I just returned from another trip to Colorado, perhaps my second favorite state. I spent half the time with hiking buddies in the Rocky Mountains and half with a friend in Fort Collins.
7/23/15 – Into the Rockies
Robin and I got a ride to the airport (thanks Erin). We flew to Denver where we met Anne arriving on a different airline. We rented a car and drove to Fraser, arriving at Lynne’s family condo five hours after we landed. In addition to a quick lunch, we were delayed by a slow car rental line, commute traffic, rubber necking, and road construction. Note for next time: take an earlier flight and/or arrive on a weekend.
We dropped our bags and took a two-mile walk to The Library, a restaurant in Winter Park (decent food, lousy beer, and a raising noise level). It felt good to stretch our legs and begin adjusting to the altitude (about 8500’).
7/24 – Hike on Vasquez Ridge
We took two cars, left one at Winter Park, and then drove up to the Berthoud Pass trailhead, at 11,300’. From there it was a steady climb with many switchbacks up to the Continental Divide Trail. We spent most of the day above the tree line traversing through the Vasquez Peak Wilderness and Arapaho National Forest. The views were spectacular, though as the day progressed it became more difficult for me to enjoy them, as I became nervous of the darkening sky. We felt a few raindrops, but, fortunately, thunderstorms did not materialize.
After overshooting Mary Jane peak, we backtracked, and then bushwhacked down into the Winter Park ski area, making our way down to Sunspot where we caught the Zephyr Express Chairlift down to our first car. The hike was longer than expected, 10-12 miles; it took six hours, including only a few short breaks. We felt pretty proud of ourselves covering that distance after coming from sea level. Too tired to cook, we picked up pizza on our way back to the condo. Lynne and I enjoyed a soak in the jacuzzi afterwards.
7/25/15 – Hike to Columbine Lake
After a ten-mile drive on a fairly well maintained dirt road, we reached Junco trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The weather was perfect. On our way up to Columbine Lake we passed beautiful meadows strewn with wildflowers and a lovely stream with a few cascades. We had lunch at gorgeous Columbine Lake, staring up at the cliff from where Lynne and a friend were rescued a few years ago. Still not back in shape after recent injuries, Anne and I took a break while Lynne and Robin hiked around the lake. Officially, today’s hike was only six miles, but it felt more like eight and our iPhones claimed it was even longer.
We had planned to drive into Rocky Mountain National Park, but the altitude was bothering Robin so instead we drove to Grandby and snacked on guacamole at a Mexican restaurant. My lime margaritas were the perfect complement to the chips and dip.
After a shower and short break, we had dinner at Crooked Creek Saloon in Fraser, then returned to the condo to watch The Heat, a movie that had all of us laughing out loud.
7/26 – On to Fort Collins
After a bit of commotion due to a water leak, we three guests headed back to Denver in our now filthy rented Kia. This time, the drive took only an hour and a half, half as long as on the way up. After returning the car, Robin and Anne took a shuttle to the airport. Nancy, my best friend from high school, picked me up shortly afterwards.
We chatted during the hour drive north to Fort Collins, catching up on the year since my last visit. Nancy’s arm is in a sling due to recent shoulder surgery and she’s recovering a whole lot faster than I did after mine. We stopped to say hi to her husband, Steve and younger son, Zack, then went to one of my favorite outdoor stores, Jax, where I found what I hope is the perfect backpack for day hikes.
Later, Steve, Nancy, and I took a bus up into the mountains to Mishawaka, an outdoor concert venue along a running river, where we saw Asleep at the Wheel, a Texas swing band whose music I last listened to in college. It was a fun evening.
7/27 – Nancy’s 60th Birthday
To celebrate her birthday, Nancy and I had a deluxe moisturizing pedicure. It felt great, especially given how dry it is here compared to the Bay Area. We also did a bit of shopping, at another great outdoor store, Sierra Trading Post, and Nuance, a local chocolate company. I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on my blog and reviewing Photoshop with Zack. For dinner, the four of us went out to a seafood restaurant, also named Jax. The calamari appetizer was particularly yummy. Afterwards we enjoyed watching The Hundred Foot Journey, a pleasant movie with great cinematography about an Indian family that relocates to France and opens a restaurant.
7/28 – Rocky Mountain National Park
Though we entered the park before 9:00, the parking lot at the Bear Lake trailhead was already full and there was a long line waiting for shuttle buses. Instead Nancy and I took a drive through the park, up one-way Old Fall River Road (open only in the summer) and down Trail Ridge Road. On the east side, we took a short stroll around Lily Lake with lovely wildflowers. Spotting a moose and her youngster made our day.
Nancy’s older son, Alex, and his girlfriend, Rachel, joined us for dinner at Rodizzo, a Brazilian restaurant that specializes in meat, meat, meat. (Fortunately they also have a hearty salad bar). It was a double celebration as Rachel’s birthday is only a couple days before Nancy’s. We were all too stuffed to eat much of the ice cream cake that Zack picked up earlier in the day.
7/29 – Home Again
I took a short walk with Nancy, Zack, and one of their dogs, Bella, before giving Nancy a farewell hug. Zack drove me to the airport while Nancy headed up to Cheyenne for an afternoon of work. I arrived home in the late afternoon to uncommonly beautiful weather.