Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Devil's Head fire lookout
Let’s face it, we all love the outdoors that’s why we’re members of the Sierra Club but how many of us get a chance to truly appreciate the beauty all around us in this wonderful place we call Colorado?  I’m new here & after spending the majority of my life in the Midwest, I have come to love the beauty that is this lovely state.  I joined the Sierra Club nearly 20 years ago & appreciate their mission to protect, educate & to bring to light the things we all need to do to make this place a better place.  My mission though is simply to enjoy the beauty around me.  I have been inspired to write this column in the tradition of John Muir who was one of many that formed the Sierra Club so many years ago.  His often quoted words “The mountains are calling & I must go!” is the way I’ve always lived my life.

I hope in this space that I can bring to you the beauty of the natural world as I see it.  As the chapter outings grow I hope I can share with you what it’s like to be a participant in these hikes & educational opportunities.  For now, I will share with you beautiful places that I have discovered, hikes that I have gone on & a few pictures to show you, even as a mire glimpse, the beauty all around us in this state.

 The hike I want to share with you today is the Devil’s Head fire lookout trial near Sedalia, Co.  Although in distance this hike appears to be an easy one (1.5 miles each way) the sheer gain in altitude makes it challenging for the novice hiker.  There are many side trails to venture off onto & our hike turned into 5.5 miles with trying to take everything in.

First I must caution you that the road to reach the trailhead although mentioned as improved is a dirt road with many ruts & bumps so I would advise driving in a 4 wheel drive vehicle that can take some of the abuse.

Parking at the trailhead is at a premium, getting there before 10:00 am is strongly advised so you can find a place to park.  There are alternate places but they will add a mile or so to your total journey.  The trailhead is at the end of the parking area & pretty easy to find.

Immediately you begin the elevation gain, the trail is easy to follow & well maintained but be prepared for a long trek up, in the 1.5 miles you gain nearly 1,000 feet.  The first thing I notice is the forest that surrounds you at the start, beautiful Aspen’s & a great shield from the morning sun.  I look to the right & see this huge boulder how do they just sit there?

As we continue our ascent the trail at various places opens up to amazing views   The beauty of the panoramic views around you on this trail is well worth the pain of the elevation gain.  Depending on how far you venture off the trail you can easily see Pikes Peak to the south & Rocky Mountain National Park to the north.  Take your time & enjoy each of the views that open up in front you.  Venture off the path up the rocks in various places & see the beauty of the forest all around you.

Soon you’ll reach a flat area with the forest rangers house.  There are pit toilets here but no water so make sure you bring plenty with you.  You think you’ve made to the top but really your journey has just begun.  The next part of the hike is up some 150 stairs to the top of the fire lookout tower (insert picture 4).   Although climbing these many steps to the top can be a challenge on its own, I can tell you with certainty that it’s well worth the effort.  The views from the top are simply amazing & if you stop in the working “office” at the top you can become an honorary member of the “Ancient & Honorable order of the Squirrels” & receive a card stating so for your efforts.

The decent is fairly easy after making all the climb on the way up, I would suggest a detour on the way down to the Zinn Overlook trail for more amazing views & a great shot up to the fire tower.

All & all a wonderful time.  I would plan 3 hours for this hike with stops & the time to truly enjoy the fire tower.

I hope you enjoyed this, if you have hikes you want to share let me know your favorites.

                                                                            Till next time,