Long Lake

Destination: Long Lake, Roosevelt National Forest

Date: 8/27/2017

Time of Day: 9:00 am start

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 4.3 miles (total)/~180 feet/Easy

Time Elapsed: 180 minutes.

Comments: This was a beautiful hike that was even more enjoyable since we were hiking with friends. Based on their advice, we arrived at 9 am in the Brainard Lake parking lot. The Long Lake lot was already full and the ranger said a 6 – 6:30 am arrival was needed to ensure a spot in the Long Lake lot! This is not happening with Alex. Starting at the Brainard Lake lot added 1.5 miles round trip to our 2.8 mile hike, so be prepared to for a longer walk. The Long Lake Loop is also known as the Jean Lunning Loop.

Alex did great and hiked approximately 3.5 miles (out to the trail, the trail, and was carried from the trail head to the parking lot). In general, the trail is smooth and wide. There are some wooden bridges above swampy sections, but they are very sturdy. Leashed dogs are welcome and all pups we encountered were very well behaved. Alex dipped his toes in the lake and confirmed it was cold. Despite the chilly, he had a great time wading in the lake.

Would we return? Definitely. The road up to the recreation area is good and there is a campground. We hope to bring Abby up soon for a long weekend so we can get an early start and go on longer day hikes. Another option we look forward to is taking a picnic to Brainard Lake – no hiking, just Alex splashing in the water.

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Rainbow Lakes, Attempt 2

Destination: Rainbow Lakes, Roosevelt National Forest

Date: 8/13/2017

Time of Day: 9:45 am start

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 2.6 miles (total)/~396 feet/Easy

Time Elapsed: 180 minutes.

Comments: This is the second time we hiked (or tried to hike this trail). Our first hike was almost two months ago, the first weekend that the trails and campground was open. It was a madhouse. This weekend was much quieter: we were able to get a parking spot in the trail head lot, campground was not full, and there were fewer people dispersed camping along the road to the trail head.

We were actually hiking at 9:45. Out of the house by 9:15 and the road was much improved compared to two months ago. It seems like gravel was brought in and a road grader touch the surface to help reduce the bone rattling drive. We would actually think about bringing Abby up the road (if poor Abby was in running condition).

As with our first trip, the trail is still poorly marked and the multitude of social trails just add to the challenge. Following the trail was easier this time with the snow fields melted away and down trees cleared. We clearly saw where we lost the trail on our first hike and where the trail went. It is no wonder we lost it, two months ago it was covered with snow. With the snow gone it was little more than a goat path through some rocks.

As the trail heads down to the second lake, there is an option to take the second switch back and go to the lake shore, or continue on straight towards the third and fourth lakes. The distance between lake 1 and 2 is very close, it is a longer hike from lake 2 to 3, and lakes 3 and 4 are adjacent. There is a fifth lake close to lake 4, but we did not pick out the trail to head that way.

While we were dipping our toes in the frigid water of lake 2, fellow hikers shared the report of a moose sighting in lake 4. Alex, who desperately wants to see a moose, led the way. Unfortunately, we arrived at the lake after Mr. Moose had gone home to take a nap. According to Alex, Mr. Moose is a fan of Thomas the Train and was going to watch Thomas after his nap.

Alex was in a hiking mood and hiked the entire trail out and back. A great little trooper. This took us 3 hours to do the full loop (and we foolishly though we walked close to 2.6 miles the first time. Ha!). Considering the size of rocks Alex had to clamber over and that we stopped to dip our toes in a frigid lake, 3 hours was a good pace.

Ah, college kids: About 1/10 of a mile shy of the trail head, we saw a group of college kids heading up to the lakes to fish. One kid carrying a half dozen poles, another kid with a bucket, a couple kids carrying food/camp chairs, and the two poor souls at the end lugging up a cooler. Filled with ice (and beers?)? These poor souls thought the lake (and only one lake) was much closer to the parking lot than the 3/4 of a mile they had in front of them.

Other observations: Mushroom hunters! We saw several people carrying buckets and looking for mushrooms. When asked, one person said that it wasn’t the most successful forage she has ever done.

Would we return? Definitely. It was so much easier the second time around without the snow on the ground. It would be nice to find the fifth lake and perhaps see the moose. One should note, that these are small ‘lakes’ (ponds really). So if expectations are along the size of the Great Lakes, disappointment will abound.

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Deck: Reassembly Part 3

The deck is heading towards the home stretch! Part 2 of the deck reassembly covers many of the repairs (and then some) that the upper deck needed. New band board was put in along with joist hangers (that were nailed appropriately).

What was truly revolutionary were the StairLok stair brackets (purchased from Deck Superstore). Trex does not recommend an unsupported span greater than 16 inches for their product, which is an awful narrow stair. Our stair widths were 36 (lower to upper deck) and 40 inches (ground to lower deck). After some research, we opted for StairLok because they are easier to build, stronger, and use less material than traditional stair building methods. The gallery describes the process for building the stairs.

Preparation: Remove decking, watch rotten post fall away when railing is removed (see Demo post part 3)

Critical Tools: Stairs – carpenter’s square, screw gun, StairLok brackets, 2x4s, screws, chop saw, tape measure

Decking – Healthy amount of patience, well developed curse word vocabulary, screw gun, clamps, jig saw, circular saw, railing jig, level, nail gun, level, tap measure

Skill Level: Advanced/Expert. If you don’t know what you are doing, things will get ugly.

Tip(s): Check the step frame with a carpenters square. The brackets have a tendency to rack. Confirming that the stairs are square saves a ton of headache during the install.

Use a stop block when numerous pieces that same size need to be cut. Check to make sure the block hasn’t slid at regular intervals in the cutting process.

Set up an assembly line: pre-cut all the stair frames and cross bracing. Then start building. Nothing slows a process down like having to constantly switch tools.

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Deck Demolition: Part 3

With demolition parts one and two complete, along with the subsequent reassembly (one and two), the focus is fully on the stairs to the hot tub pad and the decking around it. Any hope that just perhaps this section of decking was done correctly was quickly lost. It was quickly evident that if this deck had been built in a more humid environment, it would have rotted away a dozen years ago. Even with the low humidity in Colorado, rotten spots were still found. Three cheers to the dry Colorado air. Enjoy the gallery of face palming construction decisions by a previous owner.

Critical Tools: Circular saw, pry bar, hammer, drill, pliers, knee pads, Sawzall, end of day margaritas.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Tip(s): Don’t use scrap wood to build a deck. Even if the scraps are a ‘good deal’.

The spacing between decking boards allows water to drain and air to circulate. Without the air circulation, the chances for rot are greatly increased.

Choose two of the three – good, fast, or cheap. Previous owners chose fast and cheap. Don’t be like the previous owners.

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Caribou Ranch and Aspen Alley

We actually extracted ourselves from the deck project and went hiking – Saturday and Sunday this week!

Destination: Caribou Ranch, Boulder County Open Space

Date: 7/21/2017

Time of Day: 10:30 am start

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 4.2 miles (DeLonde out and back + Bluebird loop)/~340 feet/Easy (DeLonde) & Moderate (Bluebird)

Time Elapsed: 120 minutes.

Comments: This is an enjoyable and easy hike with bucolic mountain pastures and stunning mountain vistas. The rain amplified the Ponderosa Pine aroma. It was easy to imagine cows and horses grazing in the mountain meadows. Just stunning.

The DeLonde trail is rather easy trail. Narrow in some spots, but not excessively rocky and minimal tree roots. It passes through stands of Ponderosa pines and Aspen. About half of the DeLonde trail is on the old Switzerland (ran from Boulder to Ward) narrow gauge railway line and was quite wide and smooth. A pretty easy hike to the DeLonde homestead.

Read more about the Caribou Ranch recording studio. In the ’70s and ’80s some of the most famous albums in rock history were recorded nearby.

The Bluebird Loop from the DeLonde homestead is initially narrow and rocky. After the mine spur turn off, the trail opens up (likely due to the return to the narrow gauge railway bed) and is very easy to walk on.

Our herd of turtles start cost us during the hike. We got caught in a late morning rainstorm. Alex was a trooper and did about 2.5 miles of the entire hike. But the rain pushed him over the edge. As Jess was piggy backing him out the last 1.5 miles, he sounded like a little gremlin growling.

Caribou Ranch Gallery

Destination:  Aspen Alley, West Magnolia Recreation area

Date: 7/22/2017

Time of Day: 10:30 am start

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 2.6 miles/462 feet/Easy

Time Elapsed: 60 minutes.

Comments: We last visited Aspen Alley over Mother’s Day. Since our last visit, the Aspens are in full leaf and the clear cut areas were full of wild flowers. This hike we found the right trail through Aspen Alley. We also remembered not to go down 926B, since it was a more difficult hike to get back to the car.

Aspen Alley hiking route.

Aspen Alley Gallery

Deck: Reassembly Part 2

So now that we have discovered the extent of the poor workmanship on the deck framing, it is time to repair the hazards and make this deck safe. Replacements included rotted support beams, an undersized beams, and improperly cantilevered joists. It is likely that the framing was not constructed fully from pressure treated lumber.

Check out the gallery captions for the nitty gritty details. Check out deck reassembly post 1 for information regarding the Trex installation. No Trex RainEscape here.

Preparation: Remove decking, curse at the unknown person(s) who built this portion of the deck

Critical Tools: Healthy amount of patience, well developed curse word vocabulary, screw gun, clamps, jig saw, circular saw, railing jig, level, nail gun, level, tap measure

Skill Level: Advanced/Expert. If you don’t know what you are doing, things will get ugly.

Tip(s): Step back to help see the forest for the trees. Some challenges are easily solved once it is determined the perceived problem does not affect the end goal.

Take the time to plan everything out. This will save so much trouble down the road.

Don’t go cheap on the materials. This is not the place to be a penny pinching skin flint. Don’t purchase your materials for some guy selling scraps of wood out of the back of his pick up. Buy real lumber. Pressure treated lumber.

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Deck Demolition: Part 2

With Part 1 of the deck demolition and rebuild complete, we get to see what structural disasters are hidden in part 2. How can we be so confident that this portion of the deck is not structurally sound? The most visible symptoms is the drooping corner and the improperly cantilevered boards.

Once the decking came off, the situation was worse than originally thought. Check out the gallery below for great pictures of rotted boards and improperly done construction. This deck was permitted and it is hard to believe it passed inspection, a score and four years ago. It is amazing the deck didn’t collapse long ago. Time to do things right and repair this shoddy work.

Demolition went quickly using technique 3 described in the first demolition post. Tips described in the previous post also apply here.

Critical Tools: Circular saw, pry bar, hammer, drill, pliers, knee pads, Sawzall, end of day margaritas.

Skill Level: Intermediate

Tip(s): Don’t step on boards that have been cut with the circular saw. This will result in a painful trip through the deck.

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