Goldendoodle & Chihuahua: First Hike (Attempted)

So being who I am, I figured, “Why not take the dogs on a hike?” I know it may seem out of place to take a Chihuahua hiking, but this is the same dog who can eat a meal his very own size. Maybe that doesn’t seem to compare, but what I really mean is that Pancho is capable of behaving beyond normal. I knew Dexter would fare well, anyway.

By the way, we were camping at DeWeese Reservoir. James does not appreciate hiking as much as I. There weren’t exactly any interesting short or easy trails in Westcliffe. In the end, I chose Lake of the Clouds trail. It was supposed to be a little over 10 miles long. Honestly, I did not expect to complete it while in the company of two dogs who have never had the experience.

Our first mistake was starting for the trailhead around noon. After that, we just couldn’t find the actual trailhead until about an hour after parking. It was only a matter of going farther up. Anyway, we found a detour that led to a tiny camping area where we took a break. Dexter had his way with the creek. Pancho didn’t exactly care for it.

Eventually, we began the actual trail. I had no clue as to what time it was. There are two paths that lead to the lake, but we decided to use the one on the right. Obviously, we did not go very far. The prospect of rain, and the fact that we had all reached certain levels of tiredness and irritability, prevented us from completing the trail. We weren’t exactly planning on camping out there either.

So how did the dogs manage? There weren’t that many hikers, but they barked at a lone woman when we were ascending. Then they growled at a group during our descent. Not to mention the fact that a trio of horses being led by a man seem to bother them as we returned to the parking area. Dexter is a one-speed animal, but he does enjoy leading. Pancho barely lagged behind. He certainly tried to lead when the trail went downhill. There was some difficulty with getting over small fallen trees, but he managed. Overall, I would not hesitate to bring them along on any trail that isn’t steep (I don’t know if we’ll ever get there). Next time, I will try not to make the same mistakes. I would like to see how far Dexter and Pancho can really go.

Camping at DeWeese Reservoir

So this time around, James and I decided to take the dogs camping with us. We accompanied our friends Les and Jan to Westcliffe, Colorado. Camping at DeWeese Reservoir is actually free of charge. There are two options: the shaded pine tree area up the hill or anywhere around the lake. Les and Jan have their camper, and the lake area is better suited for that; therefore, we joined them by the lake.

No electricity or running water is provided. Several unisex restrooms can be found spread around the lake. Generators are permitted. Someone had their’s on 24/7, and it was somewhat annoying to be honest.

Of course, dogs are allowed. I’m not sure if we were expected to clean after their messes (We didn’t). Pancho (Chihuahua) and Dexter (Goldendoodle) certainly had a lot of fun.

I was the only one who didn’t fish, but the others tried. Overall, Les caught a trout by leaving the pole out overnight. Other than that, I cannot say there was any luck. As for the weather, it was the typical random mess that is Colorado. There was heat and blue skies, sprinkling, overcast, heavy winds, and cold nights–all in one day, each day. Our phones barely had one bar most of the time.

I can’t deny that the camper was convenient with all it’s amenities. We only spent the first night in our tent and the other two nights in the camper with Les and Jan. It was ridiculous considering how we struggled to move and rearrange the tent during a short wind storm. I still enjoyed my time there, but I definitely missed taking a warm shower. It’s just not the same cleaning up with a washcloth. Oh well. The dogs definitely didn’t have that issue.

Gem Lake and Lily Mountain Hikes

Let’s start off by mentioning that the Gem Lake trail from the Lumpy Ridge trailhead is free. There is no national park fee even though it is located in the Rocky Mountain National Park. This hike is considered moderate. It took about 3 hours for us to complete it, though we did spend some time making friends with the local chipmunks and took several snack and water breaks. We are more like amateur hikers in case you wondered. I just happen to be fitter with an addiction to cardio.

The Lily Mountain trail is also free since it is located in the Roosevelt National Park. Yes, you can take a dog with you. I would not deem it rational to drag along any animal other than one that is at least medium size and fit. This particular hike is considered moderate, but it is definitely challenging. I believe it took us 4 hours to complete.

The Gem Lake trail was okay, but I prefer Lily Mountain. Even though there was the small Gem Lake (more like a pond) at the end, Lily Mountain was more strenuous and exciting. I am glad my husband decided to force me to climb the large rocks to the left (the right is higher up). It made the finale of the hike worth it. So, yes, I recommend a bit of mountaineering if you have the courage to do so. I believe it made a difference.



First Time Camping Experience/2nd Wedding Anniversary in Estes Park

I must be that one American who hasn’t experienced many “American” things in life. No, I had never been camping before; therefore, my husband thought it would be a good idea to try it for our second wedding anniversary. We traveled about 4 hours away to Estes Park since that is where we were married. It made sense. Our chosen camping area was the Estes Park Campground at Mary’s Lake. Obviously, my husband had me start off easy. The campground was in the middle of Estes Park and had extra amenities.

We picked a tent spot without electricity, but it was near the restroom and showers building. It’s decent to have flushing toilets. I didn’t even mind paying $2 for a 6-minute shower each time. Let me just say that shaving is annoying. Looking back, I would have filled a bowl with water and shaved as much as possible while in the shower before turning on the shower head. Otherwise, it’s $0.25 for every extra 30 seconds of shower. The office, store, and laundry area were all within one building located at the entrance. If I remember correctly, the washer was $2 per load while the dryer was $0.25 per 7 minutes. Also, there was a tiny pool that was supposedly heated (I felt it was chilly). They even provided free drinking water.

Mary's Lake Campground
Mary’s Lake Campground

The camping spots are definitely within close range. I found humor in that. It’s almost certain that neighbors heard everything from flatulence, bickering, and sex. Altogether, the experience may not be considered real camping, but I think it’s a start. I see myself eventually backpacking for days at a time in the future–not necessarily the near future, but you know… We actually made several mistakes in forgetting a tarp, an extra cooking pot, extra blankets, my husband’s jacket, warmer pajamas for me, and several other things. Thank God for thrift stores. See the convenience in the location? I froze during the first night.

View from inside tent

Cooking was fair enough. There was a fire pit. We traveled with our own firewood which wasn’t recommended, but we like to cut corners. I may have still preferred the small propane gas stove for certain foods. Potatoes take forever to fully cook in the fire pit. Then again that’s just me being a Millennial. Meat certainly does taste better with the smoke. We had s’mores twice, of course. I had to bring my own dairy and gluten-free crackers. It’s kind of difficult finding certain food items at many stores. I like to avoid the Safeway in Estes Park and prefer to take my introverted business to the Country Market. Anyway, it’s not too bad having to keep the cooler filled with ice. It did cost about $2 once or twice a day (It depends on the weather).

We spent our early mornings, late evenings, and nights enjoying the experience since we were out most days. It seemed like everyone else just left their tents unlocked with varying levels of belongings when they would go out. Theft isn’t an issue as far as I know. Anyway, we hiked Gem Lake trail the first day. On the second day we fished at the marina and Mary’s Lake with no luck. There was a lot of that going around. Since we fished at different locations and times, we did walk around downtown, and we visited the Estes Park Museum. We completed the Lily Mountain trail on the third day. All of these activities were free other than the one-day fishing license ($9) and the one-day parking permit at the marina ($5).

Overall, I had an enjoyable time at Estes Park. Fishing was kind of, eh, but I liked the campground, the hiking, the local history museum, and walking around the town. Other individuals may not find it such a romantic way to spend an anniversary, but I thought it was fine. It’s not like we didn’t hold hands while walking around town (we are those people). I liken hiking up a mountain, as a couple, to life’s random ascents and descents. My husband sacrificed himself so that I could have my fun. I don’t want to sound perverted, but our camping location resulted in a row of 3-4 couples in their twenties during that week. Basically, the nights were not that cold, quiet, or lonely. In the end, I would do it all again with better organization, longer hiking, and maybe with the company of our Goldendoodle. The poor Chihuahua wouldn’t make it…