Sunday, May 17, 2020

Hike #14: The sweet taste of (controlled) Freedom! Bear Creek Lake Park

Date: May 16th, 2020
Hike Distance: 7.2 Miles
Location: Lakewood, Colorado. Bear Creek Lake Park. Mt. Carbon Loop
Hike Start Time: 1:30 PM
Condition: Warm, Sunny
Total Miles: 69.0

As the world changes around us, and we all start to adjust and figure out what the new normal is going to be, it's important to find a way to experience the things you love, while being safe with the people you love.  The weather's getting warmer, and we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and we decided to do a little research about how we could get outside today.

My wife got a fishing license for a Christmas present and wanted to get out on a lake or river to go fishing, and my daughter was all about it. 

Confession: I don't really enjoy fishing.  I went a few times as a kid with my grandfather, and I always remember packing up fishing stuff to take on vacation and never actually using it.  My experience has always been that fishing entails 70% messing with your gear; whether that be untangling lines, tying on hooks and bobbers and sinkers, and then getting things stuck in grasses algae or logs underwater.  I'm sure a lot of it has to do with just being really crappy at fishing, but besides a couple of bluegills in a pond in Boy Scouts, I can't ever remember ever even being around someone when they caught anything, let alone seeing anyone catching anything of note.

So we found a good little lake for the girls to go fishing at, and I found a trail around that lake for myself that looked to be a pretty nice little trek.

I went into my pack, and got a little sad while getting the supplies for the trail.  I had to remove any gloves, and other cold weather gear, because the last time I got out it was still in the transition from Winter to spring.  I also took out the set of Micro Spikes I purchased in March.  I got a little money saved up and wanted to treat myself.  I had my eye on a bunch of trails, that at the time, had some ice in certain areas, and so I went about getting some Spikes.  At the time I joked with my wife, that I was either going to get the spikes or a hammock, but since it was cold out, I'd wait on the hammock

Well,. I never got to use them, and I don't have a hammock now, so I obviously made the wrong choice.  Well, I'll just put those away until the fall, or unless I do some higher altitude hiking this summer.

We settled on Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood.  It looked to be a lake that was fairly regularly stocked, and had enough shoreline to allow people to social distance and still have a good time.  My family dropped me off at Morrison park.  It was west of the park and had a connecting trail past a hogback and following the creek that fed the lake.

It was an interesting start to any hike I had done previously, because It took me directly through a downtown of the small town of Morrison.  There were a ton of people walking around, and I made a point to use my gaiter that I had also acquired right before lockdown, as a face shield.  It's no concern of mine how you feel about this disease, but I feel like a face covering is quite literally the least we can do for our neighbors at this time.  I was a little disappointed to see that the majority of people that were out, were not wearing them.

I made my way through town and then along a bikeway that took me under the freeway and into the park.  It was a really pretty walk along Bear creek.  The meandering water was a great backdrop to otherwise developed and built upon, but eventually I got to a point that left behind all civilization besides that occasional cars at picnic areas. 

My wife sent me a ping on google Maps to show me where they were fishing and I continued my journey around the park.  It was really nice along the creek.  There was good shade, a light breeze, and the trail was pretty well graded that looked from the construction style to be designed primarily for biking.  There were a lot of Mountain bikes that came by, but all of them were really friendly and yielded appropriately. 

I went past the last parking area and made my way up the side of a large man made dam at the east side of the park.  I couldn't help but wonder if this particular area would ever actually need flood control as high as this had been designed for.  If this area filled up to the top of the dam level, it would fill the entire area with water.  I think it was a little overkill., but I'm not a hydro engineer so what do I know.

After the last parking lot, there was absolutely no shade for the rest of hike.  I was really glad I had some sunscreen in the pack.  While working my way up the dam, I could hear the noises from the nearby drag strip.  there were 8-12 second bursts of speed and octane that rang over the hills.  I thought it was kind of cool to hear, but I'm sure people with houses nearby don't appreciate the novelty like I did.

Most of the time when you get to the top of a hike, you get a payoff.  It could be a great view, or just the accomplishment of making it to the top.  On this hike, the reward was........a golf course.  To add insult to injury, the drink cart for the course drove right by, and didn't even ask if I wanted a beer.

This precipice was also the moment that I realized I needed to get better at topo maps.  Looking at the trail, I assumed I'd be traveling across the top of the levy. I was wrong, very wrong.  The trail took me all the way back down the other side of the dam and along the bottom, and then had me start the long haul all the way back up again.  I was a little disappointed in myself to make this mistake, but I can't really complain, because climbing hills is pretty much the whole hobby.

I made it back up to the top of what the map labelled Mt. Carbon.  About 3/4 of the way up I could see back down on the lake and tried to pinpoint where the girls were hanging out.  I checked with them on their status for fishing and decided to alter my course a little.

The original plan was to continue along the lake and then finish the full loop, but looking at the map, there was no crossing of the river on the far side of the lake, so instead I went counterclockwise around the lake to meet up with them.

Here's another chapter in my love/hate relationship with the Alltrails tracking.  You may or may not recall the last time I went hiking that when I ended my hike the device continued tracking me all the way back into town, and messed up the distance, so I foolishly thought that It would keep tracking me if I went off the original plan. 

I was wrong.  As soon as I turned off the Mt. Carbon loop and onto the fisherman's trail, it stopped tracking my distances.  I noticed once I had gone halfway around and took some pictures.  So I restarted it from there, but you'll once again see a gap in my hike.  I estimated the part that was left out to get my full distance.

I found the girls coming back from a PB&J break, but a couple of people had taken their previous fishing spot.  After walking around a little, we were unable to secure a new spot because it was a little crowded and we wanted to keep our distance, so the fishing part of the trip was complete. 

I told My daughter about a really good place along the trail to get to the creek and so we spent some time playing in the creek.  It felt really good to soak my feet and ankles in the freezing cold mountain water for a while.  I could've stayed there for the rest of the day.

It was a great day outside, and it was amazing to be anywhere but in the house.  I'm looking forward to more days like this.  I'm going to try and get out at sunrise super early midweek to limit the potential for crowds.  I'm glad to be back and I look forward to sharing many more adventures with you all again.

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