Thanksgiving Break 2014: Golden

Thankfully, we get a whole week off in Ridgway for Thanksgiving. This break was totally needed! Since I had a flight out of Denver on Thanksgiving morning (!) I decided it made a lot of sense to just head over to the Front Range right away and relax rather than working on the house. This turned out to be such a good decision. Both Sprocket and I were so ready to hit the road when school got out on Friday!

Beth on the road

Sprocket

I’d planned to get to Aleya’s house and promptly go to sleep. This didn’t happen, but that was a-okay with me.

Golden, Colorado

Turbodown twins

The next day, I relaxed a little bit at Aleya’s place, did some climbing with her roommate at Earthworks, had lunch at Mountain Toad brewery, made dinner at her place, and then headed back to Mountain Toad with Sprocket for a night cap.

Sprocket

Earthworks

Mountain Toad Brewery

Thanks so much Aleya (and your friends!), I had a blast.

Denver Area “Peakbagging”

One of my 2015 goals is to complete 50% of the Colorado County Highpoint list. To help me reach that goal, I decided to use some of this time on the Front Range to knock out the metro-area county highpoints. There wasn’t too much exciting about any of the four that I grabbed (the same goes for the three county prominence peaks as well) but they’re checked off the list!

Denver County’s high point is found in the middle of a busy road surrounded by strip malls. It’s not one of the prettiest places I’ve been so Sprocket and I took our photo op crouched next to the road focusing on the fluffy clouds in the sky instead:

Denver County Highpoint

Next up was Araphaoe County. Located in a subdivision, this one at least had better views:

Smoky Hill Ridge

 

Not my most adventurous hike:

Arapahoe County Highpoint

I made one more stop before calling it a peakbagging day, and hit the Adams County highpoint. Located on the edge of a corn field with jets flying over head into DIA, I kind of liked it in a weird sort of way:

Adams County HighpointThe next day, I decided to head out again and get the last metro county highpoint and three county prominence points. First up was Inspiration Point, Denver County’s prominence peak:

Inspiration Point Park

Inspiration Point

Then it was off to very windy Broomfield County Highpoint (I blame my squintyness on the wind):

Broomfield County Highpoint

 

Next it was off to Broomfield County’s prominence peak, West Morgan Hill:

Hyland Hill

And then I rounded my adventure off with a drive through a neighborhood to get as close as I could to to Adams County’s prominence point, Hyland Hill. I was too chicken about being sketchy in the neighborhood to take a photo…

 

While not my most exciting peakbagging adventures ever, it brought me to 11/64 county highpoints and 6/64 county prominence peaks in Colorado!

Thanksgiving 2014: Connecticut Peak Bagging

Thanksgiving morning I headed for the airport bright and early. After grabbing a spot in the second to the last row of the economy parking, I watched the sunrise from inside the DIA terminal and let myself feel a little bit sad that I wouldn’t be watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with some coffee and Bailey’s. All things considered, I was super excited to be headed to see Lucy and Franz get married and have a bit of an adventure.

DIA sunrise

Adventure? In Connecticut?

Yeah, I’d decided since I was spending all the money on a plane ticket and rental car that I might as well create a bit of a challenge for myself. I decided that I would try to hit all eight Connecticut pseudo-county highpoints along with the wedding in the 48 hours I’d be in the state. (They’re pseudo-counties because Connecticut dissolved them as governing bodies in 1960.)

After landing at Bradley, I got my rental car and immediately headed for South Johnson Hill, the highpoint of Hartford county. I arrived at the trailhead around 6pm, donned my headlamp, put on my snowpants, and headed out for a dark and snowy walk. The quiet and peacefulness was really appreciated after a long day of travel. (Seriously, this post can be summarized as “snowy selfies.”)

Summit of South Johnson Hill

I’d been pretty lucky with my travel plans as the state had gotten pretty hammered with a big winter storm the day before. The storm had left a lot of people without power as trees lost branches. As I walked back to my car, I saw flashing lights near the trailhead. Initially, I was pretty sure that I was going to be ticketed for parking at the end of the road even though it was clearly plowed out as a trailhead parking area. Turns out it was just a power company truck fixing some lines.

As I drove towards the trailhead for Mt. Frissell, I started looking for food. At about 7pm on Thanksgiving night in rural Connecticut (and Massachusetts) I wasn’t really sure what I would find. Fortunately, I located a Dunkin’ Donuts and snacked on a bagel and cream cheese as I continued out to the trailhead. It occurred to me that there was a good chance that the snow would be more than I wanted to tackle without boots or snowshoes but I put the decision off until morning. Once I arrived at the trailhead, I crawled into the back of my rental car and got to sleep.

 

Car sleeping

In the morning, I got out of the car to investigate the conditions. It was a really hard decision to make but faced with four mile postholing hike without appropriate footwear when I had a wedding that promised a fair amount of awesome dancing coming up that night I decided it was best if I put aside my adventure goals to be sure I was more fresh for the real point of the trip: the wedding.

Deep snow

 

I headed out for the next high point in Fairfield County. The drive took me into New York State and was absolutely gorgeous. It was a bright, bluebird winter day and cruising around and seeing the small towns was making me so happy.

Welcome to New York?

Winter driving The Fairfield County Highpoint:

Fairfield County Highpoint

From there it was off to the Southwest Lindsley Peak Hills of New Haven County:

Southwest Lindsley Peak Hills

 

After that quick jaunt, I decided I had time to squeeze in Middlesex County’s Bald Hill Range. It created a little backtracking for the next day but I was worried about time before catching my plane. I’m so glad I did. Friday had better weather than Saturday and it was a gorgeous walk through the woods!

Trail to Bald Hill Range

Bald Hill Range

Then it was wedding time! After a quick sponge bath in a McDonalds bathroom (seriously, I guess I’m still a dirtbag at heart), I made myself presentable and headed out to celebrate with my friends. Congratulations you two. You’re an adorable, awesome couple. And you threw one heck of a dance party.

Franz & Lucy Wedding

I got a late start the next morning. Since I’d already blown the goal of hitting all the highpoints for the weekend, I figured it was way more important to spend some more time relaxing at Lucy’s parents with the newlyweds and their families. After a leisurely morning, I drove off to Gates Hill, a rather unimpressive roadside stop:

Gates Hill

I reasoned I had time for one last stop, Windham County’s Snow  Hill. I wasn’t sure what the snow conditions would be like and if I’d be able to drive my rental car up near the summit. As it turned out I had to park near the highway and hike a mile each way. I start to get antsy on days that I’m flying about getting to the airport on time and it was reaching that point. I started up the rutted icy road fretting a bit about making this happen. I decided that my mood would be drastically improved if I turned it into a bit of a run. I was wearing my TurboDown so I’m sure that my plane-mates for the rest of the day didn’t really appreciate it but sometimes you just need to go for it!

Snow Hill

All in all, I made it to the wedding, danced my face off, and got 6 of 8 county highpoints. I’ll be back for that slope point on Mt. Frissell and also for little Burley Hill!