Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ute Trail and Hunter Creek/Smuggler Mountain

Monday morning I woke up early and decided to hit the Ute Trail first thing, like I did last Friday.  It was another great hike on the Ute, and I was glad I did it early.  Later on in the morning Trisha, Shelley and I did the Hunter Creek/Smuggler Mountain Loop again--and of course Davi went along as well!  He just loves to be out hiking and it's a lot of fun to have him along.  We did the hike slightly differently than we had done before, and it worked out well.  First, we drove the car to the end of the Smuggler Mountain Road and parked there, then walked to the Hunter Creek Trailhead.  Turned out to be an easy walk to get started, and there really is no parking near the trailhead, so that all worked out well.  Once we were on the trail, we elected to do one section going a different way than we had before, so we could get different views and it was really pretty that way.  It's just fascinating to see how different the views can be on the same hike from one day to another.  It had been a week since we had done this hike, and we noticed that several varieties of wildflowers that had been in full bloom when we last hiked it were past their prime, yet some other varieties were now taking over center stage in all their showiness--just amazing natural beauty all around!  The weather was great--crisp when we started, but soon we were doffing our long sleeves as it got warmer along the trail.  Davi is so remarkable on the trail:  he always looks out for all of us and makes sure the last one in the line, usually me, keeps up with everyone else.  Of course anytime we encounter water, like a stream or creek, he loves to get down in it, too!  Since we were doing a slightly different circuit, we didn't stop for lunch at the same place we have on our previous hikes here, but when we were getting close to that place, Davi just ran on ahead of us and then sat down to wait, like "I know this is where we stop."  There are also places where Shelley and Ken have stopped to give him water when they've done the loop, and he goes right to those places and sits to wait as well.  And at the Smuggler Mountain Trailhead, there's a sign at the beginning where he knows he gets his leash put back on for the walk home through the residential sections, so every time we've done this hike with him, as soon as he sees we're coming to the end, he runs down to the sign and just sits and waits on us to get there to put his leash on--such a smart dog!  Just another great hiking day here in this amazingly beautiful place!

Starting out we noticed that Hunter Creek was not as full as when we'd done this hike a week earlier--hadn't rained for the past week and we could really notice places where we would cross were much drier.
 Fascinating cloud patters
 The Happy Hikers!
 Never get enough of the wildflowers

 Love these swirly patterns on the stalks of these flowers!

 We always love it when we can see reflections of trees and mountains in lakes and streams!

 Some of the same cabins we'd seen before, from a different angle

 You can see Maroon Bells in the distance, and some of the ski runs from Aspen Mountain as well
 Davi, taking a break in the tall grass!
 Trisha is always drawn to doorways we encounter on our travels--signifies so many things, new beginnings, mysteries lying beyond the doorway, as well as the history of all the folks who have lived there and crossed that threshold, so we rarely pass up the chance to get a shot of her in a doorway!

 The bluish purple on this was just brilliant!
 Pinks and yellows together

 Coming down Smuggler Mountain Road--Aspen Mountain ski runs in the distance
 Davi, patiently waiting to get his leash back on before we leave the trail!

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