Zapata Ranch

zapapta-18zapapta-2zapapta-1zapapta-11 zapapta-3zapapta-4zapapta-15zapapta-7 zapapta-6zapapta-8zapapta-10zapapta-9zapapta-17 On our way to New Mexico this past weekend, we stopped at Zapata Ranch, a dude ranch operation in Southern Colorado that borders the Great Sand Dunes. We finally had the chance to meet, Kate (@kateloveshorses) and Jessie (@owlfaceowlface), who both work on the ranch and have been Instagram friends for the past year. Always a treat to connect with digital pen pals! After we arrived, they saddled the horses and we had the great fortune of riding horseback through Medano Creek and into the dunes right at dusk–hands down one of the most amazing rides I’ve ever had. I was screaming and laughing with delight as we loped full speed through the sand. Later, we made tacos and drank whiskey by the fire.

The last couple of images are from Zapata Falls, just up the road from the ranch, where we hiked in before heading to Santa Fe for the week.

Flat Tops Wilderness: Part Two

FlatTops-part-two-5FlatTops-part-two-12FlatTops-part-two-v2-1FlatTops-part-two-v2-7FlatTops-part-two-v2-8FlatTops-part-two-v2-5FlatTops-part-two-v2-3FlatTops-part-two-v2-4FlatTops-part-two-11FlatTops-part-two-v3-1“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.”   Edward Abbey

What makes wilderness so special is that the only mode of transportation is by foot, giving the hiker unique access to raw, wild land, with minimal impact from humans. The Flat Tops Wilderness is the second largest wilderness in Colorado and was formed from volcanic basalt lava that flowed in the region and cooled millions of years ago. Over time, glaciation eroded the mountain range and formed their unique flat look. Geology is fascinating!

Devil’s Causeway is a narrow land bridge that gained its unique feature from two countering glaciers eating into the tough basalt rock from either side until almost meeting. The narrowest point of the trail is only 3 feet wide with a drop of hundreds of feet on either side, debilitating even the most seasoned hikers.

We intended to cross the Devil’s Causeway, continue to Causeway lake and connect with the trail creating a 10 mile loop. However, the approaching storm held us at bay, eventually forcing us to turn around and travel home the way we came. The trip out and back to the Causeway is only 6.5 miles and is now one of my favorite hikes in Colorado. We look forward to returning next summer for an extended backpacking trip.

You can see our fishing photos in the previous post, here

Flat Tops Wilderness: Part One

FlatTops-13FlatTops-1FlatTops-2 FlatTops-6 FlatTops-5FlatTops-7 FlatTops-8FlatTops-10FlatTops-12FlatTops-11FlatTops-9Last weekend we headed to the Flat Tops Wilderness in NW Colorado for four days of camping, hiking, fishing and being eaten alive by black flies. The Flat Tops are a unique range of mountains and is home to my now favorite hike, the Devil’s Causeway, a narrow land bridge with a sheer drop off of hundreds of feet on either side. Definitely, not for the faint of heart. I’ll post images of the hike in part two. Our first night, we fished the Bear River, a sweet little patch of meadow fishing below Stillwater Reservoir. I’m growing more confident with fishing and was able to practice my long casts and some roll casting. Fish didn’t take too much the first night, but any time on the river is a good time.

 

Grasslands

_MG_8466-9_MG_8430-1_MG_8584-7 _MG_8474-3_MG_8586-8 _MG_8521-4 _MG_8547-5On Sunday, we drove out to the Pawnee National Grasslands in Northeastern Colorado. The hike is easy and only around 4 miles round trip however, we detoured by exploring in the clay walled arroyos that skirt the Pawnee Buttes. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been heading into the mountains to catch the last of the Winter snow. Yesterday was nice to be in the more arid landscape reminiscent of New Mexico. We’d like to go back later in the Spring once the desert plants are blooming.

All images are taken with my Canon 5D 

Moffat Tunnel

IMG_2968Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with m5 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with g3 presetIt’s been a while since I posted. We’ve been gone almost every weekend during the month of March to make the most of the tail end of Winter. A couple of weeks ago, we ventured up to Moffat Tunnel, near Rollinsville, to hike in the snow. We didn’t bring snowshoes and were still able to hike 4 miles before we had to turn around because the trail became impassable. Between the blizzard and the pine trees draped in long strands of moss, the place reminded me of a forest from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.

All photos taken with iPhone 5