Vacation in Fort Collins! dear friend, coworker, and local guide, Marilyn, invited us to come down out of the mountains for an overnight in Fort Collins.. what a great idea!   We packed a few things and hit the road.  Our first stop – our favorite cafe,  Howling Cow, where we enjoyed a cup of tea, caught up on internet news and got great tips for hikes in Fort Collins and for a local pie shop..   Me Oh My  Coffee and Pie..     we could not resist that!..

the fact that it happened to be PI day only heightened our interest 🙂    In side, we found a great selection of homemade goodies… settled on little hand pies..  appropriately priced for the day at  $3.14 …   so tempting, we took a bite before I could reach for my phone to take a pic!

I was struck by some of the signs hanging in the shop.. could not resist taking a shot of this one…

Next stop was the trail head for the Foothills Trail.. coincidentally, just across the street from Marilyn’s home!   This trail is located by the “old”  Colorado State University stadium.  It did not look all that old to me, but a new one will be ready for the 2017 football season…   the pic at the top of the post is  of the mountain behind the stadium..  complete with the letter A painted on the hillside… Although the mascot for the university is now a Ram,  in the old days the school was known as the Aggies, and the A is a tradition that has continued to thrive..  apparently the freshmen football players are tasked with the job of refreshing the paint each year.

This is where we need to insert the interesting part… Marilyn’s father, a mountain man through and through, cautioned her to never hike this hill because of the resident rattlesnake population… if you happen to know Janet.. you understand that this kind of story sparks considerable anxiety!   But it is March, and the snakes are still snug in their dens… we hope!

so off we go!   a very nice path, very popular with the locals…  I wonder if they understand how fortunate they are to have so many recreational opportunities so close at hand!

no, Janet.. this is not a rattlesnake hole!    try a prairie dog 🙂  .. lots of them.. right behind the stadium …

look closely, and you will see a little head checking out the world…

made it to the top!   That is Horsetooth Reservoir behind us… a 10 mile , narrow body of water that is filled with snow melt each year ( provided a good snowfall in the mountains)  and which provides lots of boating recreation in the summer as well as water for Fort Collins..

looking down at Fort Collins..  we are at the tippy top of the “A”  thus the white stones in the foreground..

After we completed the hike, we went in search of another pie place, but we were not successful.. instead, we stumbled into an amazing yarn shop..  folks were gathered around a table, knitting and chatting, while in another room people were weaving on small looms…  it was a totally cool shop- wish my daughter could come out and visit.. so much to show her.. this shop would be near the top of the list!

We then met Marilyn at her home and decided to conclude the day with dinner at El Burrito – a local restaurant with a longstanding reputation for authentic Mexican food..  what a treat that was!

This brings a fun-filled busy day to an end… stay tuned for day two!   jt
























The difference a day makes!

When we awoke this morning we were greeted to snow and howling wind.. it sure was cold compared with yesterday when we were treated to temperatures breaking 50 degrees and sunshine and blue sky!

We made the most of yesterday’s weather by hiking Dadd Gulch, a trail which begins just 2 miles down the road.   We have passed it numerous times on our way to other trails, but we discovered that this is our newest favorite!   The fact that local friends joined us made the experience all the nicer…  and their dog had a blast!

dadd gulch 1Janet and Lynn at the trailhead..  Sophie saying ” why are we standing here.. let’s go!”

dadd gulch 5We were warned that we would run into snow in the shady sections of the trail… the dog loved it… spent lots of time rolling in it…dadd gulch 4

I guess this is why it is a gulch!    some pretty steep sided sections of the trail…

dadd gulch 3some open areas as well…  we were pretty protected most of the way..

janet and me dadd gulch

took time for a photo… life is good in Colorado…

dadd gulch 2

headed back down , after hiking 3 miles in…   just a bit short of our goal, but we were quite satisfied with the experience and will revisit the trail again in a few weeks…

sunset 3-5-17

at the end of the day, we were treated to a beautiful sunset…  with just over a month to go before we leave this spot,  we have a lot to pack in…    stay tuned!     jt


Grey Rock


A beautiful day for a hike in Colorado,  and we found our best trail yet!   Grey Rock is located in the eastern section of the Poudre Canyon.   It is quite popular, in part, because it is one of the first trails that you run into after turning on rt  14, but even more so, because  it is simply spectacular.    The opening photo is the approach to the summit,  after about 2 miles of hiking…

The approach to the trailhead:


bridge across the Poudre River…


looking east from the bridge:


looking west from the bridge:


the climb:




from the summit:






Elevation is right around  7600  feet with an elevation gain of nearly  1900 feet.    We met some nice folks along the way…   and now we are enjoying  lunch at the Howling Cow Cafe… life sure is good in Colorado!

The Wind is Howling!

We have experienced a fair amount of wind during our first two months in Colorado, and we are told that this is typical for this time of the year.   Despite the blustery conditions, we got up this morning and headed to the Lady Moon Trailhead where we met Lynn, one of our hiking friends,  and Sophie, her dog…  Another incredible blue sky day..  The temperature was actually somewhat moderate… it is supposed to reach 60 degrees in Denver today, but the wind chilled things off a bit, particularly in the wide open area that was part of our hike.



We opted not to bring our snow shoes, but  we could have used them in some areas  where we headed off of the trail…  after spending time in the meadow, we returned to the trail and followed it upward…  We intersected with some other trails which we had seen before..  we are beginning to get a grasp for how  many of the trails we have been on are all connected together…it is nice to finally be forming a mental map of the area between Glen Echo where we are living and working and Red Feather Lakes…     We did not see any wildlife today, but  I am not sure if I posted a pic of this cow moose that we saw last week..


this was our second sighting of a moose in Colorado…  hopefully, many more to come!   jt

Bellaire Lake

We set out yesterday to explore an area that is new to us… Bellaire Lake –  in the same vicinity as Molly Lake, along Manhatten Rd on the way to Red Feather Lakes..  It was obvious that plenty of folks had been there recently .. the trail was easy to follow and is actually the access road during camping season.   We found both a camping area and a day use area when we made it to the lake.    It sure would be nice to come back here during the summer with our canoe!


After we returned to our car, we drove to the library at Red Feather Lakes, one of our favorite hangouts…  and got caught up on world events..  then we headed to Beaver Meadows where we thought we might get a bite to eat before heading back to Glen Echo.. but we found that they were closed  😦      All was not lost, however, on the way back, we witnessed an incredible sunset… I am afraid that my phone camera was not up to the task of capturing it, but I tried!



After a nice dinner at home, we rounded out the day by watching  both  “Steve Jobs”   and “A Walk in the Woods”    …   another wonderful day in Colorado!   jt


After a light snow,  we decided to return to the Molly Lake trail with our cross country skis.  We have read that there are far more sunny days here in Colorado than we are used to back in PA, and we are totally loving that aspect of life here in the mountains..   molly-lake-trail-2

We are getting much more comfortable heading out ourselves, particularly when our destination involves trails that we have visited before with some of our local friends..  the theme for this outing was the different animal tracks that we noticed in the new snow..  While it looks rather remote, and it is sometimes a challenge to find wildlife, the numerous tracks that we saw suggest that it is actually quite the busy area for local wildlife!





oops, those last ones are ours 🙂    We are a bit disappointed that the entrance to Rocky Mtn National Park is 100 miles away ( partly due to a road closure) … but we are finding that we can keep pretty busy in our own “back yard”  since we are practically surrounded by  national forest land..  what a great resource to have at our disposal!    jt

Moose Visitor Center – revisited


moose-visitor-center-snowshoe1This was our second visit to the Moose Visitor Center  – this time on snow shoes instead of skis, and we had the pleasure of sharing the experience with members of the Red Feather Library Hiking Group ( not sure of the official title, but this will work for  now) ..     This is a pic of Janet and our leader, Darlene as we headed out on the trail from the visitor center..  the ride over Cameron Pass to this location was spectacular, but we were so busy talking  with new friends that we did not think to stop to get out to take a photo!

moose-visitor-center-snowshoe2… the path ahead.. snow on either side of this trail was three feet deep..  we might have gotten away without the snowshoes on the path, but  it was wise to have them for the trip…

moose-visitor-center-snowshoe4..  members of the group waiting for the rest of us to catch up..   we  took a break to enjoy hot chocolate and snacks before turning back..  it was a grey day, but very comfortable..  there were some moose tracks along our path – presumably, the moose find it easier to walk on the path too!   But, another day has passed in Colorado  without a moose sighting… we will keep trying!

moose-visitor-center-snowshoe3 peering off into the woods along side the trail..  the landscape varies considerably in this area..  some heavily forested sections followed by rocky expanses with few trees leading into vast grazing lands….  no wonder there is such a variety of wildlife within a short distance of our home base at Glen Echo Resort..    All told, we did just under 4 miles…  great scenery, great company..  another wonderful day in Colorado 🙂    jt

Hewlett Gulch

We were headed into Fort Collins where we thought we might do a long walk, but we were prepared for anything, and along the way, we found that the lower elevations of the Poudre Canyon were no longer snow covered…  spontaneity is a great thing!   We decided to delay our arrival in Fort Collins and  tackle the Hewlett Gulch trail!hewlett-gulch-7

it is a popular trail, although there was just one other car in the parking lot when we arrived.   hewlett-gulch-5along the trail there are ruins from cabins where families lived many years ago…

hewlett-gulch-4the trail follows a creek through the valley.. lots of crossings.. some easier than others!   At one point, we decided to turn around, not quite feeling confident about a stream crossing that faced us, but only a minute or so after heading back, we happened across a young couple who had done the trail before, and they offered to show us the way..  we enjoyed their company for the next 20 minutes or so as we took their lead across the stream and continued on a bit.   Natalie and Simon are students at Colorado State College and have a fair amount of experience hiking in the Poudre Canyon.  It just so happened that I mentioned a book that I just finished about a couple who spent 6 years living on a Shanty Boat along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in the 1940’s… Natalie is interested in the book, so we traded information so that I could pass the book on to her next time we travel to Fort Collins..


We decided to head back to the trailhead before reaching the end of the hike so we wished Natalie and Simon luck and turned back..   as we retraced our steps, we ran into Caroline from Fort Collins who was hiking with her very well-behaved dog.. we stopped and conversed a bit, always eager to pick up tips from local hikers..


we talked about appropriate dress for this time of year.. Caroline informed us that her husband ran a used outdoor gear shop in Fort Collins..  we later visited the store..  quite a neat collection of stuff!


After saying good bye to Caroline, we made our way back to the trailhead.. enjoyed a snack in the car and headed into town … the highlight was finding some items at the Gearage and at some other thrift stores in town.. and then, of course, spending time at Mugs Cafe where we enjoyed a nice cup of tea and internet access..    what a great way to spend a day off!   jt


Libraries… who would have guessed?

As workampers,  we have experienced a renewed appreciation for libraries.  No longer the large quiet rooms filled with books and a few magazines we were introduced to as kids,  they have grown and adapted to changing lifestyles over the past few decades.  We were amazed with the facilities in Northeast and Southwest Harbors on Mount Desert Island in Maine… no stern librarians from the past there.. instead, we were welcomed by friendly staff, and we were encouraged to take full advantage of the programs that they offered during out stay as workampers at Mount Desert Campground.   I continue to receive  weekly emails from the Northeast Harbor Library, and we look forward to frequent visits there when we return to Maine in the spring.

One of the first things that Janet did when we arrived here in the Poudre River Canyon in Colorado was to look up local libraries.   She discovered one in the village of Red Feather Lakes,  a 20 minute drive along a dirt road that zigs and zags and climbs another 1000 feet in elevation ( with very few guardrails) .    Red Feather Lakes is a popular destination during the summer months, but there is not a whole lot to draw folks there at this time of the year..  there is a small general store, a hardware store, a couple of real estate offices,  and a library!

We were welcomed and given the grand tour when we visited last week,  and we met Darlene, a member of the staff who is in charge of the hiking club.. a library sponsored group.. just what we were hoping for.. the opportunity to meet folks in the area who believed that the way to survive winter was to get out and enjoy it!   Yesterday, we joined them for our first hike.  There were 8 of us (plus two dogs)  and  we discovered that we shared lots of similar interests from hiking, to music, to woodworking.. .

blue-sky-dowdy-lake-hikethe sky was blue for the most part, as we began the hike, although there were a few dark clouds to the west..  lake-dowdy-2our original destination was Mt Margaret, but we settled on a  final destination  of  Dowdy lake .. no more blue sky!lake-dowdyit is a bit difficult to tell from this photo, but the rock features,  some of which are in the middle of the lake, are quite interesting..  we were told that this is a great spot for kayaking..

janet-and-me-on-our-first-colorado-hikewe paused at the lake for some photos.. yup, that is my wife, Janet and me..   before tracing our footsteps back .. During the return leg,  we stopped for a break and for a wonderful treat of hot chocolate..  this is not the first outing that Darlene has led!

hot-chocolateshe was well prepared!     the dogs did not know what they were missing…

It is great that we were able to hook up with a group.. unlike the trails in Acadia, there were no blazes on the trees..   I guess that it is fairly easy to follow the trail when there is no snow, but it sure helped that we were with locals at this time of the year!   We look forward to spending time with these folks during our stay in Colorado…

what could possibly be more important than continuing with my summer summary? A wedding!!


this is no ordinary hike..   we were climbing the path to Cathedral Ledge,  located in N Conway , NH .. the venue for my son’s wedding..   we took the easy way.   Erik and Liz started the trek up the face of the mountain 2 hours earlier …


they were not alone.. it is a popular destination for climbers.  last fall, Janet and I watched a show containing aerial photography of New Hampshire which featured Cathedral Ledge.  I told her that I would take her there..  little did I know that I would fulfill that promise in this way!

we beat them to the top 🙂wedding-step-mom-of-the-groomjanet at the top of Cathedral Ledge..


father of the groom  ( that would be me 🙂  )   also at the top of Cathedral Ledge..  it was a warm day.. particularly for mid-october!


not long after we made it to the top.. Liz and Erik topped out… is there really any other activity that demonstrates the level of trust that marriage requires?


Erik and his sister, Alison, enjoying a light moment before the ceremony..  to the left are our dear friends, Vicki and Chris who lent support to Anne and me when the kids were born and who are now colleagues of Erik at  the Holderness School..   how time flies!    to the right is Chris, brother of Liz  who magically got certified to perform the wedding.. how cool was that!


this is the spread for the pre-ceremony snack..  one can’t simply climb Cathedral Ledge,  to a swift change and then get married..   🙂wedding-10-riley-the-ring-bearer

this is Riley, the ring bearer dog..  how cooperative she is!


the ceremony..  what a beautiful spot to share such a meaningful time..


the new married, couple…  gotta love those boots!    we sure are lucky parents to have gained Liz as a daughter  in law…wedding-6-house

we soaked up as much NH beauty as possible..  this is the house where we all stayed.. located in  Jackson NH,  a center for cross country skiing.. from the porch we had a wonderful view of Mt Washington..


The day after the wedding, Liz, Erik, Janet, and I climbed Doublehead..   elevation 3054 feet… a short distance from where we stayed.. this is the view from on top..  it was quite a climb, but a beautiful day… and the view made every step worthwhile!


on the drive back to Hebron, NH we stopped by the swift river ..  this is a shot taken just before we turned onto the Kancamagus Highway..   a drive that one should not miss if you find yourself anywhere near the white mountains…


taken from one of the many turn outs along the  “Kanc” ..    this area is national forest.. lots of campgrounds  in the area, as well as the opportunity to do primitive camping for free…  what a great recreational resource!


we packed a lot into a long weekend..  finishing off by meeting Liz and Erik for breakfast on our last day..  after that,  Erik took us for a short walk behind their house, down to the banks of the Pemigewassit  River..    how fortunate that he recently discovered the joy of fly fishing..

And now we are on our way back to PA.. for a second time in a week..   maybe a couple days of easy living are in store, before we tackle the question of..  what next?