April 19, 2010

Exploding Animals and Sunday Hikes

Sunday was warm and Keene didn't have band practice, so we decided to go hiking with the kids. To pick out a trail, I went to the Fun Colorado Hikes website. This is a fantastic, user-friendly site that makes it easy to scour the many, many trails in Colorado. You can search by distance from Denver, by difficulty level, or by Colorado region (North, South, etc.)

I looked in the 60 Minutes From Denver and found a moderate trail called Three Mile Creek Trail. Additionally, it said, "You will enjoy crossing over the creek more than fifteen times!" How did they know that? We get excited about the prospect of playing in any form of water, whether it's in a pool, river, lake, or muddy puddle.

We piled in the car and drove on Highway 285 for about 1.5 hours (or seven hours, in kid-time). This includes the ten-minute traffic stop, when a policeman noticed that I had two license plates: an expired plate still attached at the back and a current one in my rear window. I explained that the screws were stripped, which is why the expired one was still attached. The oh-so-nice cop let me go with a warning, after we promised to work on swapping the plates as soon as we got home.

As I was pulling away, I asked Keene, "So is this what normal traffic stops are like? No worries about warrants? No threats of jail-time? I wasn't even worried about my license being taken away this time!" (It's been an eventful few years...) Immediately, I sat up straighter and felt the sense of responsible adult fulfillment wash over me.

With that out of the way, we proceeded to our hiking destination: Grant, Colorado. I think there are about five buildings in all of Grant. I wish we had the thirty seconds it would take to explore the town, but we were eager to start our Day o'Fun.

From Hwy 285, we turned right onto CR-62. This confused us since it doesn't really look like anything but a dirt road; nevertheless, it led us to the trailhead.

We filled out our information at the permit box before setting out. There's nothing that says, "safe family hike" like specifying how many people are in your party and how long you'll be gone in case you later turn up missing.

The hike was immediately beautiful, despite the signs of rampant pine beetles and forest fires.

The hike was also immediately worrisome, since the first five minutes involved walking along the side of a steep slope with an abrupt drop-off. I watched the kids nervously, ready to grab onto them at the first sign of a stumble. Oh, but don't worry: there were three strands of barb wire blocking you from plunging off the cliff. Whew!

Finally, the ground leveled and we entered the forest where everywhere you looked were trees, trees, trees. Standing up, lying down, leaning over...

...acting as bridges. There were many of these simple, but sturdy bridges along the path.

However, there was one instance in which we had to cross a stream by rock-jumping.

There was one area that seemed to serve as the bulletin board of the forest. All of the trees were etched with initials, names, or messages. My favorite was this one:

It made me imagine Led Zeppelin had followed this path forty years ago.

This tree kept throwing gang signs, trying to intimidate us.
"It's not going to work, Tree!"

Although we didn't see any animals, we did spot the hairy Bigfoot at one point, running behind the trees:

While the trail itself was a pretty easy walk, there were many times when we ventured just off the path to explore something more interesting (and a little more treacherous than a Sunday afternoon stroll).

Halfway through our hike, we stopped for a water-and-granola break. I am so glad we brought the snacks. Even though we ate lunch prior to leaving the house, we got pretty hungry from all the exercise by this point.

Finally we reached a meadow after walking for maybe two hours. There was deer (elk?) poop everywhere, but unfortunately, we didn't see any actual wildlife...

However, we did see where a bird of some kind must have spontaneously combusted:

And a deer (or elk):

And a tree:
And an owl:

On our way back down, we came across some really strange trees.

The "goodbye cruel world!" tree standing on this ledge:

The upside-down tree:

The alien-caterpillar-horse tree:

The siamese-twin tree (connected at the base):

The literal rock face:


When I said that we didn't see any animals, that wasn't entirely true.
We did see a wooden bunny, hiding behind the tree:

On our way home, we stopped at the hot-dog-shaped hot-dog stand (which was delicious, by the way).

Notes from the Future: Keene fixed my license plate situation. I think he should quit his fancy, lab-coat-wearing job and become a mechanic. They wear jumpsuits, you know.

1 comment:

Aryn said...

I love your writing!
This sounds like it was so fun! I bet the kids slept pretty well that night!