Saturday, March 4, 2017

Hiking while on Spring Break

Posted By on Sat, Mar 4, 2017 at 7:54 AM

March is a month when people start to get weary of winter. Although our winter here on the Front Range has been fairly mild (so far, anyways), it's still winter. March is "spring break" month with schools taking time off and families traveling. If you're a baseball fan, it's Spring Training time, with the promise of America's Pastimes' regular season starting in April.  Many people from the northern climes travel south in March and Arizona is a popular destination for those of us in the western U.S.— me included.

Last year I wrote about some of the many places to hike in the Phoenix area — here, and here. Since I try to find and hike more trails while on vacation, I thought this would be a good time to share a few more places for hiking while on spring break.

Deem Hills Recreation Area, located in a far northwest corner of Phoenix, is made up of almost 1,000 acres of hilly land. There are a number of trails in the park, the longest being the appropriately named, 5.73-mile "Circumference Trail" which encircles the park. There are four other trails in the park that eventually intersect or cross the Circumference Trail at some point.

On my visit to Deem Hills last year, I started at the main trailhead off of W. Deem Hills Parkway, and went clockwise on the Circumference Trail. Wanting to see the view from the highest point in the park, I then turned onto the Ridgeline Trail and followed it until reconnecting with the Circumference Trail and then returning to the parking lot. Total distance was just under 4 miles of moderate to moderately difficult hiking.

Far to the east of Deem Hills, in the McDowell-Sonoran Preserve, the trails available from the Tom's Thumb Trailhead vary in difficulty and length from an easy 3-mile to a more difficult 11-mile loop. On my visit, I hiked the Lookout Viewpoint trail, a rather difficult 5-mile out-and-back hike with spectacular views of the surrounding area.
View from the Lookout Viewpoint - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • View from the Lookout Viewpoint

Another perennial spring break destination are the National Parks in Utah, with Arches National Park and Moab being the most popular. If you're planning on going to Arches National Park this year, take note that a major road construction project in the park will complicate matters quite a bit.

Crags Update: The ever popular Crags Campground and trails, along with Forest Service Road 383 past the Mennonite Camp has been closed for some time as contractors removed approximately 12 acres of trees infested with bark beetle. In a Facebook post, the Pikes Peak Ranger District says additional projects have been identified that are not part of the initial contract. The Forest Service says that it will be completing all related projects prior to reopening the area.

While no date for reopening has been set, the post does say they expect "... to re-open the area this summer."

Happy (spring break) Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Castle Rock's example of building great parks with diverse funding

Posted By on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 7:49 AM

EPIC Adventure Tower - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • EPIC Adventure Tower
A while back I wrote about Philip S. Miller park in Castle Rock. Promising to be a quite a jewel — completed in multiple phases with a huge budget — many of the planned amenities, including the ziplines, a kids playground and more weren't finished or even started on my first visit.

More than a year had passed before I made my most recent trip. The changes in the park are impressive. The Challenge Staircase, which resembles The Manitou Incline on a much smaller scale, was one of the few features to open with the park in 2014, along with the athletic fields and the Miller Athletic Center, which offers swimming, fitness and many other activities. The Challenge Staircase connects to 10-miles of trails leading around the park, most of which are open not only for hikers, but for cyclists as well.
The 200 steps of the "Challenge Staircase" - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • The 200 steps of the "Challenge Staircase"
The new additions also include a large outdoor pavilion, an amphitheater, kids playground, and ponds.
(L-R) Amphitheater, Ponds, Pavilion, Miller Athletic Center - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • (L-R) Amphitheater, Ponds, Pavilion, Miller Athletic Center
Since my first visit, 10 ziplines crossing a total of 1.5 miles from one side of the park to the other have also been installed. The EPIC Adventure Tower, with a 42-foot climbing wall, controlled descent rappelling equiptment and even bungee jumping, is also new, as is the adjacent EPIC Sky Trek — what I can only describe as a massive, 5-level, all-in-one jungle gym and ropes course.
EPIC Adventure Tower - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • EPIC Adventure Tower
  • Bob Falcone
  • EPIC Sky Trek
But, as mentioned earlier, Phillip S. Miller wasn't a cheap project. The $30 million price tag of this public park is near that of the entire Colorado Springs Parks Department budget ($37 million). The town was able to fund it by using not only local tax dollars, but grants, endowments, bonds and more. In fact, the demand for this park was such that it was deemed a budget priority for the town. Although use of the trails is free to all, other parts of the park, such as the Athletic Center, do charge user fees.

Here is the beauty of the project: the ziplines, EPIC Tower and Sky Trek features are a product of a public-private partnership. These attractions, which also have user fees attached to them, were privately funded and operated by the same company. In return for the public land use, the town gets five-percent of the revenue the attractions generate.

This is what separates Castle Rock from the Colorado Springs and El Paso County Parks systems. While both the city and county rely heavily on tax money, grants and some user fees to operate, both systems have very few private partnerships. There are no EPIC Adventure Towers or Sky Treks or ziplines in any of the city and county parks. In fact, with the exception of some long established horse back riding enterprises, private businesses are virtually non-existent in our parks. Meanwhile, these kinds of attractions are being built on wholly-private land around Seven Falls, Manitou Springs, and the Royal Gorge, and proving to be quite successful.

What would the state of our city and county parks be if there had been enough foresight to engage in private partnerships to build our own epic attractions on carefully chosen park lands?

There's been a lot of blood, sweat and tears expended to find ways to raise the level of funding for Springs' local parks. While I believe that the amount of tax revenue our parks receive needs to increase, it's hard not to wonder what if both Colorado Springs and El Paso County followed Castle Rock's example to find more epic ways to diversify funding for parks.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Do you have "secret" trails?

Posted By on Sat, Jan 28, 2017 at 7:58 AM

  • Bob Falcone
I'm often asked what my "favorite" trails are, and to be honest, I don't have a single favorite. I may have a favorite trail when I'm wanting a better view, or for when I don't have much time, or want to go a long distance trail. You get the picture. I'm also often asked about my "secret" trails — those that only I know and don't tell anyone about. My answer to that is similar to my answer about favorite trails. I really don't have any secret trails.

Well, sort of.

As any reader of this blog, or anyone who I've had a conversation with knows, I love to share information about our local parks and trails. If I know of a trail, I'll be happy to tell you all about it. I don't believe in keeping secrets out of a need to keep things just for myself. But, there are some trails that I won't publicly discuss.

It may be because they're in places that are sensitive to over use, or on private land (with legal public access) that I don't want people to abuse and risk public access being shut down. Even then, though, I'll usually  tell someone about them in private, or take a hiker there — as long as they swear to secrecy.

In between the well known trails or parks and the somewhat "secret" trails there are "insider" trails. These are the trails that don't come up at the top of Google searches for trails in our area, but aren't really a secret, either. They're kind of just below the radar, so to speak.

The Independent will be publishing the annual Insider guide later this year, where you'll find some of my favorite "insider" trails.  Want to share some of yours?  Leave a comment below, or e-mail me, and maybe I'll use one of yours, too.

Happy (insider) trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Snowshoe basics to keep you on the trails this winter

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 2:22 PM

Few things are better than being the first to tread on virgin snow - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Few things are better than being the first to tread on virgin snow
Winter is here, and with it, snow.  While there hasn't been much snow in Colorado Springs — we didn't get our first measurable snow fall until after the beginning of December — there's been plenty in the high country, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation — you just have to be willing to work a little to get to it.

For the hiker, snowshoeing is the most natural progression for keeping on the trails when the snow hits. And although snowshoeing isn't particularly difficult, as you can imagine, it's a bit different than hiking on dirt in your usual hiking boots.

First, you need a pretty good base of snow for snowshoeing. There isn't really a set amount of snow you need before strapping on some snowshoes, but my rule-of-thumb is that it should be at least a couple of inches over the toe of my boot. You can snowshoe with less snow, but then you run the risk of the bottom of your snowshoes constantly hitting hard dirt, and that can get uncomfortable after a while.

When it comes time to buy a pair of snowshoes, there are a couple of key factors to look at before making your decision. Snowshoes are sized by the length of the snowshoe, and the length you need is based primarily on the weight they'll be supporting. This isn't just your weight, but the weight of your clothing, and any thing else you're carrying. If you're backpacking, you made need bigger snowshoes than if you're day-hiking. Also, there are different types of snowshoes for different types of terrain and activities. For the Pikes Peak region, if you're planning on snowshoeing in steep terrain, I suggest "mountaineering" snowshoes, with "heel-lifters" that help keep your feet horizontal while your snowshoes are at an angle. You'll want to go to your favorite outdoor equipment retailer for advice before you buy. Hiking poles will help make snowshoeing a little easier, and don't forget insulated, waterproof hiking boots.

So, now you're ready for some snowshoeing, but where? The usual snowfall doesn't last long in Colorado Springs, either packed down or melted after a day or so, neither of which makes for suitable snowshoeing. But with the right timing Red Rocks Canyon Open Space, the Seven Bridges Trail, Gold Camp Road up to and past tunnel #3, St Mary's Falls Trail, and Cheyenne Mountain State Park are good locations near Colorado Springs, as is Homestead Ranch Regional Park near Peyton.

Venturing out a little further, Catamount Ranch Open Space, Mueller State Park near Divide, and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument are good options. Further away, the area around Buena Vista — Mt Princeton, Chalk Creek, St. Elmo and Cottonwood Pass — to the west, and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north offer good snowshoeing conditions well into the spring.

Don't let the winter weather keep you from enjoying yourself.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Friday, December 23, 2016

City kills bike lanes on Research Parkway

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 3:25 PM

The map shows a city-organized "Ride on Research" meant to promote the new lanes. - CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
  • The map shows a city-organized "Ride on Research" meant to promote the new lanes.

The bike lane demonstration project on Research Parkway in northern Colorado Springs has proved a PR disaster and will be terminated.

It's too bad because the protected lanes were a new kind of infrastructure for Colorado Springs —  one cyclists have longed for. But, in my humble opinion, the project seems to have fallen victim to two fatal flaws.

First: Location. Research Parkway isn't exactly the heart of the bike commuter universe here in the Springs, so it's unreasonable to expect that the lanes would be heavily used by cyclists or embraced by the car-dependent neighborhoods nearby. Most of the city's bike infrastructure should be in places where people already ride bikes — design should follow function. And if drivers are already battling bike traffic on a particular road, there's a good chance that they will embrace bike infrastructure because it stands to make their drive easier.

Second: Misunderstanding. When the project was unveiled, city staff tried to explain that the lane being closed on Research that would then accommodate cyclists, wasn't closed to accommodate cyclists. The lane was being closed because traffic engineers felt the road was oversized and that the extra lane was making Research less safe. The bike lanes just seemed like a cool project to put in that extra space. That's a key distinction — and one that the public never seemed to fully grasp. In fact, the lanes on Research Parkway may have served only to fuel resentment from motorists toward cyclists, because they mistakenly believed they were being forced to give something up so that cyclists could take it over.

Anyway, let's hope that the lesson that the city takes away from Research Parkway isn't that protected bike lanes are a bad idea. As a cyclist myself, I think they're a great idea. However, in the future, picking a strategic location where the lanes are likely to be embraced and heavily used, as well as communicating with people who live in the area, will be key to gaining acceptance.

City of Colorado Springs Will Terminate Research
Bike Lane Demonstration Project
Public Input, Traffic Data Contribute to Decision

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo – The City announced today that the bicycle lane demonstration project along Research Parkway will be terminated. The bicycle lane striping and vertical delineators will be removed as soon as weather permits.

For the safety of the travelling public, the outside travel lane will continue to be a designated bicycle lane until lane markings can be changed to reflect vehicle travel.

In an effort to manage traffic speeds on Research Parkway, the Traffic Engineering Division implemented a demonstration project to “right size” the corridor between Austin Bluffs and Chapel Hills drive from six to four travel lanes and repurposed the outside travel lane as a buffered bike lane. The project’s goals were two-fold: To manage excessive traffic speeds and to utilize the remaining pavement to create additional bicycle connections along the corridor.

“The purpose of a bicycle lane demonstration project is to assess public sentiment as well as vehicle and bicycle traffic impacts,” said Mayor John Suthers. “The Traffic Engineering Division has prepared a report on the Research Parkway demonstration project. The bottom line is that the vast majority of residents in the area of the demonstration project are opposed to the project and the vast majority of people who support it do not live in the affected area. The amount of local resident use, even in favorable fall weather, was not significant.”

The study completed by Traffic Engineering reported that changes in vehicle speeds resulting from the lane reduction did not meet expectations and was not consistent with typical results from such an effort. The city plans to address excessive vehicle speed on Research through traffic enforcement.

“Colorado Springs will continue to promote bicycle transportation because we have a large number of residents and visitors who ride bicycles for both recreational and transportation purposes. We believe the city’s attraction to cyclists will be a growing part of our tourism economy going forward and providing multi-modal transportation options will make our city more attractive to a vibrant workforce. For this reason, I continue to support the development of the 2017 Bike Master Plan. With that, the city will continue to conduct demonstration projects to assess viability of routes and locations, while assessing levels of community support or opposition.”

The City encourages the public to provide input on projects that affect traffic flow, and offers multiple opportunities for engagement, including neighborhood meetings, City Council presentations and SpeakUp!, the city’s online survey tool. Prior to implementing the demonstration project the City conducted three neighborhood meetings in Spring 2016 to notify the public of the plan and gather input.

“With projects such as this one, there are a number of factors that determine outcomes, but be assured, public input is a major element of our decision-making,” said Jay Anderson, Citizen Engagement Specialist for the City of Colorado Springs. “While community meetings have been a long-standing method for such engagement, we are pleased to continue offering new ways for citizens to engage directly with the city.”

The Ride on Research demonstration project generated over 1,300 responses, which were an impactful element of determining the path forward. Metrics are as follow.

SpeakUp! Survey on Demonstration project:
1,347 people participated
· 63 percent of respondents lived in neighborhoods surrounding the demonstration project
· 37 percent of respondents lived in other neighborhoods

Overall response to the demonstration project:
· 80.5 percent of respondents said they want the project reversed
· 14.3 percent of respondents said they really like it, and remaining respondents said they felt it required some changes to make the project more palatable.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, December 17, 2016

New law aims to improve trails, another measures economic impact

Posted By on Sat, Dec 17, 2016 at 8:24 AM

  • Bob Falcone
Last month, with broad bi-partisanship support, President Obama signed into law the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act. The law comes after a 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study which showed that the U.S. Forest Service had a $314 million backlog of trail maintenance, and that only about one-quarter of Forest Service trails actually met it's own trail maintenance standards.

The bill directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture to put together a nationwide strategy "to significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance" by not only removing obstacles that keep volunteers from doing trail maintenance, but to prioritize the use of volunteers and other partners in areas with the most severe maintenance backlogs and where backlogs are restricting access to forest lands. There is no room for the USDA to drag its feet. The department must double trail maintenance by volunteers and other partners within 5 years, and not only identify areas where significant trail maintenance is needed, but consider public input on the identified areas within three months of the law being enacted.

What this means to the Pike National Forest and to the those of us who play in it remains to be seen, but anyone who has spent time in Pike and other national forests have no doubt encountered trails that are eroded, worn out, in need of realignment or have other issues. Hopefully this will set the stage for much need maintenance work in our region.

Colorado, and much of the western U.S., relies heavily on outdoor recreation and tourism for economic stability and growth. But there has been no official or reliable way to measure the direct economic impact outdoor recreation has had on the national economy. That changed when President Obama signed in to law the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act earlier this month, which directs the U.S. Department of Commerce along with the Interior Department and the USDA to determine the direct impact that outdoor recreation has on the national economy. The law directs that employment, sales and other components of the outdoor recreation economy be taken into consideration when determining it's impact. The law also makes a point of directing the agencies to consider the impact of small "mom and pop" outdoor recreation businesses.

One can hope that the recognition of outdoor recreation on the national economy will pay dividends in the form of increased national political influence for Colorado and other western states.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Thursday, December 15, 2016

GOCO grants help trout, Ring the Peak, Manitou, Black Forest

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 12:04 PM

The greenback cutthroat trout is threatened. - DOUG KRIEGER
  • The greenback cutthroat trout is threatened.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) has allotted $250,000 worth of grants from Colorado Lottery money to our area. The money will go to projects that are near and dear to many locals. Here's a quick outline of their impact (for more, read the press release posted below):

• A planning consultant will be hired to work out environmental and trail alignment obstacles for the gap in the long-planned Ring the Peak trail, which is planned to go around Pikes Peak. The plan should be finished at the end of 2017.

• The last known habitat of the greenback cutthroat trout, the Bear Creek watershed, will see habitat restoration. Grant money will "help the county conduct a full stream survey, producing a detailed implementation plan to remove sediment and optimize the river conditions for the trout, helping ensure its long-term survival."

• Trail work and forest restoration in Pineries Open Space and Black Forest Regional Park will be completed, improving recreational opportunities, drainage issues, and wildlife habitat.

• Crews will work to create a "fire break" along the Intemann Trail, which runs along the outer edge of Manitou Springs.
GOCO awards $250,000 for Ring the Peak planning, conservation work in El Paso County

DENVER – The GOCO Board awarded four grants totaling $250,000 [recently] to projects in El Paso County.

The City of Colorado Springs, in partnership with the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC), received a $100,000 grant for the Ring the Peak Trail; El Paso County received two grants—a $75,000 habitat restoration grant for greenback cutthroat trout on Bear Creek and $45,000 in Youth Corps funding for Black Forest trails and forest restoration; and the City of Manitou Springs received a $30,000 Youth Corps grant for Intemann Trail.

The grant for the Ring the Peak Trail is part of GOCO’s new Connect Initiative trail planning grant program, which provides funding for trail projects for design, engineering, and master planning.

The grant program was created to help municipalities and their partners navigate the often complicated planning process for trails, from regional networks to first-ever master plans in communities new to trail building. The program will help trail projects get shovel-ready for construction grants also offered through Connect.

Ring the Peak is a vision decades in the making to build a contiguous trail loop around Pikes Peak. GOCO funding will hire a planning consultant to help TOSC navigate the environmental and trail alignment obstacles the group has faced, moving the project forward and facilitating the completion of the final 8- to 12-mile gap on the southwest portion of the trail.

TOSC and Colorado Springs hope to finish the trail plan by the end of 2017. Ring the Peak is one of Governor Hickenlooper’s “16 in 2016” priority trails.

Elsewhere in Colorado Springs, El Paso County received a habitat restoration grant to support the greenback cutthroat trout population in the reach of Bear Creek running through Jones Park.

In 2016, GOCO doubled funding for the habitat restoration program, which funds projects that remove invasive plant species, protect Colorado’s water supply, mitigate fire fuels, and perform other critical restoration work.

Bear Creek supports the only naturally reproducing, genetically pure population of greenback cutthroat trout in North America. The trout, which is Colorado’s state fish and listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, has been negatively impacted by excess sediment in the stream.

GOCO funding will help the county conduct a full stream survey, producing a detailed implementation plan to remove sediment and optimize the river conditions for the trout, helping ensure its long-term survival. The project also hopes to reduce the spread of aquatic diseases and overall contamination of the stream.

El Paso County also received a $45,000 Youth Corps grant for trail work and forest restoration in Pineries Open Space and Black Forest Regional Park. Crews from Mile High Youth Corps-Southern Front Range (MHYC-SFR) will mark and clear trails, construct and close trails, and thin standing trees.

Corps members will work within Black Forest Regional Park along the Palmer Divide northeast of Colorado Springs and at Pineries Open Space. The project will improve water quality, reduce stormwater runoff, improve wildlife habitat, improve public access, and assist with continued recovery from the Black Forest Wildfire of 2013.

The City of Manitou Springs received a $30,000 Youth Corps grant for a four-week fire mitigation project on Intemann Trail. Historic Manitou Springs is in an area prone to wildfires, and crews from MHYC-SFR will work to create the critical fire break along the trail on the city’s southern boundary.

GOCO awards Youth Corps funding through the Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA), a statewide coalition of nine accredited youth corps groups that engage and train youth, young adults, and veterans (ages 14-25) to work on land, water, and energy conservation projects.

Corps members earn a stipend for their full-time service and an AmeriCorps education award to use toward college or trade school. The organization serves 1,700 young people annually.

To date, GOCO has invested $51.6 million in El Paso County projects and has conserved more than 8,000 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Ute Valley Park, the reconstruction of the Incline, and Colorado Springs’ Legacy Loop trail, among other projects. The Pikes Peak Region was also recently named a GOCO Inspire community and is part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,800 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

UPDATE: Strawberry Fields controversy continues

Posted By on Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 4:43 PM

Strawberry Fields, at the center of a land exchange controversy. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Strawberry Fields, at the center of a land exchange controversy.


After posting this blog, we heard from Kent Obee, who had this to say about the mayor's "response" during public comments, a rare if not unheard-of practice.

We didn't know whether to be honored or once again rolled when the mayor inserted himself into the "citizen discussion" on Tuesday. Probably the latter. A couple of comments about what the mayor claimed.

I assume you picked up on the fact that the 16 successful land exchange figures he touted included the current Broadmoor swap. In fact, it is about 80% of the total. Most of other 15 swaps were really fairly minor and the majority of them would have been covered by the exceptions we spelled out in our proposed ballot measure. The two big exceptions to the exceptions were the swaps with Lyda Hill involving Seven Falls and the reroute of 30th Street to accommodate the parking for the new Garden of the Gods visitors center. And, yes, those probably should have gone to a vote of the people.

When the mayor talked about future good swaps that were about to happen, I believe he was referring to a proposed change in the location of the yet-to-be-built Larry Ochs sports complex. We included land obtained through the PLDO [Park Land Dedication Ordinance, which requires developers to dedicate land in their developments] process in the list of exceptions saying it was not protected until the park was actually built and dedicated. That would have allowed this exchange to take place [Larry Ochs complex exchange].

————ORIGINAL POST 4:43 P.M. WEDNESDAY, DEC. 14, 2016————————-

In the continuing saga of Save Cheyenne's efforts, board president Richard Skorman and member Kent Obee asked City Council on Tuesday to refer a measure to voters that would require a vote of the people to sell or trade away the city's park land and open space.

The plea triggered a rare response from Mayor John Suthers. We say rare, because his comments came in response to Skorman's and Obee's comments during the public comment section of the agenda. The mayor has never spoken during Council's public comments before, as far as we know.

At issue is the city's swap of 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space to The Broadmoor last May. Save Cheyenne tried to mount a ballot measure for the April 2017 election that would roll back the deal, but a judge dashed those hopes, ruling against the nonprofit.

Skorman and Obee appeared Tuesday to ask if Council might consider such a measure, and in its absence, a policy that would bar sales and trades of park land and open space, like many other Colorado cities already require. Notably, that prohibition also exists for many of the city's own parks — ones that were purchased with money from a special tax for trails, open space and parks (known as TOPS).

"What we’re looking for is something along the lines of what we already have in the TOPS ordinance — no sale, no trade, no disposal without a vote of the people," Obee said. "We want to do what is done in many many other cities in this country. Denver, for instance, has an ordinance that is much stricter than anything we were thinking about."

The Denver measure was passed in 1955 and once a park is dedicated, it is not disposable even with a vote of the people. Land acquired before 1955 is subject to sale or trade if voters approve, he said.

"This is what we’d like to see," Obee said. "Park land is special."

After he spoke, Council President called on the mayor to weigh in. Suthers said:

I would ask you to be very careful. Yes, we all know of our tremendous park system. The city has used land exchanges to enhance the system many, many times, and we don’t want to take that away. The court has held that land transactions are inherently administrative. Council is wholly competent to make these decisions. I want to make sure and ask you to spend some time talking to the parks department about how land exchanges are performed. Historically, the city has used land exchanges… to the great benefit of the parks department.

Suthers noted there have been at least 16 land exchanges since the 1960s in which 267 acres of city land was traded to others for 638 acres for the city's park system.

"Garden of the Gods would not be what it is today without strategic land exchanges," Suthers said.

He also noted the city traded part of America the Beautiful Park to enable the Cimarron and Interstate 25 interchange. "You can’t hold up projects for a city election," he said. "There are circumstances where you have to act quickly."

Then Suthers spoke of impending trades but didn't name the developer involved. Could it involve the massive Banning Lewis Ranch?

I will tell you there’s a couple of land transactions that I’m confident you will unanimously think are in the interest of Colorado Springs, but it involves acting very quickly. And the developer isn’t going to sit around for two years for an election," Suthers said. "I personally believe it would be very bad public policy to say transactions of this nature have to go to the voters. You are incredibly competent to make these decisions.

It's worth noting that while Skorman and Obee followed the Council rule by limiting their comments to three minutes each, observers said Suthers was not held to the same limit.

Councilor Bill Murray pushed back, saying, "By making these [exchanges] inherently administrative, you make them at the whim and whimsy of whatever administration is in power at the time and whatever political forces ... I personally trust the voters. I trust their ability to make an informed decision, and I believe it belongs to you [voters], not an administrator."

Save Cheyenne's lawsuit alleging the land swap with The Broadmoor was illegal is pending in District Court.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Enjoy Sin City without the sin

Posted By on Sat, Dec 10, 2016 at 9:34 AM

Red Rocks Canyon Nat'l Conservation Area - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Red Rocks Canyon Nat'l Conservation Area
Las Vegas is a city of excess. There’s just too much of everything — too many people, too much traffic, too many buildings and lights. It's just too much.

Having grown up near Atlantic City, I’ve come to realize that the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas and Atlantic City is mostly just a front. That kind of scene isn't for me.

But if you find yourself in Las Vegas, as I did recently, and you feel the same way I do, you'll be happy to know there's plenty of outdoor recreation available to calm your nerves and satisfy your wander lust.

A little under 20 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area is a very beautiful park with plenty of trails to explore. At over 197,000 acres in size, there's something for everyone — hiking, cycling, rock climbing and 4-wheeling. A one-way, 13-mile loop leads as deep into the area as the majority of its 2 million visitors per year ever get. But, for the hiker there are many trails of various lengths and difficulty. I hiked to the top of Turtlehead Peak, roughly 5 miles round trip that starts off easy before becoming pretty strenuous. With over 2,000’ of elevation gain, the views are stunning, and the relatively small summit still boasts great 360° views. The trail is well marked, except for the last hundred feet or so to the summit.

There is a $7 per day entry fee to enter Red Rocks Canyon; if you have a “America the Beautiful Pass” you can get in without paying at the gate.

About 45 miles north east of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park was established as Nevada’s first state park in 1935. Exiting I-15, Valley of Fire Road drops down into a wide open valley of bright red rock formations, with canyons, arches and sandy dry washes. The red rocks in the park seemed brighter to me than similar places in the southwest and may have been why it was named the Valley of Fire. Besides the incredibly beautiful rock formations, there are hundreds of petroglyphs left from the ancient people who once inhabited the area.

There are a number of hiking trails in the park that are maintained by the park staff, but you are free to roam where ever you wish, unless otherwise posted. Valley of Fire is a mecca for landscape photographers, and my brief visit was spent mostly taking photos. With only a few hours to spend there, I elected to photograph the “Fire Wave,” a formation of sandstone with curves, waves and grooves of varying shades of red and orange. It’s not as big, or as famous as the “Wave” on the Utah/Arizona border, but it’s much easier to get to, and just as pretty and photogenic.

There is a $10 fee to enter Valley of Fire and since it is a state park, National Parks passes are not accepted.

Valley of Fire Park - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Valley of Fire Park

On the most northwestern edge of the Las Vegas metro area, at the dead end of a road through yet another relatively new housing development, is Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. Established in 2014, it has no entrance gate, no visitor’s center, no established trail system, no staff and a single ranger who, I believe, divides his time between the monument and a National Park Service office in Boulder City. On my visit, I found one small sign that indicated that a National Monument even existed, but the area is open to exploration if you have the time to visit.

Tule Springs Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument

This of course only scratches the surface of the outdoor recreational opportunities in the Las Vegas area. Death Valley is only a few hours west, Zion National Park a couple of hours northeast and the Grand Canyon is about 4 hours east. But if you find yourself in Las Vegas and need to get away from the maddening crowds, this should get you started.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Friday, December 9, 2016

Trump's pick for Interior no friend of America's parks, nonprofits say

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:16 AM

  • U.S. Forest Service
Environmental groups are up in arms over the nomination by President-elect Trump of Cathy McMorris Rodgers, an oil and gas friendly congresswoman, to lead the Interior Department.

The Center for Western Priorities writes:
DENVER—In response to reports that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to lead the Department of the Interior, the Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“This week, President-elect Trump told America he wants to follow in Teddy Roosevelt’s footsteps by conserving America’s parks and public lands. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, unfortunately, has shown little interest in the issues she would encounter on a daily basis as Secretary of the Interior.

“Before the Senate considers her nomination, the American people deserve to know where McMorris Rodgers stands on the issues facing our public lands today, particularly at a time when members of her party are encouraging the President-elect to take the unprecedented step of erasing national monuments from the map and selling off public lands.

“If Cathy McMorris Rodgers is confirmed, we hope she takes her new boss’s words seriously and follows in the conservation tradition of Teddy Roosevelt, not the robber barons who would have drilled, mined, and clear-cut their way across the West a century ago.”
In 2011, Cathy McMorris Rodgers was a co-sponsor of HR 1126, which would have sold off more than 3 million acres of public lands to private interests. This year, McMorris Rodgers voted against an amendment that would have prevented efforts to dispose of public lands outside of the established planning process. These positions should raise a red flag for anyone who values keeping our public lands public.

President-elect Trump this week promised to honor “the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, believe it or not, one of our great environmentalists.” When asked by a reporter earlier this year about proposals to “transfer” American public lands to states, Trump said, “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great, and you don’t know what the state is going to do. I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land.”

President-elect Trump’s statements are contradicted by the crusade by some members of Congress to dispose of public lands into state and private hands.
The Western Values Project also issued a statement, saying:
President-elect Donald Trump's nomination of Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, who has pushed for the sell off of public lands owned by all Americans, is drawing a stark contrast with his previously stated desire to honor “the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt” — the iconic President that led a massive expansion of America’s Parks System.

A longtime member of the political establishment in Washington, D.C., Congresswoman McMorris-Rogers has frequently opposed the expansion of national public lands, while taking a lifetime total of $357,340 from oil and gas companies. That record is a clear sign the next Department of Interior will prioritize resource extraction over the protection of important Western landscapes that drive the outdoor economy.

Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, issued the following statement in response to the nomination:

“Rep. McMorris-Rodgers traded Washington state’s conservation values for Washington, D.C.'s pay-to-play traditions a long time ago. During her long career in Congress she cozied up to special interests while openly leading the charge to privatize our nation’s public lands. If personnel is policy, then it’s fair to say the incoming administration is setting itself up to erase Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy of expanding and protecting our most valuable landscapes.
“The vast majority of Westerners believe that no one set of special interests should dominate the way our lands are managed. Far from draining the swamp, this pick is a clear sign that the incoming leadership is willing to rig the public lands system in favor of the extraction industry, and at the expense of access to public lands. If that’s the direction this administration goes, Westerners will hold them accountable for turning their backs on a core part of our heritage.

“The incoming administration has plenty of tools at its disposal if it wants to avoid the public lands problems of the past, and we'd be happy to be proved wrong about Congresswomen McMorris Rodgers’ commitment to making public lands work for everyone.”

1995 HEADLINE: “McMorris Seeks Halt to State Land Buys” As far back as 1995, then state representative McMorris Rodgers sponsored a bill to block a state Recreation Agency “from giving grants to buy land for parks, trails and other recreational lands.” She said at the time that “too much land is going off tax rolls and into public ownership.” [Bruce Rushton, “Legislature ’95: GOP Sends ‘Message’ With Bill on Park Lands,” The News Tribune, 02/06/95]

“McMorris said the state owns enough land, and instead of buying more land the state should manage what it owns more carefully.” She also said, “‘At a time when there's not enough funding for vital state services, the money saved should be used to fund prison and school construction.’” McMorris also “said when public lands are removed from a county tax base it is much more difficult for counties to maintain needed services.” [Staff, “McMorris Seeks Halt to State Land Buys,” The Wenatchee World, 02/12/95]

McMorris also said, “‘The government owns enough land in Washington state’.” [Michael Paulson, “Wildlife Program Threatened: GOP Wants to Curb State Land Purchases,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 02/23/95]

At a hearing on the proposal in March of 1995, McMorris “said ‘more public lands are not needed.’” [Michael Paulson, “Lobbying for State Land Buys Conservations Don’t Want a Bank,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 03/04/95]

“Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said changes are needed to limit funding for federal land acquisitions.” According to the Spokesman Review, “Federal land acquisitions are often poorly managed and inaccessible to the public, McMorris Rodgers said recently in a statement. If changes are made, it’s likely the fund could be back soon, she added. ‘As we look to reauthorization, we must bring the LWCF into the 21st Century,’ the Spokane Republican said. ‘I want to look at ways to strengthen our state and local parks and limit the practice of bureaucrats in (Division of Conservation Services) buying up large swaths of farmland and rangeland.’” [Kevin Graeler, “Republicans seek land funding change,” The Spokesman-Review, 10/04/15]

2012: McMorris opposes “removing lands from private ownership” in speech to logging industry At her 2012 keynote speech at the Society of American Foresters National Convention, McMorris Rodgers said “It is no coincidence that many of the counties with the highest unemployment rates in the country are those which are surrounded by federal forests.” McMorris’s speech advocated for return of national forests to local, private ownership saying “By removing lands from private ownership – and thus, from the local municipal tax rolls – the government stifles locally-driven development and makes rural communities more dependent on Washington, DC.”

2011: Cathy McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored “The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act” The bill would compel the Secretary of the Interior to sell federal lands throughout the West “previously identified as suitable for disposal.” [H.R. 1126, the Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act of 2011]

Since 2004, Cathy McMorris Rodgers has raked in $357,340 from the oil and gas industry. [Center for Responsive Politics - Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Industries, accessed 12/08/16]
But not everyone is critical of the selection of McMorris Rodgers. The Boulder-based Outdoor Industry Association says this in a release:
It is being reported that Donald Trump will nominate Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican representative for Washington State’s 5th Congressional District and Chair of the House Republican Caucus, to be the next Secretary of the Interior.

“As the outdoor industry well knows, the U.S. Department of the Interior is one of the most important cabinet offices for our issues,” said OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. “We believe we will have a productive and collaborative relationship with Representative McMorris Rodgers like the ones we enjoyed with Secretaries Jewell, Salazar, and Kempthorne before her.”

McMorris Rodgers currently represents several outdoor industry businesses in her district, understands that public lands and waters are the foundation of the massive $646 billion outdoor recreation economy, and was an original cosponsor of the Outdoor REC Act that was just signed into law.

When discussing the outdoor recreation economy, McMorris Rodgers said: “Here in the Northwest, spending time outdoors in nature is a way of life. For many, it’s a big part of the reason we choose to live here, and it also is an economic driver. In the West, there are 640 million acres of federal land. This land belongs to the people, and I believe it should be open to many types of activities — providing enjoyment and economic opportunity for local communities.”

OIA has an excellent relationship with McMorris Rodgers and her staff, and we would look forward to working with her to continue the investment in and protection of outdoor recreation on America's public lands.

  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Adding to the family, getting a dog

Posted By on Sun, Dec 4, 2016 at 9:38 AM

We're hoping to adopt this guy pretty soon. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • We're hoping to adopt this guy pretty soon.
I’ve had a few dogs in my lifetime. One or two when I was a kid, then some 30 years or so ago my wife gave me a 6 month-old Dalmatian as a Christmas gift. Fido came with us when we moved to Colorado 25 years ago. He lived to about 17 years old, a remarkably old age for that breed. Our similarly colored cat, Bebe, died some years ago at about 20 years old. We coddled our pets, and as with many — they were beloved members of our family.

With our work schedules, having pets would be a burden — not as much for us as for the pets. I’d be at work for at least 24 hours, my wife working long hours, too. So, for the last several years, we’ve been a home without any pets — even longer without a dog. Now that I’ve retired and no longer bound to a work schedule, and with hiking more and more miles each year, the time has come to change that.

The reasons for having a dog are many. On farms they may help round-up livestock. Hunters use them to flush out game. Many people use them as their eyes and ears, or to overcome other challenges. Public servants use them to flush out criminals, find missing people or locate evidence. But for most people, a dog is a pet — a companion. They're there to play, to cuddle, to run or hike. They're there when we’re in need of comfort.

I’ve missed not having a pet around the house. I want to share the happiness I see on the faces of other hikers I encounter on trails with their dogs. I want to relive the joy of coming home and being greeted by a four-legged family member who's happy to see me, no matter how rotten my day may have been.

So, to that end, I contacted All Breeds Rescue and Training a few weeks ago, inquiring about getting a dog.  My requirements were few: between one and three years old, already house-broken and big enough to accompany me on hikes. Before adoption, All Breeds' dogs are put into foster homes for some training to prepare them for their new homes. A couple of days ago, we met what we hope will be our new family member. A one-year-old pup of what looks to be Border collie and retriever mix, with a sweet disposition, smarts and a desire to play. We took to him instantly and vice versa.

Needless to say, we're very excited, and looking forward to welcoming him into our family — still working on a name, though.

To my followers on social media, I’ll apologize in advance for the plethora of dog pictures you’ll soon see posted from along the trails. Sort of like any proud new dad will do.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Photo Tour: Green Mountain, Boulder

Posted By on Sat, Oct 29, 2016 at 9:16 AM

  • Bob Falcone
If you're looking for someplace new to hike, or looking for a strenuous alternative to the Manitou Incline while it's closed for improvements, Green Mountain in Boulder is worth checking out. A somewhat strenuous hike, its reward is a lovely wooded area and very nice views at the summit. Take note, however, that this is a very popular place and parking nearby can be difficult to find. Even on the weekday that I did this loop, parking was at a premium. There is a $5 parking fee for any vehicles not registered in Boulder County. Dog control and leash regulations apply to various parts of this loop and are strictly enforced by Boulder County rangers and sheriff's office. Only half of this loop can be done with a dog — leashed or otherwise — so if you're bringing your dog, you will have to turn back at the summit.

(All distances given are approximated.)

To get there:  Take I-25 north to C-470. Take C-470 west until it crosses I-70 and joins U.S. 6. Take U.S. 6 north until it meets CO 93, and continue on CO 93 to Boulder.  In Boulder, turn west onto Baseline Road. Take Baseline Road to a sharp bend to the right. The Gregory Canyon Road is on the left at this bend, and the trailhead is at the end of the road.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Grand Canyon Prep Part III; new trails in Staunton State Park

Posted By on Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 10:17 AM

  • Bob Falcone
As my hike to the Grand Canyon's Phantom Ranch gets closer and closer, I've done more preparation for the adventure. 

The hike consists of two trails: the 7-mile South Kaibab Trail for the hike down, the 10-mile Bright Angel Trail for the hike back up. Given it's shorter distance, one would initially think that the South Kaibab Trail would be the better choice for the hike up, but there are a few reasons why this routing is used and recommended by the National Park Service.

The South Kaibab Trail is shorter because it's steeper, and while this doesn't make it a much of a joy for the downhill section, it would make going uphill even tougher, obviously — it's like going up the Manitou Incline vs. Barr Trail. Also, the Bright Angel Trail has shaded areas and fresh water, making the more strenuous and longer uphill section somewhat more comfortable.
The Phantom Ranch, located at the confluence of the Bright Angel and Phantom Creeks, was built in 1922, although, there's evidence that the location was used by Native Americans going back as far as 1050. John Wesley Powell, during his historic rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, was the first non-Native American to set foot at the site in 1869. It became popular with prospectors in the 1920's and exploded as tourist attraction after the prospectors left. The site now consists of a number of stone and wood buildings including cabins, men's and women's dorms, a dining hall, medical facility and even a helipad. Reservations are required to stay at the ranch, and are typically sold out over a year ahead of time.

As a photographer, I'm planning on taking plenty of pictures while on the trail and at the bottom, and the timing couldn't be better. The weekend of my trip coincides with the new moon, and while that means there won't be any full moon pictures, conditions will be perfect for taking photos of the Milky Way while it's overhead. (I learned how to take those kinds of photos earlier this year and look forward to putting that education to good use.)

As you can tell, I'm planning to make this trip more than just a hike.

Some local trails news:

  • Bob Falcone
  • Elk Falls
Last year I wrote about hiking the Elk Falls Overlook Trail at Staunton State Park, the newest  in Colorado's state park system. It's a gem of a park and continues to add outdoor recreation opportunities. I recently returned with a few friends to explore the new Chimney Rock and Elk Falls Trails, the latter of which takes hikers to the bottom of Elk Falls.

The trails are excellently constructed, and although the flow over the falls was much less than it would be during the spring, it was still pretty impressive. From Elk Falls we hiked to the Elk Falls Overlook, then back to the trailhead for a total of about 12.5 miles. Other trails have been built or re-routed and more trails are planned. Many of the trails in the park are multi-use, so bring your bike or your horse if you prefer. 

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Grand Canyon prep part II, and more local trail news

Posted By on Sat, Oct 8, 2016 at 10:40 AM

  • Bob Falcone
As you may recall from my previous blog, I am hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the end of the month, spending a couple of nights at the historic Phantom Ranch, and then hiking back up.  

Here's a progress report:  I've only hiked about 12 miles since last week, and not with as much elevation gain as I would've liked — blame it on being busy with other obligations.

By the time you read this, I should have hiked 12 more miles on a new trail. 

I saw an orthopedist about my chronic knee problem, too. He agrees it's again time for hyaluronic acid (rooster comb) treatment. Of course, we have to wait for the slow wheels of the insurance company to approve it — as if a 10-year successful history of treatment isn't enough to convince them. Hopefully we can get this done before the hike.

I've tightened up on my diet, after unsuccessfully "winging it" for a few months. I need the discipline of keeping better track of what I'm doing and wouldn't mind losing a few pounds before the hike.

When looking for a backpack for the hike, I found that there are lots of packs in various sizes up to about 25-liters, and lot more at 45-liters and above — I have both a 25- and a 50-liter pack — but not in the 35-liter range. To make matters worse, as a guy with only a 17" torso, finding a 35-liter pack for my size was difficult, not to mention also finding a comfortable one. The good people at Mountain Chalet had what I needed, and made sure it would fit me well. 

Overall, I'm still feeling very confident about doing this hike. As I check things off of the checklist that was provided by the organizers, and my own list, my level of anticipation increases, too.

I'll have more updates in a future blog.

Some Local Trail News:   
The U.S. Forest Service announced earlier in the week that road work that closed Mt Herman Road in Monument had been completed. The road has re-opened, allowing access to the very popular Mt Herman Trail.

Also, as of earlier this week, work was still on-going on the popular 7 Bridges Trail (Trail 622), but the trail is open up to the sixth bridge.

The Beulah Hill Fire in Pueblo County has caused significant damage, and as of this writing is being brought under control. The nearby Pueblo Mountain Park reported on their Facebook page that they had not been touched by the fire. I wrote about the park last year — it's a gem of a place, especially this time of the year. Once access to Beulah is re-opened (hopefully by the time you read this) you may want to take a ride down there and check out the fall colors and great trails.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
  • Favorite

Tags: , , , ,

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Check out that new bike lane on Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 1:03 PM


The city is hosting a community bike ride on Saturday so that cyclists can check out the new buffered bike lane on Research Parkway. 

The #RideOnResearch Community Bike Ride will start at 11 a.m. and stretch for four miles. Riders are also invited to visit Pizza Time, where participants can grab some food and talk to Paralympic Cyclist Chris Murphy.

The new bike lanes on Research are a pilot project. The city is taking comments on the new lane  and will decide later whether to make them permanent. Though cyclists have long asked for buffered bike lanes, the response to the lanes so far has come largely from motorists who do not like the lanes. 

Cycling groups have been urging area cyclists to try the new lanes and fill out the survey. They note that if these lanes are successful, the city would likely add more of them. But if the lanes are shot down, the city would likely be hesitant to install them elsewhere. 

Here are the ride details:

Calendar Event Date:
Sat. October 08th, 2016 - 11:00am
Try out the city's first buffered bike lane demonstration project at out #RideOnReseatvh Community bike ride.

Bike Ride
This 4-mile community bike ride will take riders along Research Pkwy to try out this new project and we’ll stop along the way for a special celebration with food and bicycle fun! Other connections available for riders looking for more of a challenge.

Ride departs Briargate YMCA, 4025 Family Place Saturday, Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. Riders meet in Children’s Hospital parking lot north of the YMCA.

Bicycle Event
11 a.m.-2 p.m. in front of Pizza Time in the Union Town Center (Union Blvd/Research Pkwy)

Meet Paralympic Cyclist Chris Murphy who just returned from competing in 2016 Rio Games, and the many organizations that support bicycling in Colorado Springs.

Giveaways for younger riders, and bicycle safety tips and games.

Great deals on pizza, shaved ice and drinks.

After the ride, be sure to check out our survey on the bike lanes: www.ColoradoSprings.gov/RideOnResearch

  • Favorite

Tags: , , ,

Recent Comments

All content © Copyright 2017, The Colorado Springs Independent

Website powered by Foundation