Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sylvan Lake State Park

We are huge fans of seeking out the lesser-known places that have fewer visitors than the national parks, and in that vein we continued our journey ever westward to our next stop at Sylvan Lake State Park.  Another gem in the Colorado state park system, Sylvan Lake was a wonderful place to spend a week--beautiful scenery, including the solid beginning of the  fall color season, great hikes, a lovely and quiet campground and a little town nearby for our weekly coffee shop fix. Who could ask for anything more!

Sylvan Lake is set in the beautiful Eagle Valley south of the town of Eagle and is just out of the way enough to not be very crowded.  There was good fishing on the lake and a nice loop trail around it. We ventured off into the adjacent national forest for a hike to Nolan Lake and saw gorgeous valleys alive with yellow aspens along the way. I came across a large bull moose on one hike when Lynnae unfortunately wasn't with. We had to slow down a bit with zero internet or cell access, but this lovely place made it worthwhile!

Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake
Double rainbow over our campground
Nolan Lake in nearby Holy Cross Wilderness
Nolan Lake
View up the Eagle Valley toward Sylvan Lake
Fall color in the aspens is just beginning!
I gave this moose a wide berth,  They get mean in the fall!
Sylvan Lake
Sylvan lake
Beautiful colors!
Yeoman Park is a valley near Sylvan Lake

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dillon Lake Again and a High Mountain Adventure!

It has not happened often in our travels so far that we have visited the same place twice. When we left Dillon Lake in early August to go pick up our new trailer, we felt like we left a few things undone and having a five-day gap in our plan between Rocky Mountain National Park and Sylvan Lake, we decided to go back to Dillon and hang out a bit. We stayed in a different campground, closer to the lake, and again enjoyed the wide-open mountain views, the charming mountain towns of Frisco, Breckenridge, Silverthorne and Dillon. The highlight of the stay, however, was our climbing our first 14er!

Mt. Democrat is one of the easier 14,000-foot mountains to climb in Colorado, but for us it was still a big effort, and so worth it in the end. It was over 2,100 feet of elevation gain and when you start at 12,000 feet, the air gets pretty thin! The trip is covered pretty well on the Outdoor Project site, so check that our, but here are some highlights of our adventure.

The start of the trail with the peak of Mt. Democrat looming above
Our starting point was Kite Lake, visible in the lower left of this shot
It was terrifically windy on the saddle between Mt. Democrat and Mt. Cameron
The climb up from the saddle was rocky and very steep
At the top
Looking south from the peak at 13,000-foot mountains all around
Beginning the long hike down, Mt. Cameron ahead (saving that one for another day!)
Almost down to Kite Lake and our truck

Climbing Mt. Democrat was great, but we did do a few other things while at Dillon Lake.

View of Dillon Lake from the Old Dillon Reservoir trail
This bike path goes around the whole lake--18+ miles
Sapphire Point is a short hike with great views

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.  This huge wilderness park just a few hours from half the population of Colorado is a popular and busy place in the summer. Much of the park is shut down for 8 months of the year due to its extreme elevation and brutal climate.  During the summer and early fall, it is worth it to brave the crowds in order to experience the incredible scenery and wildlife of this magnificent park.

We spent two weeks at RMNP, one week near Estes Park, the town near the main entrance, and one week down at the quieter northeast corner of the park. We were thrilled that Lucas could spend a few days with us between legs of his round-the-world tour and we got in some great hiking. Much of the park is inaccessible to cars, but amazing scenery that the few roads into the heart of the park reveals is magnificent. We did hikes up in the alpine elevations above the tree line, including a small (for Colorado) peak at 12,150 feet. We hiked into valleys with deep blue lakes set at the base of stunning mountains. We saw a bear, many elk (including some literally next to the trail we were on), mountain goats and bighorn sheep. We didn't get to many of the more popular places in the park and I know we will be back some day.  Some of our favorite hikes are well-documented on the Outdoor Project website, so check out these links to my articles there:

From Old Fall River Road
Alpine cirque near on of three passes on the old park road
Bighorn sheep taking a breather
Alpine Ridge Trail at 12,005 feet
The Loch, at the base of towering mountains
The Loch
Hiking up to Peak 12,150
Made it to the top of Peak 12,150!

The view goes on forever

View of the Continental Divide from Ute Trail
Cub Lake
Cub Lake
We were so close to this herd of elk!
Elk in Moraine Park
Crossing Ouzel Creek
First signs of fall color 
Three Sisters Peaks, view from near our campground
Lily Lake and impressive Longs Peak, the source of the Colorado River
Ouzel Falls was a beautiful hike with many tumbling cascades
Ouzel Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Now Officially a Professional Photographer

I have been a contributor to the Outdoor Project for much of 2015 and it has been a great experience. I have gained invaluable experience in travel photography and writing, and had the opportunity to see my work up on a professional and, frankly, kick-ass web site.  Earlier this summer they contacted me about doing some directed work in Colorado under contract. So now I am officially getting paid to take pictures and write up our adventures in the Colorado Rockies!  I won't get rich, but my photography habit is now paid for and I can now change my occupation on next year's tax return from "retired" to "photographer".