Turning Left on Two Feet: A bonus adventure

December 21, 2017

view from the lookout point

Today was forecast to be the last of the really warm and sunny days, so we took the opportunity to get out into the mountains for a hike instead of a bike ride.

Lookout point

We’ve climbed up to the lookout point before, but on the way back down we noticed a sign for the Devil’s Canyon trail which offered a new route back to the car (and made the walk nicely circular, which is always somehow important). In fact, we had tried the Devil’s Canyon trail before, but from the other end, and had failed because it appeared to lead you into a dead end. This seemed like a good opportunity to work out where the trail went.

Devil's Canyon

We had forgotten that places don’t get names like ‘Devil’s Canyon’ just on a whim. All was going well, despite some iffy bits on the trail where the snow had lingered and been compacted into ice, when the other half said ‘that bit where it turns into an icy waterfall is going to be interesting’

sheet of ice

He wasn’t wrong. We realised why we had always thought that trail ended in a dead end: it basically involves you clambering up through the same narrow gorge that any running water will be flowing down. Or not flowing, in this case, because it had frozen solid.

ice chute

Fortunately the drop was only about 10 feet or so, and the tree trunks caught up in it (whether by accident or design) formed enough of a ladder that we could get down with a mixture of descending and undignified-but-ultimately-controlled bottom sliding and only a few moments which felt like the opening sequences of an episode of Casualty.

Anyway, we made it unscathed, although I did wish I’d worn a proper pair of boots rather than my sneakers – and next time we might stick to the routes with nice welcoming names like the Tower Trail, and leave anything Satan’s had a hand in well alone.


Leave Only Footprints

December 15, 2015

View from Pueblo Mountain Park

firetowerWhat with one thing and another, we haven’t managed to get out and enjoy the mountains yet this trip but a window of opportunity opened up this morning and we got while the getting was good …

Our goal was one of our favourite lunch spots – the service is patchy, the choice is limited (to what you brought yourself, basically) but the views are fabulous. Although this time we didn’t lunch right at the top of the tower because of the wind. It was mostly gloriously sunny and warm, but every so often the wind would pour in and roar past us like a freight train, before dying down again. Very odd.

tracks in the snow

Apart from a couple of school outings, who stayed mostly on the lower slopes, we had the place more or less to ourselves and for much of our walk we had the pleasure of being the first (humans) to follow the trail since it snowed. I quite enjoyed attempting to interpret the various prints we did see but I don’t think anyone is going to be hiring me as their native guide any time soon.

squirrel tracks

me: ‘Oh how sweet! Squirrel! Boing boing boing!’

All in all, a very satisfying day’s outing


Committing Pedestrianism

May 24, 2015
Flight of pelicans

Blue skies (and scattered showers), palm trees and pelicans

So we made it to Southern California, bringing the rain with us, which I am told is a good thing, but also enough sunshine for it to have been unwise to visit the beach yesterday morning without any sunscreen. We’re not staying right on the coast (which is amazing if you look up – or out towards the ocean, but a bit depressing if you like your towns to be separated from each other by something other than a sign indicating the city limits) – but further in inland where, it turns out, despite the fact that our hotel is nestled in the bosom of the freeway, that right behind it is a bike path that runs along the creek, and would actually take us to the Historic Downtown (historic in that if there ever was a downtown, it’s now history).

The only problem is getting onto it

fenced off path

Top tip for bike path designers, fencing it off from most places (you can get on and off the freeway more frequently than you can this path) doesn’t exactly make for social safety, although at least this means that closing it at dusk is less of an inconvenience than it would otherwise be because there’s no way I’d use a path that’s fenced in like that after dark, especially given the very friendly but ever-so-slightly-sketchy looking people getting stoned under the bridge.

bike path closes at dusk sign

Still, it had its moments. And though the creek was no more than a concrete channel, also fenced off from the path, for some reason, there still was enough bird life* to make me wish I’d brought along my bird book and my binoculars for my post-breakfast constitutional. Or, indeed a bike.

flowers on the fence

And then we got into the car, and onto the freeway and went out to the park for a proper hike, like normal people.

hiking trail

Actually, that was pretty good too…

* Stilts, ibises, egrets, swallows, ducks, kildeer, and a couple of raptors, if you’re interested.


Lunch with a View

December 18, 2013

fire towerWe swapped biking for hiking today – although I made the mistake of dressing for the mountains in December, instead of, say, Miami. There’s a bit of a Chinook going on at the moment which means it’s unseasonably warm, even for here. There’s something very odd about picking your way along a snowy path while feeling as if you’re about to broil to death.

We’d stopped at a deli on the way to pick up sandwiches as big as our heads, so having climbed far enough and high enough to put a dent in the resulting calories, all we had to do was find a suitable picnic spot – somewhere with a view. Like the fire tower at the top of the trail…

With uninterrupted views of, well, everywhere, basically.

lunchtime_view2

lunchtime_view

I could get used to this. Actually, I may already have…

pine trees

snowy forest roads


More Walkies

August 17, 2008

muddy_shoes Having failed thus far in our attempts to find decent circular walks ourselves, yesterday we broke down and bought ourselves a book of local walks. Now, when choosing a walking book obviously what you want is good, clear descriptions of the walks written out in ways that make it impossible to get lost, but that’s kind of hard to callibrate in the shop. They always sound plausible enough, and then the next thing you know you’re in the middle of a muddy field surrounded by possibly hostile cattle, trying to parse out ‘Where a green track crosses, turn left then back right onto the descending path; there are some waymarks here, although not particularly helpful ones’ without actually wrecking your marriage. So, in the absence of anything else, I’ve taken to choosing my books of walks on the basis of whether they make me laugh, intentionally or otherwise (my favourite being the book of walks we had in the Canaries which couldn’t emphasise enough the importance of bringing a cardigan along with you. We never did fathom out why, although on the one walk we actually tried, it did get a little nippy in the higher bits). That way at least when you’re hopelessly lost and you’ve given up all hope of finding the car, you can while away your last hypothermic hours reading out the more amusing snippets to each other.

Anyway we ended up with one of these fine volumes and tried out one of the closer walks today. Mr Turnbull has a nice dry line in commentary (“Here various mindless vandals have carved their autographs into the sandstone. Mr Clarke of Oswestry carved his in 1879. Admire his stonecarving – mindless vandalism isn’t what it used to be a century ago.”) but the copy we had was published in 1999 and time had not been kind to some of his paths and landmarks (Mr. Clarke of Oswestry was still coming through loud and clear however). It was well worth it though and we found our way, despite my being clad in utterly the wrong shoes for the conditions. We even stumbled across this, in a hidden glade along the way:

lost_picnic_tables

Surely the legendary lost burial grounds of a vanished tribe of picnic tables…