Saturday, August 20, 2011

Colorado adventures - Summer 2011

So, we've now been back two weeks, and I finally feel organized enough to review and reflect upon our annual pilgrimage to Colorado. We often find ourselves following the same routine when we visit Boulder, and although we hit up some of our favorite spots (Snarfs for sandwiches and Spruce Confections for coffee), we also tried to spend less time and money eating out on this visit, so we did not go to all of our favorite places. It also seemed to me that we didn't hike as much as we often do when we are in Colorado, but we did manage one epic climb at the end of our stay!
The focus of the trip was to visit family and friends, and we did spend lots AND LOTS of time with family and friends and varied up our visit a bit by spending two nights in Allens Park, CO, a tiny stop on the way up to the tourist hell that is Estes Park (we drove through Estes Park and then left immediately!). We took Gus and Milo and stayed in a fairly rustic cabin!

I also spent some time hanging around on the climbing wall! Michael's nephews were like spider monkeys as they scampered up multiple routes. I was a little less youthful, but I had a great time climbing! It was the first time in a few years that I'd climbed, so I didn't mind too much that my muscles tired easily. One thing that I love about climbing - you don't have to be an expert to enjoy the activity.

Another trip highlight - the "booze bus tour" that a group of us took. Here is our group, hanging out in the back of the bus!

This was after our Avery Brewery 'tour' - not that it was much of a tour of the brewery, but we did drink some mighty fine beers. I hadn't finished one of my tastings, so they let me take it on the bus where I finished it en route to our next brewery. I was obviously having fun and had started to feel the effects of the beer!

Michael and I are enjoying some liquid refreshment at the last brewery, Upslope.

And then there was the Boulder Stroke and Stride. Not one of my better moments, at least in terms of the swim, but the scenery was pretty beautiful. Here we are before the race - it's pretty casual.

I had a fairly strong start - I'm wearing the gray swim cap. I tried to ignore all of the people who were sporting Ironman gear (like the guy with the purple 70.3 cap right beside me), but that should have been a clue that it was going to be a competitive field.

Exiting the water after a slooooooow swim!

The transition! I would probably have a better time if I invested in a 'race belt', but I like being old school with the pins that hold up the bib.

The sky was pretty phenomenal - maybe that helped motivate me through the run?

Ah, almost at the finish line - with a nice downhill slope to push us along. That DEFINITELY helped!

Anyway, after lots of good times in Boulder, we went up to Breckenridge which is a mere 5,000 feet or so higher than Boulder! I thought that I had acclimated to the altitude, but the change in altitude pretty much destroyed that silly belief. The weather was fantastic in the mountains - chilly at night, and up to 70 or 75 max during the day. Perfect! We spent a few days in Breckenridge with my side of the family - aunt and uncle, cousins, and my parents.
On the penultimate day of our trip, we 'bagged' a 14-er thanks to my parents' request and/or insistence. A few years ago, they climbed up Mt. Democrat which stands at 14,148. Mt. Lincoln, another 14-er (or a mountain that is 14,000 feet or higher) is along the same trail, and they tried to summit BOTH in one day, which would have been an admirable feat. Unfortunately, the high winds served as a major deterrent, so they turned back. This year, however, they were determined to summit Mt. Lincoln, and Michael and I accompanied them, sometimes cheerfully, sometimes a bit more begrudgingly!
It was a beautiful day for a long hike, and we enjoyed some spectacular scenery along the way. Here we are approaching the trailhead:

This was early enough in the hike that I'm actually smiling, although I do think that the smile is a bit forced. The altitude was pretty tough - starting at around 12,00 and hiking a mere 2,000 feet UP.

At this point, we were on the ridge, approaching Mt. Lincoln, and it was COLD and WINDY! The views definitely helped, but I also focused on moving along so that I didn't get too cold!

But, we all eventually made it to the summit at 14,286! This is my third 14-er, and not that I'm a total peakbagger, but there is something rather thrilling about summiting a mountain. I believe that we felt more relief than any kind of triumph once re reached the summit. The descent was almost more difficult than the ascent (we were tired, it was rockier than I remembered and that was hard on the feet and joints!), but a hot bowl of soup and a cold beer followed by a nap helped me recover rather quickly!

Finally, on Friday, our very last day in Colorado, Michael and I managed to motivate ourselves to get on our bikes. This was the first trip that we had taken our bikes, and we both really enjoyed all of the miles that we covered in the saddle. We rode from Frisco to Vail Pass, a 22-mile round trip experience with a 1,600 foot climb. THAT was tough, but it was a great bike path and we felt pretty happy once we arrived at the pass:

The best thing about this bike ride? Once we started back from the pass, it was all downhill, obviously, so we cruised down and fully enjoyed the ride!
It seems that we just returned from Colorado yesterday, and in other ways, I feel that we've been settled into our typical routine at home for a while now. Either way, these photos do remind me of the good times and the mini-adventures that we had on this particular Colorado trip!

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