Manitou Incline Work Day Sept 13, 2014

September 10th, 2014

Manitou Incline to Barr Trail Connector

This Saturday, September 13, will be the first of 3 work days this fall for the Manitou Incline. The other 2 are October 11th and November 1st.

Manitou Incline Repair WorkTimberline Landscaping is doing the hard work on the Incline while it’s closed for repairs through the end of November/early December. They’ve been using a helicopter to move heavy equipment and material up to the steep part of the Incline.

This first work day for volunteers will be on the trail that connects the top of the Incline to Barr Trail. This connector trail has been a social trail with serious erosion issues and multiple paths. The social trails will be closed and a new sustainable trail will be built.

Participants must be 12 years or older, anyone under 18 must have a guardian accompany them during the workday. Check-in/late registration the morning of will begin at 7:30 a.m., in the Barr Parking Lot. The project will begin at 8 AM and end at 3:30 PM. Please come prepared to work the entire day and hike 3 miles up Barr Trail to the project work site.

Tools will be provided and brought to the project work site by staff. You will need to bring and hike with your own gloves, water, hat, sunscreen and lunch.

You can sign up by going to the Colorado Springs Parks and Rec volunteer page and searching with the keyword “incline”. The direct link for the September 13 work day is here

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Bear Creek Trail Closure Proposals

March 25th, 2014

Jones Park

A few weeks ago the Forest Service had an open house about proposed trail closures due to the greenback cutthroat trout in Bear Creek. I’m not convinced they’ve studied the impacts of the trail well enough to say they’re a problem but because of settling a lawsuit with environmental groups it probably doesn’t matter what the impact is. The US Fish and Wildlife Service must approve any trail work in the Bear Creek drainage including current trail maintenance.

At the open house, 3 alternatives were shown. Alternative A is the current trail system and we know that there’s very little chance the trails will remain the same in the future. Alternatives B and C have various trail closures and re-routes.

Both new alternatives would still allow the “Missing Link” trail to be created to link Barr Trail to the Jones Park area but would make it longer because of going around Jones Park and I believe add an uphill section. Also with both proposals, High Drive would be closed to vehicle traffic but would be open to non-motorized use.

Alternative B has all of Jones Park off limits and the upper part of Bear Creek Trail (666) closed. A trail re-route from Pipeline would keep Captain Jacks away from Bear Creek and connect where Captain Jacks currently drops down from the ridge to the creek and intersects with 666. A connector would be created from Buckhorn over to 666 near Josephine Falls.

I believe Alternative C is the same as Alternative B except that all of Bear Creek Trail (666) would be closed. I don’t think you’ll find it surprising that I don’t like this plan.

One part of “Alternative B” that I’m not sure is necessary is the complete closure of Jones Park at least to non-motorized use as that area is flatter and doesn’t have nearly the erosion issues of lower on Cap’n Jacks. Most of Jones Park is Colorado Springs Utilities land and I don’t think they want to make sure they have no risk with the greenback cutthroat trout.

One effect of closing Jones Park is access to Mt. Arthur and Mt. Garfield will be more difficult. It would be nice if a trail could be built from the Section 16 area to allow more access into that area. Also there are ruins of historic buildings in the Jones Park area that would be off limits.

It’s not clear how long it will be before the whatever plan is approved will be implemented. The US Fish and Wildlife Service have until late summer to approve the plan the Forest Service submits to them.

I talked to Forest Ranger Allan Hahn at the meeting last month about how soon trail re-routes could be done after a plan was approved. Although the Forest Service doesn’t have money for the changes, he believes the plan could be implemented in a matter of weeks since so many people are willing to volunteer to get access to the area. I’m not optimistic that with all the government red tape that volunteers would be turned loose to get the re-routes done that quickly.

Now it’s time to move forward and get the best possible trails under the circumstances. Input on the proposals can be sent to the Forest Service by emailing bcc@fs.fed.us, faxing (719) 477-4233 or mailing. Comments must be received by March 27th, 2014. One thing a found from talking to the Forest Service is they don’t understand very well how people use the trails and that it would be helpful to them to know more.

The Gazette did an article that includes some of history of the Bear Creek area. Someone who is fighting against any closures also has history on the area with historic photos. At this point, I don’t believe fighting the changes is productive but the page has some interesting information.

Below is the letter the the Peak Mtb Collective has been asking people to sign at the informational meetings they’ve held. Use it as is or as a starting point for your feedback to the Forest Service. Also go to the Peak Mtb Collective page and sign up for email updates on the Bear Creek drainage trails and other Colorado Springs area trail issues.

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Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project
Pikes Peak Ranger District
601 S. Weber Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
719-477-4233
bcc@fs.fed.us

In reviewing the proposed changes to travel management and recreational activities and the improvement actions for the stream habitat in the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project (BCWRP) area, I understand that the project’s purpose is to protect the greenback cutthroat trout as well as to maintain a balance among the many trail user groups. The area in question has a well-established, recognized trail system that is important to the outdoor lifestyle for which the Pikes Peak region is known.

As an avid user of the Bear Creek area and Pikes Peak region trail systems, I am aware of the important balance we share with our eco-system. I have read full through the proposed BCWRP proposals and I support “Alternative B” as the action plan for implementation by the Pikes Peak Ranger District. I believe “Alternative B” supports the objective of protecting the greenback cutthroat trout as well as offering a balance between access and use of this vast trail system.

Acknowledging that change is needed in the area, “Alternative A” offers little compromise regarding the ecological concerns of the project. “Alternative C” offers limited compromise by significantly limiting trail access including the complete closure of trail 666. I believe either of these plans hinders involved groups’ respective goals and could have negative long term effects.

I want to thank everyone involved in the project and look forward to seeing “Alternative B” move forward. I also extend myself as a resource in the implementation of “Alternative B” in the Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project.

Free National Parks Days 2014

January 19th, 2014

Navajo Arch in Arches National Park

Navajo Arch in Arches National Park

133 of the 401 national parks charge an entrance fee but the National Park Service has a few free days a year. For 2014 the first free day is Monday, January 20th for Martin Luther King Day. You can find the parks that normally charge a fee but are free on these days on this list.

Free National Park Days 2014

  • January 20 -Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 15-17 – Presidents Day weekend
  • April 19-20 – opening weekend of National Park Week
  • August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
  • September 27 – National Public Lands Day
  • November 11 – Veterans Day

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Friends of Ute Valley Park

April 19th, 2013

Ute Valley Park

I live close to Ute Valley Park. It’s a beautiful 338 acre open space surrounded by neighborhoods but it’s easy to feel like you’re outside the city. I’ve been mountain biking in it for years and now that I live close I hike in it with my family.

Ute Valley is a popular with hikers, runners and mountain bikers. It has become more heavily used since the Waldo Canyon Fire closed Mountain Shadows Open Space and Blodgett Peak Open Space.

Most people don’t know that about the eastern half of the area is not part of the park but is owned by HP. There are a few No Trespassing signs near trails at the HP property boundary but people have freely used trails on HP property. Last summer’s Pro XCT in Ute Valley Park course included trails on the HP property.

Concerns about the HP property being developed and the increase in social trails prompted the creation of the Friends of Ute Valley Park (FUVP) last fall. Ute Valley has been the last Colorado Springs open space without a friends group.

Friends of Ute Valley Park Earth Day FlyerI’ve been working on the Friends of Ute Valley Park website the last couple months. I still have plenty to do on it but we’re using it post new on the park. We also have a FUVP Facebook page.

Tomorrow, Saturday April 20th, there will be an Earth Day event at the Ute Valley Park parking lot on Vindicator 9-11 AM. The park ranger, Friends of Ute Valley Park and Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates will be there with information. There will also be a brief maintenance project and park clean up. Please come out and join us.


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Trails Around Jones Park Could be Closed

April 4th, 2013

Jones Park Above Colorado Springs

Last year it was determined that the 750 greenback cutthroat trout living in Bear Creek near Jones park are the only genetically pure greenback cutthroat left. The US Forest Service was sued by environmental groups for not sufficiently protected these fish. Last fall Bear Creek Trail (666) and Captain Jacks Trail (667) were closed to dirt bikes and camping was prohibited in the area.

I’ve been hiking and riding these trails for over 25 years. Here’s a Jones Park ride report from a couple years ago. The Ring the Peak mountain bike race also uses these trails.

Now the Forest Service is proposing closing 3.5 miles of trail along Bear Creek to all users. While I’m for protecting the fish and agree there’s still erosion problems in spite of all the work the dirt bike groups have done, I have trouble believing closing the trails is necessary.

It seems strange that such a heavily used area is the only place that the fish have survived. Since they have survived, why is it necessary to close the trails? It seems that rerouting the trail in places and adding more erosion control should be sufficient.

The USFS has a webpage with a several detailed documents on the assessment process. The detailed trail assessment includes a map of the affected trails.

The proposal has some possible trail reroutes and at least one would allow connection to the proposed Missing Link Trail which would be really cool to have completed. The information on these possible reroutes start on page 74 of the trail assessment document. Medicine Wheel has some good comments on the proposals.

Tonight, Thursday March 4th, there will be an Open House from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Leon Young Service Center (1521 Hancock Expressway, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80903).

If you can’t make the open house, you can provide comments through April 30th, 2013 by mail, fax, or email to:

Bear Creek Watershed Restoration Project
Pikes Peak Ranger District
601 S. Weber Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
(719) 477-4233 fax
bcc@fs.fed.us

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Current Outdoor and Cycling Deals

March 28th, 2013

Outdoor Gear

Spring is here and it’s time to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Here are several current outdoor deals if you’re in need of some new gear.

Updated April 6th

Backcountry.com

Backcountry.com has a huge selection of outdoor gear including bikes and gear. Now through April 7th, you can get 20% off one full price item with code SAVE20.

REI

REI Memebers save 20% on 1 Full-Price Item on REI.com plus 1 Item on REI-OUTLET with coupon code MEM2013. Not a member? It’s only $20 for lifetime membership and they target giving 10% of qualifying purchases back as a dividend each year.

Sierra Trading Post

Save an additional 15-25% during the Sierra Trading Post Spring Sale. They also have a couple coupon codes that are good through May 8th.

Tahoe Mountain Sports

Save 20% on up to 2 full priced items. Use promo code: New2 – Offer Expires 4/17, some restrictions apply.

CampSaver

CampSaver has an extra 20% off sale items in their Outlet with code OUTLET-20. In addition, Big Agnes, Granite Gear and Exped are on sale in their main store. Expires April 10th.

Fontana Sports

Take an additional 20% OFF all Snowboards, Snowboard Boots & Bindings (already reduced up to 40% off). Use Coupon Code: A20SNB

Jenson USA

Jenson USA is running their 3 Million Dollar Bike Sale. Get up to 58% off complete bikes. 74 models to chose from.

Moosejaw

Take 20% off almost everything at Moosejaw. Shop spring styles from top brands like Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Icebreaker, Lole and Prana (and tons more) all at 20% off. No code necessary. Free Shipping on All Orders $49+. Ends April 14th.

evo

Get extra 20% off all items in their outlet for their last chair outlet event. Use the code: last chair to receive the discount. Ends today, March 28th.

They are also selling all of their Ski and Snowboard goods at major discounts, up to 50% off on many 2013 items in the main store. No code necessary for the main shop.

Konasports

Get an additional 15% off already discounted items in their Outlet section with coupon code OUTLETDAYS. Ends April 1st.

TriVillage.com

TriVillage is offering 20% off over 600 items for triathlon, road cycling, and mountain biking with coupon code: DEALS20. If you want something that’s not included, you can use DEALS18 and save 18% on any other regularly priced items site wide! Also, TriVillage offers free shipping over $75 which just adds to the savings! Expires March 29th.

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Manitou Incline No Trespassing Sign Photo Opp

February 22nd, 2013

Manitou Incline No Trespassing Sign Removed

The No Trespassing sign was removed from the Manitou Incline the end of January since the Incline became legal to hike on February 1st. The Incline Friends are giving you an opportunity this weekend to get your photo with the Incline No Trespassing sign one last time.

This Saturday and Sunday, February 23rd and 24th, the Incline Friends will have the old Manitou Incline No Trespassing sign at the bottom of the Incline from 7 AM until 11 AM. Donate at least $5 to help with maintaining the Incline and they’ll take your picture alongside the sign.

They’ll e-mail the photo to you or they can use your camera if you like. No limit to the number of people in the shot so bring your friends. This will be your last opportunity to get a photo with the sign and the Incline before it’s retired to the Pioneers Museum.

If you plan on heading up the Incline after getting a photo, be very careful. After a dry winter, the snows the last couple weeks have finally made the Incline snowy and icy. Make sure you have traction devices such as Stabilicers Lite, Yaktrax or Kahtoola Microspikes .

Speaking of the Incline and snow, Roger Austin shared some great photos from this morning’s sunrise on the Incline. I really wish I would have been up there to see it.

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UpaDowna Incline Happy Hour

February 7th, 2013

UpaDowna Incline Happy Hour

This is the first Thursday since the Manitou Incline was legalized. This means it’ll be the first legal UpaDowna Incline Happy hour. However until time change next month, the dawn to dusk rule will be broken.

The Incline Happy Hour was started a few years ago by the great folks at UpaDowna. Their motto is “Up a Mountain, Downa a Beer”. Their goal is to get more people in the outdoors.

Now that the Manitou Incline is legal, UpaDowna is encouraging more people to join them. They start at the bottom tie of the Incline (directions) at 6 PM and hike to the top of the Incline.

The hike takes place year round but know your limitations as the Incline can get icy and treacherous in the winter. It’s a self paced hike and not a race. It doesn’t matter what your fitness level. Generally people hang out at the top for a bit and then most head down Barr Trail.

Until time change you’ll need a headlamp to be able to see in the dark. You can also get by with a flashlight but then your hands aren’t free for balance.

Afterwards head to Kinfolks Mountain Shop in Manitou Springs. Enjoy one of the micro brews they have on tap or us hang out with other outdoor lovers. It’s located just east of Ruxton at 950 Manitou Avenue.

Although it’s free to join the Incline Happy Hour, you need to register and sign the waiver on Eventbrite. Not only is it a fun time, but there may be prizes for signing up and staying motivated throughout the year.

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Exploring the Grand Canyon with Google Street View

February 1st, 2013

Grand Canyon Street View

Back in October Google had posted on their blog that they had a team hiking in the Grand Canyon to get imagery for Street View. I figured they were just doing a couple of the main trails. They now have 75 miles of trails and surrounding roads live in Google Maps.

The Google team their Android-operated Trekkers to take the imagery. They carried 40-pound backpacks with the 15-lens camera system. More than 9,500 panoramas are now available on Google Maps.

In 2006 and 2008 I did week long backpacking trips in the Grand Canyon. I went west farther than most people go for the first trip. The trail was hard to find and I didn’t see anyone for 3 days. The 2nd trip I hiked the eastern part of the Grand Canyon and even went a little east of where the National Park ends.

I can tell you there’s no way to comprehend the size of the canyon looking at a computer screen. Still I have to say what Google has done is pretty cool.

Some cool places to check out are the bridge across the Colorado River to Phantom Canyon, Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail and the Meteor Crater. Maybe those will motivate you to take an adventure of your own in the Grand Canyon.

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Incline Friends Karma Hour Photos

January 17th, 2013

Bristol Brewing held the Incline Friends Karma Hour fund raiser Tuesday evening. They donated $1 of every pint to the Incline Friends. It was crowded while I was there. It was good seeing people I know and meeting some other Manitou Incline lovers.

Other ways to help the Incline Friends is to join them, donate using the donate link on their website or putting money into the tube at the bottom of the Incline.

Here are some photos from the Incline Friends Karma Hour.


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