Steamboat Springs CO

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We plan on spending 3 or 4 weeks in the Moab UT area in late September and early October. Moab UT is world renown for is spectacular mountain biking. There are hundreds of miles of trails for all levels all within a 30 minute drive from town. People come from all over the world to ride some of the more unique trails. One of the trails in particular is a demanding 12 mile ride that is entirely on rock. The guide books say to ride this trail can take you 2 hours or 12 hours depending on skill. The other thing unique at least to us is that Moab UT sits at an elevation of 4000 feet. In the past when we would drive from Seattle to ride the trails on our spring vacation the adjustment to the altitude would take a few days. This time when we visit I want us all to be ready for the altitude so we do not miss out on any of the riding. It is also a good confidence booster for the kids if they do not quickly get winded when ride the fairly technical trails and can concentrate on the trail instead of trying to catch their breaths.   What does all of this have to do with Steamboat Springs CO you may ask? Well Steamboat Springs has an elevation of 7000 feet and most all of its hiking and biking trails go up from there. This is perfect training for all of us to get use to riding, hiking, and trail running at altitude.

We were able to find camping spots for us and my parents at Steamboat Lake campground. The campground was 25 miles outside of town out a long, winding road. The drive out was beautiful through expansive, lush, green valleys, surrounded by the tall, rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains. It was beautiful the first time, and the second time but after the third time it was just a really long slow driving road. We had to drive the road into town for all of the good biking trails, supplies and groceries. Our first morning at this campground was the first time we noticed that we had no warm clothes for Victoria. The first morning temperature was in the low 40’s. We have not been in that kind of cold for nearly 18 months and Victoria had outgrown all of her coats, sweaters and long pants. So we had to run to town to fix that oversight. The rest of us had to pull out our warmer clothes and have them ready for the morning hours. By the afternoon we were back into our normal uniforms of shirts and warm weather clothing as the temperatures in the afternoons would regularly reach into the 90s. The campground was a large site with good paths for the kids to ride on pavement and dirt trails down to the lake for some trail riding and running. Victoria spent many hours riding around the campground and back and forth to Grandma and Grandpa’s who were parked about 50 meters from us.

Ashley and I went in to town to assess the bike trails for the kids. It turned out that they were a little on the tough side. Not necessarily because of the difficulty but rather they started at 7000 ft elevation and went up. And up and up and up, with little relief for nearly 2 miles. And that was the easy trail. We decided that it would be best if we did not stress their confidence with this kind of lung busting riding so we just enjoyed the trails system ourselves for a few hours and then went back to our campground. I returned a few times myself to ride the trails in the morning and had a blast exploring and climbing to over 10000 feet and then descending the 3000 feet back to town. One morning when I was riding I came upon what I thought was a deer or elk in the bushes. I stopped and laid my bike down to take a picture because it was really close and coming out of the foliage and onto the trail I was on. Just I was about to pull out my phone to get a picture A large moose came out of the brush. I quickly found a big tree to hide behind as I remember that moose hurt more hikers per year than do bear, cougars, and wolves combined. This big guy just looked and me and kept walking across the trail and into the brush on the other side. I was just about to catch my breath when another came out behind the first. This one was much more curious about my bike laying alongside the trail and the goofy looking person hiding behind the tree. This one did come after me a little so I retreated farther into the brush hoping that it was not step on my bike and make me have to walk the 8 miles back to the car. Eventually it moved on too and I was able to get a quick picture of him before he left. The biking trails around Steamboat Springs were simply awesome. The climbing was a little tough but it got easier each time I did it and it was always worth it once I got up to where most of the good trails were located. And of course the thrill ride back down was a exhilarating of riding as I have ever done.

We went on two really amazing hikes while we were in Steamboat Springs. The first was an epic hike to an alpine lake at 10700 ft elevation. The hike was without question one of the most beautiful hikes we have ever done. My parents joined us for the 9 mile hike and they agreed it was absolutely amazing. I will let the pictures speak for themselves as I would not be able to express with words the beauty of the valleys of wildflowers, many creeks and jagged peaks that were around every bend of the trail. We also hike to the top of a treeless peak that was in the past used as a fire detection tower as it looks over mountain ranges for miles and miles in all direction. Victoria and Alexander went to the top of both these hikes with ease. They have quickly adapted to hiking at altitude. We have a game we play with the kids that challenges them on uphill hikes. The deal is that they get ½ hour of screen time on their kindles or laptops for any of the games we have downloaded for every adult under the age of 60 that we pass while going uphill. If they pass someone and then that person passes us again then they lose an hour. The kids love this and sometimes Ashley and I regret it as Alexander will chase down every person he sees ahead of us. And he does not get slowed down by steep hiking so it often leaves Ashley and I gasping for air and legs burning as we trying to keep up with them. It is really fun to watch them push themselves and also set a pace to coordinate when to pass and when not to pass so as not to get passed again.

Gilpin Lake
One of dozens of creek crossings that day
Victoria trekking up the hill
Grandma Murphy checking our some of the wildflowers
Team Murphy one our way to Gilpin Lake
Grandma and Grandpa Murphy rockin’ a tough but beautiful hike
Ashley leads us up through a beautiful hillside meadow
Making our way up the trail while Alexander checks on his grandparents.
Still climbing but enjoying the views
Still smiling (kind of) despite the climbing
One more ridge to cross. The lake is above the ridge line on the right
Checking on Grandma again. Trust us they are back there.
Here they are! Grandma and Grandpa Murphy are still smiling after 4 miles of climbing. We are at an elevation here of nearly 10,000 ft!
Alexander holding Grandma’s hand for the final steep part
The final steps to the lake. They made it. 10,800 ft elevation.
Enjoying the lake front view. Note the green covered pass on the far right side of the lake.
View down to the lake from the top of the green covered pass.
Dan’s Pass
Victoria and Alexander all smiles checking on the river valley on our way back down from Gilpin Lake
Hahn’s Peak hike. From the fire lookout tower.
Hahn’s Peak from the trailhead.
Panoramic view from the top of Hahn’s Peak.
Victoria, Alexander and I are watching for any fires in the distance. Great view of the Rocky Mountains!
Looking down on Steamboat Lake and our campground. Our camper is down there somewhere.
A cute little fox Ashley and I saw on one of our early morning mountain bike rides
One of my moose buddies just before he began to chase me.
Even with all this fun, there is still time for school. That’s right, no such thing as summer break in the Murphy Academy. P.S. They know nothing about summer break from school. They have never had one.
Alexander’s customary post-hike nap on the car ride home. Typically begins 5-10 minutes after he gets in the car. The downfall to these naps is that by time we arrive at the campground he is ready to go again just as mom and dad are ready to rest.

One comment

  1. Amazing photos!! Moab is also REALLY COLD when the sun goes down…we visited in October in 2019 and after 1 night camping…we canceled the 5 days we were planning to camp in Moab and stayed in a hotel. Better for us to sleep well through the night to have all of our energy in the day.

    Moab also has the most gigantic cinnamon roll I have ever seen at a lot of cafes…but we got one from red rock bakery/cafe..perfect to leave on the dashboard and ‘warm in the sun’ for a post biking/hiking carb attack.



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