After spending Christmas Day with family and overindulging in an all-day marathon of Italian cooking, we were anxious to get out and stretch our legs. The forecast called for an afternoon snowstorm, so early this morning we ventured to Longs Peak Trailhead and set out on an easy hike to Eugenia Mine. This trail is located about nine miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7. The trail was only lightly populated with hikers. The thick snow allowed us to study animal tracks along the route. The trail to the abandoned mine is 1.4 miles and is only a slight elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. Upon reaching the mine we were met by two Gray Jays that we’re especially playful, first allowing us to take pictures at close range and finally landing on my outreached hand. This was a fun and easy hike.
We spent the morning of Christmas Eve on the Gem Lake Trail located outside of Estes Park. The hike to Gem Lake is an intermediate 1.7 miles from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead. The trail was well populated and the spirit was festive and light. Hikers encouraged each other in a variety of dialects and wished Merry Christmases to each other in passing. A light snow briefly dusted us upon our arrival to Gem Lake, which was frozen solid. Gaggles of hikers played on the ice and posed for photos. We took refuge on a rock, rested and hydrated by eating snow. The uphill segment took a total of 75 minutes while the downhill return took about 60.
Earlier this month I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts. There are both personal and global reasons for my decision, and I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say on the topic other than I don’t miss those services and you can no longer find me there. This space will continue to be my online home, as it has been since 2005. I hope you’ll come see me.
I’m continuing to work toward my instrument rating. I’m learning that there is much more to this rating than flying in challenging weather conditions. The rating is about developing discipline, precision and workload management. The little things matter: How you test and tune nav and comm radios, how you organize in-fight documents and how you determine the airworthiness of both your aircraft and navaids along a given route. The training puts a premium on minimizing mental and emotional bandwidth, both of which are precious commodities when flying through more demanding conditions. Eyes and other senses must also be disciplined and trained so as not to misinterpret flight dynamics and control changes. Even language becomes more precise: VORs don’t broadcast a signal, they emanate a signal. My instructor is disciplined and expects the same. Training consists of ground study, simulator work and flying. I find that talking about concepts, applying those concepts in a simulator and then in actual flight provides a productive framework for deeper learning.