik and Jed cut across the outlet creek to take some pictures from the other side. Brindle their dog follows.  Brindle is a great dog – mellow and really obedient! 
            Eventually we head back down the trail, taking the north side of Long Lake back to our starting point.  Because we couldn’t park at the Long Lake trailhead, we cut back down the Niwot Mt. Connector to Brainard Lake and our parking spot well down the lake shore.
            Into Nederland to stop and pick up ice and some Skinny Cow Ice Cream sandwiches!  Kaila enjoys her chance to try it out as well, as we sit under a grove of aspens at the corner of the grocery parking lot.  We are in the middle of the Carousel Celebration – so things are lively.  Nederland is an “interesting” mix of a town anyway – unique individuals, shops, etc. 
Enjoying ice cream in Nederland
            Back to the campground, where Erik packs up the chairs, etc. left from last night and we eventually say our goodbyes, having made arrangements to meet tomorrow night in
Boudler at their house to go out for dinner. 
            And then it is time to “clean house” in preparation for the arrival of Todd and Amy, who pull into camp around 4:30pm.  They set up their tent, and after some “chit chat” time, we pull out the nighttime bocci ball set that Todd has brought.  The four of us (not Rick) play a wild and crazy game of made up rules in the trees behind our site.  I do have to note officially in the blog that Ginger won with a score of 11 to Todd’s 7 and Amy and Jed tying for last at 5.  Later after dinner, a nighttime game ensued, but most of the balls wouldn’t work, so Jed used my red one and I declined, holding on fast to my earlier victory!  And the women ruled, because Amy won this time around.  However, in the middle of the game, as Amy’s yellow orange flickering ball went flying through the air, the camp host came to ask if we had a fire going in the woods!  Oops!  We assured her it was a game of nighttime bocci ball and all was fine!  Don’t know if someone “called it in” or she just noticed as she was making her rounds.
            Dinner was a creative affair!  Todd and Amy had brought up supplies for making tacos, so we put off our pancake suggestion for breakfast in the morning.  Offering up turkey hot dogs chopped up with their bean dip, our tortillas, we chopped up our tomato and Jed hand “diced” the cheese, and the lettuce salad, we did pretty well making a taco dinner as well!  A shared adventure.  It was funny because everytime Amy said they could use such and such a tool, we were able to produce one!  Even to pulling out the griddle to warm up the tortillas! 
            After dinner, Jed once again dazzled us with his marshmallow roasting skills as s’mores were made and the last of the chocolate bars I had was consumed.  I thought we had two, but discovered only one.
Jed, Todd, and Amy
Bocci ball was followed by a game of Dominion, light provided by one of the head lamps suspended from the center of the dining fly.  (I had suggested we put the fly up before Todd and Amy arrived, and since it rained twice during the evening, I was glad we had done so!)  Rick and I went to bed, but the three of them had a good time playing Jed’s latest version of Dominion. 
What a great day!  Family, friends, gorgeous scenery, and fun games together.

Sunday, August 7:
Click HERE to view a sampling of today's pictures
Rick and Ging at Ouzel Falls
          What another glorious morning!  Up to sit in the sun, do my study, and then begin to get things out and ready to make pancake and cook turkey bacon for breakfast.  Todd and Amy arise and break camp.  They have an obligation at church this morning, so must leave no later than 9 am.  We enjoy fresh strawberries they have brought up, plus blueberry pancakes cooked the best I could without any spray or oil for the griddle.  Light oleo just doesn’t work the same.  I have MAJOR trouble with sticking!  Oh well, they tasted good, even if they didn’t win awards for beauty. 
Ouzel Falls
            After our friends leave, we pack up ourselves to be ready for another day of hiking.  Rick and Jed had decided yesterday to forgo the summit of Bierstadt.  I can’t say I was disappointed, because that meant I didn’t have to make a decision about whether to try it or not, whether I would hold Rick back from making the top or not, etc.  We ALL were going for another hike.  However, some of our materials left a little of the details off.  Kirsty and Erik had given us some recommendations, but without a lot of detail.  We finally leave, hoping to stop at the Visitor Center in Nederland and get a little more info.  Well, it wasn’t going to open for another two hours, so we started driving in search of a sign to Rainbow Lake trail, but didn’t find that.  We ended up at Wild Basin trailhead in RMNP – the most southernly entrance on this side of the mountains, just below Mt. Logan and Mt. Meeker.  Our destination will be Ouzel Falls, about 2.7 miles up the trail. 
            Well, our hike became 3.7 miles instantly when the parking lot at the end of the road filled up and we were forced to park in the Winter /Trail Parking, which added another mile on the road to the hike.  Fortunately, this ended up being one additional mile ONLY at the beginning, as coming back down we HITCHHIKED a ride back to the truck!  Yes, I can say now that I have hitchhiked, although it was Rick’s thumb sticking up in the air that did the trick!  Just as we were leaving the upper parking area, two couples in a big red pickup truck (our only option was a truck and there are so many SUVs up here!) went by and Rick gave it a chance!  The driver stopped, we put down the tailgate, and all three of us jumped on the tailgate!  When we got down to our truck, I went to the window to say thank you and tell them that was my first hitchhiking experience.  The driver responded, “it’s the first time I’ve ever stopped for someone!”  Rick said he must have been looking at me when he stopped, not Jed and Rick! 
Purple asters on a hillside
            But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  The hike!  So very different from yesterday’s huge alpine vistas.  Today we wandered nearly 3 miles along streams and rivers, climbing about 900’ in elevation and passing three waterfalls along the way, each unique in its own way.  We also passed through an area that burned in 1978, and is now slowly returning – hillsides filled with young aspen trees, fireweed, and dead trees still pointing to the sky.  Not a huge amount of the trail, but we did go through part of the burn just below Ouzel Falls.  Past the falls, the trail continues on up to Ouzel Lake and another lake high in a cirque below the peaks.  But that was further than we planned for today. 
            And by the time we returned to the trailhead, it was 2:15 in the afternoon and the sun was HOT!  (It was to be in the mid nineties in Boulder today)  We were so appreciative of our shortened return down the dusty road to the truck! 
            Back through Nederland to pick up drinks and ice, and we are into our campsite at Kelly Dahl shortly after 4.  Rick takes a nap while Jed defeats me for a third time in cribbage.  At least I was “in the game” this time around.  We clean up the best we can having had no shower for four days (wash hair, clean clothes) and at 5:15 head down to Boulder.  (A little later than planned as we were visited by a very talkative new “neighbor” in the campground from Denver).  Jed drove in his car to give Rick a break, which Rick really appreciated. 
            Route 119 from Nederland down (emphasis on DOWN three thousand feet in 18 miles) is beautiful in a narrow, rock lined canyon along Boulder Creek.  A windy, windy road!  You definitely don’t figure on 60 mph here!  We managed to recharge both cell phones going down which was necessary as we had calls to make!  I also got my camera battery fully recharged today returning to the campsite.  This ”no electricity” business can get tough with modern technology!  In fact, as I write, my laptop is nearing the lower threshold of operation and will need charging today when we return to the highway! 
            We stop in between a McDonalds and Burger King and grab a little free internet to check emails, etc.  Also call both Moms, Luke, and I email Tinny about Taos.  I try to upload a few of the pictures, but I am now three days behind – days in which over 700 pictures have been taken, so this won’t be a fast process once I do get internet connection!  Editing, cropping, labeling, etc. all need to take place.  The vistas along the way have been so incredible that I haven’t wanted to take time in the truck to write. 
            We find Kirsty and Erik’s house and arrive just before 7pm.  After a quick tour of the townhouse condo (3 levels), we take off for downtown Boulder again (Erik stayed home to do some work) for dinner out at the Boulder Tea House.  Kirsty, as manager of the Boulderado Restaurant, is given a monthly allowance to dine out at the competition, so there was no discussion with her about who was taking who to dinner!  I tried and failed! 
Outside the Tea House
            But what fun to dine out at a fancy place!  The Tea House is part of the sister city exchange Boulder has with the capital city of Tajikistan.  It was built, taken apart, and crated over in 20 crates and rebuilt in the 1990’s.  Persians décor, finely painted and carved ceilings, fancy tile work panels, beautiful copper statues in a pond in the center, grape covered arbor outside and creekside dining along Boulder Creek.  We opted for creekside which pretty much was perfect for Kaila.  She played with a spoon and the metal table and most of her racket couldn’t be heard over the creek anyway! 
            The menu is an eclectic mix from many nations.  I had a chicken dish with dried apricots and cherries (a half a chicken with only one drumstick bone remaining!) and rice; Rick a salmon dish that was piled 5 inches high in a tower on his plate (see picture!); Jed a steak dish that was served on big lettuce leaves with bean sprouts; and Kirsty and Krista had a steak with rice, etc.  I tried a cup of Ginger Mango tea (afterall, it is a tea house!) and it came with a little teapot, a lotus dish to put it in after straining and a little three minute timer to watch so I wouldn’t overbrew my tea!  Quite fancy!  Good tea – I was glad the ginger wasn’t too strong.  We gave Kirsty our reviews so she could “write up” her visit; and then walked the 5 blocks, past the Boulder Pedestrian Mall, to Kirsty’s Boulderado Hotel and the Q restaurant.  The hotel and restaurants are owned by different people, but the restaurant supplies the food for the fancy restaurant, the corner bar, and the bar downstairs, as well as all room service.  The hotel is over a 100 years old in constant operation.  I didn’t take pictures inside, but wish I had!  Similar to the Geiser in era – big ceiling stained glass window over the lobby, curved balcony area on a mezzanine which is the site of many weddings (I could see politicians speaking from there), and lots of dark wood railings, etc. 
Rick and Kaila at Corner Bar of the
            We met some of the employees and then went out to the corner bar sidewalk patio and ordered dessert – two for the five of us to split!  A Flourless Chocolate Cake with raspberry sauce and sorbet, and a Pineapple Upsidedown Cake with Coconut Macaroons.  Basically about a bite each of each, but we were already full!  Kirsty can eat for free at the restaurant at any time with her guests also.  We left a tip however for our waiter! 
            Walk back to the cars with a beautiful evening and more than half-full moon and say our goodbyes.  We gas up Jed’s car and head up the narrow canyon to our camp, and crawl into bed.  Another big day over and the end to our Rocky Mt. weekend.  Destination tomorrow?  Leadville and points south!  Goodnight.

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