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January 26, 2017

I was so excited to see the forecast…no snow and temperatures warming to the mid-50’s in Denver.  As such, I planned a snowshoe with Tanya (and Ellie the dog) at Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  Little did I know that the high in the area was only going to be 18 degrees.  And that doesn’t include any windchill above the treeline.  Fortunately, Tanya was open to adjusting the location.

Instead, we headed out to Apex Park, part of Jefferson County Open Space.  The 700 acre park provides 9.4 miles of multi-use trails.  We arrived at the parking area around 9:30.  We were the only car in the lot aside from one other that pulled in simultaneously.  It seemed odd that on this clear, sunny day only a few of us would be enjoying the trail, but at 9:30 it was still bitter cold at a mile high!

We grabbed a map, bundled up, and prepared for a hike around five-miles.  We hadn’t decided on which route to take, but we knew from perusing the map we connect a few loops to get in a decent walk for the day.  We started out Apex Trail where we quickly came to a trail junction.

Since much of Apex Trail caters to mountain bikers, we turned right onto Pick-N-Sledge Trail and gained close to 900 feet over the next 1.5 miles.  Depending on which side of the mountain slope we were on, we either trekked along an orange path lined by golden grasses or  a frozen path of snow.  While I doubt this is true, frozen ground feels harder than pavement!  At least we weren’t walking through slush.

From Pick-N-Sledge Trail we began to descend down Grubstake Trail.  In the shade of the forest, however, Ellie’s feet started getting cold, so we turned around and took a half-mile short cut on Bonanza.  From Bonanza we connected with Grubstake and soon retraced our steps back to the trailhead.

We found our steps along the frozen side of the slope to be beautiful.  The pine trees and succulents were covered in frost, like a sprinkler system went off while it was below freezing.  In places, we could see the shapes of the individual snowflakes.

While the landscape was pretty and the view of Golden was nice, what I think we liked the most was spotting a large herd of elk!  I was surprised to see them so close to town.  Usually, we are only blessed with deer sightings.  They were quite grand and certainly cautious of our hunting dog!  Overall, I think our jaunt turned out to be four miles…no big feat, but a nice way to spend a sunny day that eventually warmed up.  I suppose we’ll get out there and snowshoe at some point, but I’ll be headed to warmer weather first…Cuba!  ETB

Website for Park:  http://www.jeffcooutdoors.org

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