Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hike: Rattlesnake Gulch Trail

Last weekend we hiked in Eldorado Canyon State Park along the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, a moderately difficult trail that goes up to the Crags Hotel ruins, and on to the loop at the top for a total of 3.6 miles RT. Unfortunately, I don't have many pictures, and somehow managed to not take a picture of the continental divide at the top.

This was a class hike (which is a whole other post), so we had to stop a lot to spend some time practicing skills. For instance, as a side trip (not part of the trail), we scrambled up a boulder field, crossed over it (boulders and talus which all moved), and then went down the scree... Some people do this for fun and call it "screeing". Basically, you are "screeing" by balancing on your feet and letting the loose scree take you down the rock slope. The key as we learned, is to relax and just go with the flow of rock.  Honestly, if I wasn't so worried about my ankle the entire time, I may have enjoyed it more... as I kinda like climbing boulders. But really, I think I learned enough about going down scree to know that I want to avoid it as much as possible. The purpose of the exercise was to get familiar with this type of terrain, and gain some confidence. This is common terrain when climbing mountains above tree line (like 13ers and 14ers). I really, really wish I had pictures of the boulder field and scree we went down to show you. It was pretty impressive I think :).

You can see a little of the boulder field at the bottom of this picture
We also practiced finding our location on a topographic map by doing triangulation with our compasses. I think I'm actually better at finding myself on the map by just using sight, than using compass bearings. But I was able to get myself "on the dime", in other words... close enough. The engineer in me wanted to be able to mark my precise spot. Oh well, it was easy enough to recognize my actual location from the plotted bearings, and I can see myself using this as a sanity check.

View from the loop at the top, looking East toward Boulder
Eldorado Canyon State Park is a beautiful area, I'd really like to go back and spend some time there.

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