After visiting the Shambhala Mountain Center, we set out towards Red Feather Lakes and our second adventure of the day. We took a right turn out of Red Feather and headed north. At first we traveled through more residential areas, but the road still deteriorated. I was frankly shocked that a county road could be in such bad shape. Soon we were dealing with deep ruts. My Subaru could have done it with care, but I was still glad to be using the Jeep. As the road got worse, I stopped to air down the tires. This was my first time lowering the air pressure- the idea is that it smooths out the ride and can give you more traction. And the ride definitely became smoother as we twisted and turned through these northern foothills. Surprisingly, we soon hit a road that was in better shape. It was still unpaved, so I kept the tires low. It wasn’t long before we arrived at our destination- the Cherokee Park Wildlife Area.

This was the spot listed in my 4×4 guidebook as a medium-difficulty trail. Our goal with the Jeep is not to become 4×4 aficionados. The main reason I like the Jeep is because we can travel to remote trailheads that the Subaru cannot make it to (Dorinna likes the Jeep because the roof comes off). There are lots of these in the Colorado mountains, and the extra few miles it can save (at both ends of a hike) can make the difference between possible and impossible, especially when you are hiking with a kid. The goal today was to judge how hard a medium-difficulty trail could be and to be able to use this experience to calibrate against other trail descriptions.

As it turns out, the trail wasn’t that hard. There were interesting sections of rocky road, but the Jeep made short work of all of them. The views of the Cherokee Park reservoir were really great, and we found a number of good camping spots for future trips. We did one spur giving great views of the reservoir, and then another. Both were fun, both were challenging- if only because I had never done this before.

In fact, the only downside to the whole experience was reinflating the tires. I had a cheap, small inflator that plugged into the Jeep’s AC outlet. It probably took a minimum of 10 minutes a tire, and we were glad when we finally finished and headed out for home.

The summer is over, but the memories remain. While the summer was going on, I didn’t have time to edit photos and write up the stories to go with them, but now I do. This regular series will look back at the trips and adventures of the summer.

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