Monday, October 1, 2012

Rattlesnake Gulch Trail

I thought Eldorado Canyon was spectacular when I first visited back in early September.  But I thought it would be even more enjoyable when the temperature was a little cooler. A return trip today to hike the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail with Jay Keller gave me the chance to test that theory.

A spur off the main trail went right up to some railroad tracks, and after deciding to wander up we had the good fortune to get there right when a train was rumbling through the tunnel.  I'm a big fan of serendipity, but it definitely involves being willing to get outside of your routine and make an unexpected choice once in a while.

I expected the tunnel to be longer for some reason.  But being short enough to easily make out the opposite end helped make for an interesting image.

It's a good thing we didn't go a couple of steps farther, because that would have been trespassing.

My prediction that cooler weather would equate to a better experience definitely turned out to be accurate.  The conditions were gorgeous, with the fall colors making the area even more beautiful than a month ago.

Jay knew of yet another side path that led to an overlook where you could see out to the Continental Divide.  The sun was too high in the sky to get any really striking photos of the vista, but the outcropping we were on was interesting in its own right.

I thought the 3.6 miles and 1,200 feet of elevation gain would be a solid workout.  Jay thought it would be a good test for the ribs he broke a few weeks ago.  If I broke multiple ribs a few weeks ago, I'd probably just now be testing things like getting out of bed.

The trail goes past some ruins from the Crags Hotel, which burned down in 1912.  A twisted metal pot still hangs in what's left of the kitchen's main cooking area.  I have a really hard time believing that pot has been hanging there for a hundred years, but I don't have any other good explanations for it.

Green and gold aren't the only colors we get in the fall.  You can find some nice vibrant reds, too.

Being men with flexible schedules, we tacked another mile or so onto our trek and headed down the Fowler Trail.  We scanned the sheer rock faces on the far side of South Boulder Creek for raptors, but never saw any.

It took us three leisurely hours to cover roughly five miles.  Like Lair o' the Bear, Fowler Trail is another fairly flat option for out-of-town guests who think they want to go for a hike when they come to visit but don't really understand what that typically entails out here.

A return trip with the family is definitely in order, probably in the spring when the creek is running high and I can set up a tripod to get some nice waterfall shots!

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