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windWow!  What a difference dropping my mileage down to normal makes.  After dropping from 100 to 50 miles, I’m running fast again.  It doesn’t hurt though that the temperature has also dropped – down to what I consider football weather.  Call me foolish but I even ran without my hat and sunscreen.  And the kids returned to school this week.  It just keeps getting better.  I ended the week by hiking in the Indian Peaks Wilderness with Ellie today.  A bit blustery up there.

Brainard LakeIn fact, the intense wind kept us from climbing to the top of Mount Audubon.  Couldn’t complain though because the wind also swept out the smoke from the Washington State forest fires.  You can see the smoke in several of the photos if you click to enlarge them.  The high altitude smoke was thickest north of us over Rocky Mountain National Park.  Ellie has some asthma related issues so I checked the Colorado air quality index before committing to the hike.  We saw a bull moose here next to Brainard Lake during our first few minutes starting out.

Longs PeakEllie and I found ourselves constantly adding and removing gear.  The temperature was fairly cool starting out, although the trees shielded us from the wind.  The climb quickly warmed us up so we stowed away our coats and hats in our backpacks, only to put them back on along with gloves once we rose above tree line.  Same routine in reverse on our descent.  The flat topped peak above and to the right of Ellie’s head in this photo is Longs  Peak.  I’ll be hiking up there next weekend with some buddies.

Mt AudubonThis is Mount Audubon directly over Ellie’s head in the photo to the right.  We climbed nearly up to the snow field before turning back.  On the way down we turned north onto the Beaver Creek trail for a short ways and bushwhacked over to a rock cropping to catch the views.  The entire hike was about seven miles because we started from a parking lot one mile before the Mitchell Lake Trailhead.  Looks like a brand new parking lot with restrooms on the east end of Brainard Lake.  They’ve done a great job improving the parking in the Brainard Lake Recreational Area.  I didn’t see any cars parked on the road like in days past.

Beaver LakeThis is Beaver Lake behind Ellie in this photo.  Karen and I have snowshoed near there on the Sourdough Trail before.  Ellie and I also hiked around Brainard Lake a bit on the return.  Ellie couldn’t get over how blue the water was.  Mountain lakes are absolutely gorgeous.  I can’t wait to get back up here next weekend to hike Longs Peak.