Trekking the Peaks of Colorado

The state of Colorado is graced with beauty unsurpassed by many states within the USA. This western state is graced with a landscape full of valleys, mountains, lakes, plateaus, deserts, and rushing rivers. Needless to say, Colorado has it all, especially if you’re keen to get outside!

There is no shortage when it comes to activities for the outdoor/extreme sports junkie, including mountain climbing, white-water rafting, SUP, and of course snow skiing/snowboarding.

I am sharing with you our experience hiking some of the most beautiful scenery in Colorado, during summer and winter months…and, of course, with our trusted k-9 companion, Olive, the shiba inu.

Exploring the craggy mountains a/k/a ‘Rocky Mountains’ requires a certain level of physical and mental strength. Many of the tallest mountains “14ers” as they are called, allow for the most breathtaking scenery and photo opps (photos below).

Side note here: as with many geological/natural/environmental questions, those who are interested tend to argue – this is the case with the ‘true’ number of 14ers. There is an ongoing debate as to exactly how many 14ers truly exist in Colorado. As per the Colorado Geological Survey, there are 58 peaks which exceed 14,000 ft. in elevation. So, we’ll go with this number for now . . .58 it is!

While most all 14ers are indeed difficult to summit for even the most experienced mountaineer, there are several [14ers] which are, for the most part, ‘family friendly’, including Grays PeakMt. Bierstadt, Mt. Democrat, Mt. Evans, and Mt. Sherman, all of which are above 14,000 ft (4,267 meters) in elevation. And yes, it’s difficult to breathe where the air is rarified! Note ‘family friendly’ assumes the hiker is in moderate-good physical and mental health.

For more information on the above-mentioned four 14ers, visit www.14ers.com. This website is chock-full of helpful information such as up-to-date mountain weather reports, route maps, photos, and trip review. Check it out!

Below are a handful of our favorite photographs which we took during our adventures backpacking/trekking/climbing in beautiful Colorado. As with any journey, one must be equipped with the right gear. For the majority of the hikes we have done in Colorado, and surrounding states in the USA, we have been incredibly pleased with gear from Kathmandu (check them out by clicking the following link HERE) – Enjoy!

Grays Peak

Elevation: 14,270 ft. / 4,350 meters

See MAP HERE

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Grays Peak: near the trailhead. Crystal clear waters one will pass whilst trekking through this beautiful Rocky Mountain land!
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Grays Peak: yes, there are wildflowers. . . and lots of them!
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Grays Peak: Olive just taking in the beauty surrounding us as we begin our trek towards the mountain
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Grays Peak: Olive and I just getting warmed up for this hike!

 

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Grays Peak: view from the lowlands below the summit
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Grays Peak: Nearing the saddle between Grays and Torreys Peaks…Olive telling me to “move quicker!”
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Grays Peak: the ‘saddle’ which connects two 14ers, being Grays & Torreys and is at 13,707 ft (4,178 m). One can summit both 14ers during the same hike if weather & strength permits! We submitted Gray’s only which is 14,270 ft / 4,350 meters.
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Grays Peak: resting on summit with fellow mountaineers before descending
Friends atop Gray's Peak
Grays Peak: hanging out on summit with a team hiking the Continental Divide trail, which extends from Mexico all the way to Canada and runs 3,100 miles / 5,000 km. The Continental Divide trail follows along the Rocky Mountains and traverses five states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico
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Grays Peak: friend showing off his rock climbing skills. They don’t call the Rockies ‘rocky’ for nothing.

 

Mt. Sherman

Elevation: 14,036 ft. / 4,278 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Sherman: Olive and I making headway as we climb – what a view we had!
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Mt. Sherman: scrambling up the craggy rock face of this mountain. . .Olive is a trooper!
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Mt. Sherman: Nearing the summit. A view of the route behind me
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Mt. Sherman: Fellow dog and their masters – making new friends
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Mt. Sherman: Olive feeling quite proud after having reached summit! 
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Mt. Sherman
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Mt. Sherman: On summit…chowing down on a banana with Olive!
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Mt. Sherman: Fellow mountaineers on summit
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Mt. Sherman: On summit…just a ridiculously photogenic dog!
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Mt. Sherman: Cairn letting Olive and I know we had reached the summit

Mt. Quandry

Elevation: 14,265 ft. / 4,347 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Quandry: stunningly beautiful!
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Mt. Quandary: mountain goat checking us out as we hike upwards to the summit

Mt. Democrat

Elevation: 14,148 ft. / 4,349 meters

See MAP HERE

 

 

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Mt. Democrat: view of the valley below as we climb closer to the summit
Mt Democrat_nearing the summit Olive and clouds
Mt. Democrat: olive nearing the summit, before her masters, as usual!
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Mt. Democrat: cairn on summit
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Mt. Democrat: we’ve made it to the summit! 

 

 

Mt. Bierstadt

Elevation: 14,060 ft. / 4,285 meters

See MAP HERE

Josh and Lindz - Bierstadt
Mt. Bierstadt: us after just having trekked across the lowlands (in background). Now on the trail which leads to the summit!
MT. Bierstadt view from Mt. Evans. Mt. B was the first 14er we accomplished summit
Mt. Bierstadt: view of the summit (which we reached)

Mt. Evans

Elevation: 14,264 ft. / 4,347 meters

See MAP HERE

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Mt. Evans: checking out fellow hikers and tourists before embarking on the route to the summit!
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Mt. Evans: Olive and Josh – geared up and hiking towards the trailhead
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Mt. Evans: the classic ‘fly’ pose overlooking Summit Lake
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Mt. Evans: one of the many mountain goats which threatened to charge (just threatened)

 

His final look before he charged..
Mt. Evans: mountain goats

 

Even near the cities of Denver and Boulder one can find beautiful half-day to full-day hikes, such as these pictured below.

Josh resting with kathmandu backpack

Indian Peaks Wilderness Trail - Josh and olive kathmandu hiking backpack
Indian Wilderness – near Boulder, Colorado

Indian Peaks Wilderness - Boulder_josh and kathmandu backpack

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Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park: the elk bulls were not at all shy
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Taking in the sights of Boulder ‘open space’
Bear Lake - RMNP_kathmandu packpack josh hiking in snow
Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park: hiking over Bear Lake (yes, under the foot of snow and ice there is a lake)

 

Bavaria : Neuschwanstein to Lake Königssee

After a grueling 5 hour 260 mile/420 km drive from Frankfurt, Germany to Hohenschwangau, Germany, near the town of Füssen, located in the southwestern region of Bavaria, bordering Austria, we finally were able to gaze upon the magnificent castles which we had set out to discover – Neuschwanstein and Schloss Hohenschwangau. Both just a glorious as all photographs we’d seen prior to arrival. The day was bluebird – not a cloud in the sky to shield the view of these magnificent structures. It was a perfect day, minus the few dozen tour buses on our tail as we walked to the horse-drawn carriage. Luckily, we had beat the crowd and were able to hop on the horse-drawn carriage in a short amount of time and were on our way up the driveway of Neuschwanstein!

Of course, while traveling anywhere, especially in/around the Bavarian Alps, one must be prepared with all essentials, notably your backpack! For us, the Cotopaxi Luzon 18 L Del Dia day pack is a perfect choice to hold everything one needs for this type of travel! Check out Cotopaxi and their gear by CLICKING HERE. Cotopaxi is fine group who use those leftover scraps of fabric to create their wonderful masterpiece jackets, backpacks, and more. Perfect for, well, any type of traveling and proven to be solid products that last even through the harshest elements. They even insulate their jackets using llama fiber – how cool is that?!

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Hohenschwangau, Germany (View from hotel Alpen Stuben)
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Neuschwanstein Castle
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Castle Hohenschwangau
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Neuschwanstein Castle
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View from one of the main balconies of Neuschwanstein Castle

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Day 2:  Departing Hohenschwangau

After a great night’s rest and departing Hohenschwangau, we embarked on the next leg of our journey towards Ramsau, Germany. The beautiful route we took, part of which was via the famous German Alpine Road (Deutschen Alpenstraße), provided us distant views of the beautiful Neuschwanstein Castle resting on the mountain side, as well as the baroque-style church pictured above. Saying goodbye to this region of Bavaria was difficult, however we anticipated with excitement what extraordinary places lay ahead!

The drive to Ramsau took all of 3.5 hrs (140 miles), and took us through towns such as Bad Tolz, Waakirchen, and Miesbach, before reaching the final town of the Deutschen Alpenstraße, being Inzell. Upon reaching Inzell, we continued a short distance further down windy, narrow roads through towering alpine trees until we reached the tucked-away most extraordinary town of Ramsau, Germany (see our blog post “Ramsau“). Ramsau is a village worth an entire blog post!

Below are a few photos of Ramsau, including the seldom witnessed/explored Church of Saint Sebastian.

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Playing in the Alps!

Ramsau to Lake Königssee

The drive from Ramsau to Lake Königssee is short, a mere 30 minutes to be exact. Lake Königssee (or Königsee) lies a couple of miles south of the town of Berchtesgaden and boasts to be Germany’s deepest and cleanest lake. Most of the lake is within the Berchtesgaden National Park.

To properly experience this Lake and all it offers, one must embark on the electric boat which glides across the water to the baroque-style pilgrimage church of St. Bartholomä, located on a peninsula about halfway down the western lake shore.

IMG_9146Backing up to the electric boat ride: during the approximate 45 minute drift to St. Bartholomä, the guests aboard the vessel will witness the echo-creating rock walls which surround portions of the Lake. “Echo-creating” rock walls which allow for the trumpeter aboard to play his flugelhorn to demonstrate just how “echo-creating” the rock walls really are. The flugelhorn melody reverberates up to seven times! It seems as if there are seven trumpeters, rather than just the one (just an interesting side note).

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Arrival at the dock to visit the pilgrimage church of St. BartholomäIMG_9158
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Lake Königssee
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Taking a break at the on-site Münchner Hofbräuhaus

Another side note/word of caution: due to the steep shore of Lake Königssee, St. Bartholomä and the southern edge can only be reached by boat, or via hiking trails up the surrounding mountains. The only exception to this is during harsh winters when the Lake freezes over – but of course with any frozen lake, caution is advised! Stepping on the frozen Lake, could result in a very, very cold bath, or worse. This happened in 1964 when a motorist thought it might be safe to drive his Volkwagen Beetle across the Lake to reach St. Bartholomä. The Beetle was found in 1997 at a depth of 100 m (330 ft). So, in short – do not walk (or drive) on frozen lakes!

To end our journey in Bavaria, we took a hike along the Konigsee + Obersee , Parque Nacional de Berchtesgaden trail. Such natural beauty surrounding our every step as we ventured into the alpine forest.

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