Cross Country Skiing at the Home Ranch

It’s a very snowy weekend here. We’re sitting inside reflecting on a recent winter experience: cross country skiing! Chris helped code the Home Ranch’s new website and as an extra thank you, they gave us a complimentary two-night stay.

Our favorite part was that we could borrow gear and ski as much as we wanted on their 20 miles of groomed trails. Strangely enough, we’d each cross country skied exactly once before — both many years ago, both in Michigan, and each with an aunt.  Those trips happened so long ago that we had to re-learn everything. It felt like a totally new experience. Trying something for the first time, like kids do, is so much fun! We fell a few times, but smiled a lot.

Here are some photos:

 

Visiting PCT Friends on the CDT

Shutterbug, North Star, Monkey, Mama Bear, and Wheels

Last weekend we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park hoping to cross paths with our Pacific Crest Trail friends Mama Bear and Monkey. Their trail names might ring a bell because when she was 9, Monkey became the youngest person to thru hike the PCT. This summer Mama Bear and Monkey are tackling a large section of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) from the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado to Yellowstone National Park in northern Wyoming. They are updating an engaging, well-written blog as they hike.

We’ve been texting back and forth during their trek trying to figure out a good time and place to meet up. Last Thursday they informed us that they expected to be in Grand Lake, CO on Saturday afternoon. We changed some plans and headed up, up, up to the Continental Divide. Water that falls on one side of the Divide ends up in the Pacific Ocean. Precipitation on the other side flows into the Atlantic.

 

Poudre Lake, the beginning of the Poudre River
Next to the Continental Divide at Milner Pass is Poudre Lake, the beginning of the Poudre River which flows through Fort Collins

Unmanned Wildlife Cameras

Bobcat on the prowl at night
Bobcat on the prowl at night

During Anna’s naturalist training, she learned of an awesome Fort Collins project: unmanned wildlife cameras. These cameras are mounted to trees. Whenever they sense motion and heat, they snap a photo. Unmanned cameras let us peek into what’s happening in the middle of the night, during a snowstorm, or after we round the bend out of view.

Below are a few of our favorite images from these cameras. Big exciting wildlife like bears, bobcats, fox, coyote, and mountain lions are out there, they just prefer to hide when loud humans come walking down the trail. Note the time stamp on each photo. It’s cool to see when these animals are out and doing their thing – whether it’s hunting or playing.

Young deer bounding down the trail
Young deer bounding down the trail
Coyote in tall grass
Coyote in tall grass

Fish Creek Falls, Routt National Forest

Fish Creek Falls Overlook
Fish Creek Falls Overlook

We recently spent a week in Steamboat Springs, CO with our family. As with most families, everyone had different preferences when it came to activities. The short hike to Fish Creek Falls was a hit for everyone though, including little one-and-a-half year old Kion. It was such an enjoyable yet easy hike, we came back a second time later in the week.

A paved path led us very gradually uphill to a gorgeous overlook of the falls. The warm day melted large amounts of high elevation snowpack, so the falls were gushing.

Melting snow brought out another kind of beauty too: glacier lilies. One of the first flowers to bloom after the snow recedes, they were in full bloom along the trail. Their delicate bowed heads always remind us of origami.

Glacier lilies
Glacier lilies

We then backtracked a bit and turned onto the Picnic Trail, which led us down towards the base of the falls. The sound of pounding water intensified as we drew closer. We soon reached a bridge over Fish Creek which provided a great view of the Fish Creek waterfall — all 283 feet of it!