Thursday, October 5, 2017

Highland Mary Lakes

We first attempted this hike in June, shortly after we moved to Durango. I would say we made it about a mile or two into the hike, and then decided to turn around. The snow was too deep. I was not the most pleasant of hike partners during that first attempt at Highland Mary Lakes. I did not plan to hike through snow, some areas still knee deep. Ryan decided our second attempt would happen in August, the snow would be melted. We had friends join us as well. It was the perfect Sunday afternoon. And no snow!

Taking a dip in one of the lakes. 

Sarah, Caroline, Cameron, and their dog Beasley. 

The rest of our photos from the hike can be found in the photo album:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Family Hikes...

During Ryan's month home, we plenty of outdoor adventures, or at least we did a lot in August. We knew when he returned home in October, it was going to be a bit too cool for hiking in some of the higher elevations.

Two hikes we did in August were, Engineer Mountain, and Cascade Canyon. We wanted to attempt Engineer Mountain because the elevation is almost 13, 000 feet and we wanted to test if I would have some of the same difficulties I had when we hiked our 14er. The top became extremely steep and rocky, Ryan was a bit nervous wearing Henry and climbing the last bit, we didn't summit, but we did find an awesome spot to sit, have a snack and take in the beautiful views.
Views from Engineer Mountain. 

The second hike started near Purgatory Ski Resort, and took us to Cascade Canyon. In the winter, the Durango, Silverton  Train makes trips to and from Cascade Canyon. Ryan and I were able to ride the train to Cascade Canyon back in February when we first visited Durango. The hike was a bit unusual, or at least different for us in that you actually descend during the first part of the hike to a meadow, cross a meadow, ascend in elevation, then descend again to the Animas River. It was a lot of ups and downs, but it was a beautiful hike. The only negative of the hike, Ryan commented, "I'm surprised we don't see more snakes while we are out hiking." Apparently the snakes heard the comment, and took it as a challenge. Plenty of snakes made themselves present, luckily, only small snakes, but it did not keep me from screaming, a lot.

Our final hike before Ryan left was with friends we met since moving to Durango. They are very active like us, and have a daughter 7 months older than Henry. It turned out to be an excellent adventure, for our second attempt at Highland Mary Lakes. Stay tuned for post.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Kennebec Pass Picnic

Our first bear sighting occurred during our second attempt at Kennebec Pass. We drove this pass earlier in the year (June?) but was unable to make it all the way to the top because of snow. Our second attempt, in August was successful, and the views were well worth it. It is incredible to think this beautiful landscape is our "backyard."

Ryan had the idea to pack up our dinner, and this adventure became our dinner and entertainment for the evening. Little did we know, the wildlife of the area would also be joining us. Fortunately, our bear sighting was while we were driving, and nowhere near our picnic sight, but a couple deer decided to check out what we were having for dinner.

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, dining on delicious food, and entertained by wildlife, what more could you ask for...

*And since I know Ryan will say, "You can have the same things when you go camping." I will add, and we didn't even have to camp for this wonderful experience. :)

Preparing dinner. The top of the Pass is at the look out point, the notched area on the top ridge.
Straight up, and slightly left of our picnic blanket.
The notch was man made, put there to make transport between mines in the area easier. 

A picture of a picture. With our deer friend watching. 

The picture I was taking.

Bear at the top of the Pass. 

Views from the top of the Pass. 

Another deer friend, checking out our dinner. 

Henry setting the "table."

The bear cub we spotted. He was busy turning over boulders, searching for food. We never saw Mama, but I knew she was close by. 

If you would like to see more from our family picnic, click on the link below:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Alpine Loop Part 2

Part 2 of our Alpine Loop adventure began on Engineer Pass. It would take us from Ouray to Lake City. As with the other passes, the views were amazing, and the drive was not too scary. Usually, I only get nervous when we are crawling over sharp boulders. I fear I am going to look out the window and see one of Bear's tires shredded. This pass was especially popular with Jeeps. We have seen Jeeps on every pass, but for some reason, maybe it was the day, we found ourselves in a line of close to 10 Jeeps.

Lots of Jeep Jeep love on Engineer Pass, no need to take a selfie. 

We arrived in Lake City and checked in at our lodging, Cannibal Cabins. Yes, you read that correctly. When Ryan began to plan the Alpine Loop trip, he asked how I felt about camping the entire time, I told him 2 nights was my limit. So, that left him to find lodging in Lake City.  Cannibal Cabins had availability, and the reviews were good. I could care less about the name, I wanted a shower and a toilet, indoors. But I did research Lake City, and I read about Alfred Packer, it all started to make since why Lake City has so many cannibal and Packer references.

Our main adventure while in Lake City was our first 14er climb. A 14er is a peak at or above 14,000ft. The U.S. has 96 fourteeners, and Colorado has the most of any state, 53. The San Juan Range, where we live in Southwest Colorado is home to 13 fourteeners. Uncompahgre Peak was our first 14er (elevation 14, 309ft), but will not be our last. 

I am not even going to try and sugar coat the experience, my first 14er climb was brutal, it was ugly, and at one point (actually, many, many, points) through out the hike, I vowed I would never climb another 14 er again. I am by no means an expert hiker, but something was wrong with me the day we hiked Uncompahgre. It was about 1.5 miles into the hike up, around 12, 500 feet, that I started feeling off. Dizzy, nauseous. I had never experienced altitude sickness before, but that's what Ryan and I believe happened. The higher I climbed, the worse it got, but in my true stubborn fashion, I refused to give up. I am so thankful the weather held out. That is one of the fears with hiking 14ers, the weather changes rapidly, and it is always a push to the top, so you can hike out before bad weather moves in. Mother Nature was on my side (about time since she always makes in rain when we camp), she made sure it did not rain or storm, and after a very long hike, I finally made it to the top. Ryan and Henry were already at the top. I had told Ryan to go ahead, summit, just in case I was not able to make it. 

Ryan and Henry at the summit. I was still somewhere along the climb up. 
Family Photo at the top. I do plan to attempt another 14er. Hopefully the next time, the experience will not be so dizzying or nauseating. 

After surviving the hike, we decided to take a recommendation from the manager of the cabins we were staying at and went on a moose hunt. Not literally, she told us of a place nearby that has frequent moose sightings. We were very fortunate to find 3 moose, and Henry greatly enjoyed the experience.

After two nights in Lake City, we said goodbye and began our last pass of the Alpine Loop, Cinnamon Pass. This pass would take us from Lake City to Silverton. Along the way, we passed American Basin, the location of two more 14ers, but we will have to save those hikes for a future adventure. 

American Basin

We arrived in Silverton at the perfect time. The train was still there, waiting to depart for its return trip to Durango. This was the first time Henry experienced the train in Silverton. I love Silverton! It is an incredible town, it's cute, it's small, the people are nice, it's just all around  my favorite place near Durango. My love for Silverton may have something to do with the fact it's the last town we see before many of our Jeeping and hiking adventures, and it's the first town we see after we survive our Jeep and hiking adventures. Avalanche Brewery is our go to place. The beers are fun, the pizza is delicious, it's the perfect place to relax after another Lang Family Adventure. 

At Avalanche Brewery in Silverton. 

We bought him a train whistle, of course he had to go blow his whistle at the train. All was fun and games until the train decided to blow it's whistle. :) Picture in the photo album. 

View of Silverton on our drive back to Durango. 

The rest of our pictures from the second part of our Alpine Loop Adventure:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Alpine Loop Part 1

I know, I know, it's been 2 months since I've posted. I frequently get the question, "When are you going to post again?" Well, it's not an excuse, but all I can say is, I went camping, again....

No, I have not been camping for the last 2 months, that would be ridiculous, anger would have reached an entirely new level, lives would have been lost, I went camping for 2 nights, my maximum duration for any camping trip. During Ryan's last month off, we explored the Alpine Loop.

You do not know what the Alpine Loop is? No need to worry, I didn't know either until Ryan suggested the trip, and I did a bit of research. Here's a good link:

We split the drive into two parts. We started just outside Silverton and drove Black Bear Pass to Telluride. Black Bear Pass is supposedly one of the most difficult, scariest 4WD trails in Colorado, but I didn't think it was bad. Maybe it was Bear's (our Jeep) awesome capabilities, or Ryan's awesome driving skills, either way, I would say other passes were scarier. The thing I enjoyed most about this trail was that it is one way, thank goodness, because for me, the scariest thing about the 4WD trails in the area is when you have a vehicle coming at you and you need to navigate around each other without tumbling off the side of a mountain. I also enjoyed the views of Telluride. Black Bear Pass, checked that off the Colorado 4WD Bucket List.
Family Photo at the top of the pass. 

Can't leave Bear out. His obligatory trail photo, with Telluride in the background.

We stopped in Telluride for lunch, made our obligatory visit to Telluride Truffle (super delicious chocolates), let Little Man run around and expend some energy, then it was back into Bear for the start of our second pass, Imogene Pass. This pass takes you from Telluride to Ouray. Again, I didn't think the pass was too scary. Maybe I am finally becoming immune to all the crazy trails Ryan takes me on. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit rainy, but fortunately, Henry took a nap. We came out at the end of Imogene Pass to the "Switzerland of America" the town of Ouray. This would be the location of my latest camping experience. 

It's a bit rainy, but see the zigzag trail coming down the mountain (center of the picture, look to the left of waterfall) that is Black Bear Pass, the switchbacks that take you down the mountain, into Telluride.

If you remember anything about my first camping experience, we arrived and set up camp in the rain. Guess what folks, Mother Nature keeps telling me not to go camping. We arrived at the campground, and you guessed it, it was raining, again. Comparing my first and second camping experiences, Ryan and I have come to the conclusion, the first hour or two of camping, I am mean, I am in a bad mood, I complain, but then, you get some food in me, a little bit of adult beverage and I am good. I start to settle in, and not think so negatively of camping. Ironically, that is also about the time the rain stops. 

I enjoyed the campsites, they were more spread out, among the trees, so you could not see another tent. I was worried the remoteness of the campsites would lead to more bears, and luckily we did not have a bear visit our campsite, but one did visit our neighbor's. During the middle of the night, I heard someone yelling and assumed there was a bear somewhere near by. Knowing I was in a tent, and pretty much out of luck if the bear decided to come visit our site and tear into our tent, I decided my best option was to roll over and make sure my face was not directly next to the tent's side, it seemed logical at the time. The next morning we talked with our neighbor and he showed us the destruction, the Bear slashed through their mesh tent they had set up over their picnic table. Apparently a couple of his children left ham sandwiches in their backpacks, ham sandwiches will do that. The backpacks were never located. 

I always make sure I have one picture of me from camping. Proof, documentation I actually went camping. One thing I have figured out, I make gourmet meals before we go camping, freeze them, and then all we have to do is heat them up on the camping stove or campfire. So even if I am living out in nature, I am still eating really good food. If you need camping meal recipes, let me know, I have some delicious ones. 

View from our campground, looking down at Ouray. 

Part of me hoped Henry would not like camping, but he loves it, his Dad loves camping, so therefore I will continue to camp. 

While camping in Ouray we hiked up to Grizzly Bear Mine. It was a good hike, nice and scenic, the mine at the end of the hike was not as impressive as I expected, but let's be honest, it's a mine, probably 100+ years old, and miles into the forest, it's not going to be some big metropolis. The hiking along the edge of the mountain added to the excitement and made the hike memorable. After any good hike, and especially for Ryan carrying our concrete block of a child, we earned a trip to Ouray Brewery. 

Our little hiker in training. Henry usually hikes the first part of each hike. It's our way to wear him out and make him want to get in the hiking backpack. 

Family photo in the ski gondola at Ouray Brewery. 

The next day we began our second part of the Alpine Loop, we would take Engineer Pass to Lake City. 

If you wish to see the remaining pictures, click on the link below:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Good. The Bad. The Embarrassing.

I fell off my bike last week. Just when I was starting to feel like a local, biking all around town, I fall off my bike. No worries, no one was hurt, just my pride. Henry and I were out on our regular evening bike ride, searching for the train. We were a bit early, so I was biking along the trail, and decided at one point to turn around.....on a hill. Bad idea. Turning around on an incline, with a toddler chariot attached to your bike does not go well. The bike tipped over, I fell off, but Henry was safe in his chariot, simply crying because I caused him to drop a few Goldfish crackers.

The toddler in his chariot, telling me where to go.

Choooo, choooo
With the embarrassing out of the way, let's talk about the bad. Two things are bothering me about life in Durango.

-No Target. I went from living 5 minutes away from a Target, to now being 50 minutes away. I think I have finally detoxed myself of Target, some days were difficult, but I am good. I told myself not to drive the 50 minutes until I was fully prepared to accept living so far away. I have yet to visit Target.

-The lack of Jeep Jeep love. When you drive a Jeep (Wrangler only) other Jeep (Wrangler only) drivers will wave at you. It's like some Jeep bond, I refer to as Jeep Jeep Love. Well, we moved to Durango and there are Jeeps everywhere! But, no Jeep Jeep Love. I wave, no response. It finally got to the point I stopped waving. I decided this was completely unacceptable. I would start waving, knowing I would get no Jeep Jeep Love. Well, I have come to the conclusion, Jeep Jeep Love is only reciprocated among Jeeps that have been altered, lifted, winch attached, doors removed, something that differentiates a regular Jeep from a customized Jeep. My theory seems to be correct because each time I send Jeep Jeep Love to another customized Jeep, the love is returned. And I am completely aware, referring to this as Jeep Jeep Love negates the manliness. :)

Now on to the GOOD! Henry and I have been exploring our new home. Many, many, many days include visits to see the train. If you do not like trains or have some fear of trains, you probably shouldn't visit. To change it up, we watch the trains from various locations, sometimes it is while having dinner at a couple different restaurants that have great views of the train tracks, other times it is on the bike, biking somewhere along the trail (hopefully not falling off the bike, again), visiting one of the playgrounds that has great train views and sometimes the weather seems to not cooperate, so we drive Bear to one of the viewing spots. Either way, we check out the train, A LOT!
At one of our favorite train watching restaurants, celebrating my birthday.
Little Man likes to "Cheers" our drinks (only water in his drink cup).

All is calm until we hear the train horn. 

View of the train from our dinner table. 


Listening to the bands play on the 4th of July, and of course, waiting for the train. 

Henry decided he did not like the previous train viewing location, so we biked to a different location and did a bit of hiking to get this view. 

We even saw the Firetruck. Coal burning, steam train, mixed with very dry conditions makes for lots of small fires along the tracks. The firetruck follows the train and puts out any fires that may start. 

Not sure if it is the same deer every time, but this deer is almost always here when we are out on our evening bike ride. 
I decided to go for a hike. Henry was in school, so I didn't have to worry about carrying him.
We will leave that hard job for Ryan. ;)
Views from the top of Animas Mountain. 

Looking at Main Street. 

Sunday morning bike rides. The gym daycare is closed on Sundays so Henry and I go for long bike rides around town. Check out the river, visit a few playgrounds, explore. 

I told him to go put his shoes on. He decided Dad's shoes would work for the day. 

Hanging out at the splash pad. 

Feeding the fish. Durango has a fish hatchery and you are able to feed the fish. Henry loved it! I think this may become a regular activity as well, or at least until they release all the fish for the year. 

Luckily he did not try to jump in the water, but there is always a future visit.
I don't underestimate his abilities. I keep a hand ready to grab him. 

One of the best parts of all.....
The site of our new home. The house plans have been finalized. We will break ground next month!
The boulders were delivered for use in our back courtyard. Ryan and I are really excited about the new house!
Stay tuned for more adventures and updates on our new home! :)