Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ft Collins - Greyrock Trail

On Sunday we hiked the popular Greyrock Trail. This trail is also in the Roosevelt Forest and the trailhead is off of Hwy 14 in the Poudre Canyon. We were nervous that it might be packed, being Labor Day Weekend, but fortunately it wasn't that bad. The loop we took was 7.25 miles, with an elevation change of over 2,000 feet, and somehow it took us 6 hours to do this hike. That's pretty slow, even for us! But it was so beautiful along the way with so many scenic overlooks, I think we stopped more than usual. We ascended via the Summit Trail which is 2.2 miles and is considered the "steeper" route. The hike through a pine forest opened up to rocky outcroppings and large boulders the higher we ascended. View along this portion were to the mountains in the west. When we reached a plateau, our goal of summiting "Greyrock" became quite apparent. From this point, the 3/4 mile trail was a scramble up the rock to the tippy-top of that large grey mass behind me. It was hard to keep track of the trail itself (since the USFS probably only used 4 posts to mark the way). Cairns, small stacks of rocks, helped mark the trails that others have used before us. But it didn't really matter, as long as you continued heading straight up, and not over the south-side which was a sheer drop.
The views were spectacular. Here's the view looking east - you can see the foothills and in the distance the city of Ft Collins. Also, notice the tree growing out of the rock? It still amazes me that trees can grow with so little dirt or water.
Another wonderful surprise was to see this large pond on the top of Greyrock. It was beautiful up here. There was even a grassy meadow in another area we hiked through. If you look at this picture, note where I highlighted other hikers... that's the summit we eventually made it to. From there we could see 360 degrees. Unfortunately, it started to drizzle while we were approaching the summit. And since we were warned that the rocks became very slick when wet, we took our lunch break behind some rocks and waited for it to stop. When it stopped, we quickly scurried up to take in the views than quickly hurried down when the thunder started. It rained almost the rest of the hike down. We were just happy we made it to the summit and down off Greyrock before it started raining too hard. On the way back, we took the longer Meadows Trail. Part of this trial took us through a burned-out area. It's hard to explain what it feels like to walk thru an area that is charred - spooky, like walking through a cemetary at night, there's a sense that you should pass through quietly and respectfully or you'll disturb the dead. It's probably just my imagination, but I have a tendency to think about the terror that must exist when a fire sweeps through...all the little critters who can't get out of its way in time.
The Meadows Trail was suppossed to be the less challenging route, but we didn't think it was any easier than if we took the Summit Trail back down. Our quads and knees were so sore at the end of the trip. We had our hiking poles with us, which we do believe help give our knees a break, but even then we were hurting. But it was another beautiful Colorado hike that we would recommend.

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