Friday, September 21, 2018

Trail Review: Ypsilon Lake & Chipmunk Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Ypsilon Lake hike (with Chipmunk Lake on the way) was the longest hike I did in CO this past July.

Earlier this Summer in July, I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Colorado with extended family that put us in Estes Park, CO, right down the road about a mile or so from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  This is the 4th of 5 trail reviews from that week!  Enjoy!

Climing begins immediately!
Flood damage from 1983.

Once I had trail run/hiked up Deer Mountain on the first full day of our trip, I started looking for other hikes, including something that would push me even harder.  One of those that I kept coming back to was the Lawn Lake Trail vicinity.  I finally decided upon  Ypsilon Lake Trail which breaks off from the Lawn Lake trail about 1.5 miles into the route.

I got to the trail head, which is just before the Alluvial Fan Trail, and headed out about 5:45am MST.  The trail immediately starts going up and then after the first few steps that are made into the ground via logs, begins to switchback as the elevation gain continues ever upward until leveling out above the Alluvial Fan area.

It might not look like much, but these waters continue downward to the Alluvial Fan that so many enjoy!!!

This sign is around 1.3-1.5 miles into the Lawn Lake Trail.

There are great views of the waters that pour down as Horseshoe Falls to the Alluvial Fan once you start to level off for a bit from the initial bit of elevation gain, probably around 500ft or so.  The trail then follows what the Roaring River for a bit before ducking back into the woods.  Eventually you will come to the sign above and take the left side of the fork to Ypsilon Lake.  Not too long after that, you will break back out of the woods and cross the river on a plank.  While doing so, there are some great views to catch like these, whether you are heading up to Ypsilon Lake or coming back:

This is looking down at the plank bridge as I come back from the hike to Ypsilon Lake.
The plank bridge, trust me, it will hold!!!

After you cross the plank bridge on the way to Ypsilon Lake, you immediately start climbing up a set of steps hewn into the side of the mountain for a minute or so.  After that, the trail continues upward a bit more gently until you turn around a bend and head more or less into the mountain, and what felt like to me, climbing ever upward on what felt like a spine.  It's not, but if you look at an elevation map or chart of this stretch, it's just a continual climb upwards from 9500ft to around 10,750+/-.  

I remember this stretch challenging me in several ways.  First, I thought I'd be warm enough in just a long sleeve running top and found that even though I was constantly moving, it was early enough at these elevations that I was cold.  Eventually, as I got further upward, the sun started breaking through a few open stretches and I warmed up.  But, note, it was mid-July, so be wary and dress or bring appropriate clothing.  Second, I was pushing hard to keep up my pace and there was a lot of stepping around and on rock, so my legs were getting tired, especially in the groin area between my pubic bone and right leg.

This stretch from the river to Chipmunk Lake not only gains a lot of elevation, but is primarily in shaded woods so there's not a lot of views of the mountains around.  Though it's high, it's obviously not above tree line on this mountain.  Therefore, I didn't take a lot of pictures.

Finally, I made it Chipmunk Lake, which according to some people who have reviewed these lakes elsewhere on the net, is the prettier lake.  It's definitely a cute little lake, but not sure if I'd agree it's the better of the two.  A few pics below:

Chipmunk Lake with part of the "Y" that marks the area above Ypsilon Lake.

Chipmunk Lake

Yours truly @ Chipmunk Lake

If you've made it to Chipmunk Lake, Ypsilon is not too far away, probably less than .5 mile.  There was one stretch where I was coming down into a section where I lost the trail for a minute, but I figured it out.  As you get closer, if for some reason you've brought your horse along, you'll have to tie it up and leave it for the final, steep downhill section to Ypsilon Lake.

Oh, okay!  But where is the hitchrack from this sign?

Oh, there it is, just behind me to the right, somehow I missed it focusing on the signage!!!

I had no horse with me today.  Too bad I could have brought "A Horse with No Name," which is often on my playlist.

The final section after the horserack down to Ypsilon Lake is actually quite steep and a bit rocky.  I was glad I had my trekking poles with me, which I had already been using on some of the elevation gain.  Finally I made it to Ypsilon Lake with just enough time to spend a few minutes and snag a few photos.  Supposedly there is a little trail around the lake and including some falls, but that way seemed a bit tricky and overgrown at the moment, so I headed the other way to get a few shots before needing to head back out the trail.  At this point the sun was up bright in the East, in fact, so bright, it made it hard to get pics of lake as this is the direction you are looking when you finally arrive at it.  But, here are a few:

After a hard push gaining well over 2000ft in less than 4.5 miles, I made it!

Selfie to prove I actually made it!!!

Part of Ypsilon Lake at around 10,600ft.

I had to place the tree just right because the Sun was so bright!

You can just see the Eastern edge of the lake off to the right.  Another nice view.

A view of more of the mountain from Ypsilon Lake.

One of my favorite pics of Ypsilon Lake, the trees helped frame the shot and block the sunlight!

Similar to the one above, another nicely framed and favorite pic of Ypsilon Lake.

In addition to wanting to make it to Ypsilon and Chipmunk Lakes this day, I also chose this trailrun/hike to cross a mileage marker I wanted to cross while we were in Colorado.  I have been tracking my running mileage since February 12, 2009 on what is now an old iPod Touch.  Sure, I ran before this, but this is an ongoing blog of all the miles I have recorded running, walking, hiking, snowshoeing since that date and I was very close to 8,000 miles.  Before we left for Colorado, I put myself in a place where if I could do a good solid week, I'd hit my goal.  That happened in the middle of the woods along the Ypsilon Trail on the way back.  I stopped to note my current mileage for the run I was on, and to take a break and have a bit to eat.  Woohoo!!!  I might've taken a few more selfies than normal...:)

5.05 miles makes 8,000.00!!!

Having some gel chews at 8,000.00 miles!!!

I tried to run as much as possible on the way back, but the Ypsilon Trail is just rocky enough as you descend to make that pretty tricky for many stretches.  When it would clear, I'd take off, then stop and hike again until the next clear stretch.  Other than 1 person early on on the way out to the lake, I passed no one until I did my return trip, then I started passing people every so often.  

A shot of the trail as it nears the steps before the plank bridge over the Roaring River on the return.

Another view of the flood damage and the water as the sun continues to shine brightly!

Descending along the last stretch and looking forward to being done!!!

In the end, what was detailed online as a 9 mile hike that would take around 5-6 hours, ended up being about 8.77 miles with around 4700 ft of elevation change, (2392 up, 2286 down), and I did it in under 3 hours running/hiking time.  This doesn't include time to stop and take pictures, eat, rest for a minute or so here and there.  That might have made the hike closer to 3.25-3.5 hours total.

It was a tough hike and I felt it coming down, especially in my right groin area which gave me problems on the way up.  But, I was ecstatic as crossing 8,000 miles and adding 2 more lakes to my list of beautiful bodies of water that I got to see while in RMNP.  If you go, make sure you have enough time, energy, hydration, clothing, and a camera.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Product Review: The Ginger People Ginger Juice

organic ginger juice - ginger people
The Ginger People 5 oz ginger juice bottle.  Photo courtesy of

As many of you may know, I am currently home healing from an inguinal hernia to the right side of my torso.  Shortly after I became aware that I had a hernia, The Ginger People were kind enough to send me two 5 oz bottles of ginger juice as ginger is widely known for its anti-inflammatory health benefits.

Ginger juice can of course be used in place of fresh ginger for many recipes, including a couple of which the company includes on the bottle for you like Grilled Ginger Salmon and a Pineapple Ginger Smoothie!  Both sound delicious.  My purpose however was to simply use the ginger juice mixed with water in order to give my body the anti-inflammatory help it needed while I worked through the medical hoops of figuring what needed to be done so I could get better.  

The Ginger People, as always, use premium ginger, and there's no doubt of that here.  This is the real thing.  It's strong, it's spicy, and it's delicious.  But what I really love with this juice is the smell...long after I have finished drinking a bottle of ginger juice/water during the day at work, I can still smell the ginger in my bottle giving me a kind of euphoric earthy relaxation vibe that comes with the smell of real ginger.  It's awesome.  The taste is awesome too!  You can totally control how strong it is by how much you put into you water or any recipe for that matter.  I usually just put a tablespoon or so into a water bottle, shake it up and go.   But, for today's review, I mixed it into a pint glass of water so you could see what it looks like as well.

The glass is full of ice water.  Here's the ginger juice right above the caption.

Now, here's the ginger juice mixed into the water.  Just gives it a kind of hazy look, but with such great taste & aroma!!!
The Ginger People Ginger Juice comes in 5 oz and 32 oz bottles and can be found at their website along with so many other great products,  Check out my reviews of:

As a disclaimer, I am an Authentic Ginger Tastemaker for The Ginger People and proud to represent them.  I can't thank them enough that during this time of injury and healing, they have cared enough to have my best interests at heart and I appreciate them reaching out to me and providing some help with this awesome ginger juice.  Give it a try and ENJOY!!!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Product Review: Shady Rays Signature Series Black Infrared Polarized

The Shady Rays Signature Series Black Infrared Polarized work great during sunrise out in the open on a trail run.

Disclaimer: I received a pair of  
Shady Rays Signature Series Black Infrared Polarized sunglasses as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to find and write race reviews.

Action oriented, fashionable sunglasses continue to hit the market at much more reasonable costs than ever before it seems like the past couple of years.  Shady Rays is one such company offering great specs specs at a decent price point with a strong lifetime warranty.  Their glasses are shatter resistant polarized lenses in a variety of styles.  They are an independent company and provide 11 meals for Feeding America with every order purchased.  Sounds like something many of us could get behind here in the endurance sports community, but how are the actual glasses?

As with most companies in this market, the Shady Rays come with a microfiber cleansing pouch.

I chose, without looking to be honest, just simply going by the description, to demo the Signature Series Black Infrared Polarized glasses.  One of the ironic things about this pair of glasses to me is, that while the lenses look fire orange/red, looking through them, the lenses actually tone down the environment around you with more of a blue tint.  This of course reduces the glare and makes it easier to see in the environment around you, being especially useful for surfaces such as snow and water.

I liked the black matte frame, choosing to keep it simple always works well I think, and though it's taken me a while to get use to the lens color from the outside, I think these will be awesome glasses come this winter when I hope to train and compete in a local snowshoe series.  

My Shady Rays in action earlier today in the humidity and mosquito craziness of a local trail run.

Glasses at the Shady Rays website range from $35-75 with the pair I demoed running $45 or you could upgrade to the extreme for another $15 and top out at $60 for a really nice pair of specs.  I had a couple of other friends try them out and here's what they thought below:


Well, I thought they looked pretty hip, especially for a night out with the ladies at the local mountain lake.  I think they draw attention away from my thin legs and towards my naturally beautiful face.

Moose, just hanging around and trying on my specs.

Super Giant Lobster, Lobbie, or Super G:

The fire red/orange lenses really blend in well with my sleek red shell, making them almost an extension of my body.  The polarized lenses are great for being able to see in the murkiest parts of the ocean floor.  But I really wish they had included a strap so I could keep them on my head more easily as I trolled the sea floor looking for the ever elusive hideout of Atlantis.

Yo!  Don't eat me!

In conclusion, the glasses work well, are comfortable, come at a great price, have a lifetime warranty, and help proved food for those in need.  Give them a try and enjoy!!!

Added the Shady Rays sticker to my race shelf!

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