Monday, July 12, 2010

Handies Peak & Crested Butte

Erin and I started last week spending time with her family including her sister, Amy, and brother-in-law, Kevin.  After a very fun 4th of July we went with them and Erin's parents on Monday out for lunch and a nice walk around City Park.  It was good to just stroll around and chat before they had to go back home to Baltimore.  That night Erin and I went to my aunt and uncle's place for a delicious dinner and to stay the night as we were heading up to the mountains the next day.

For the rest of the week Erin and I enjoyed as much as we could of the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  We started out on Tuesday driving up to Lake City.  This is a small town towards the western side of Colorado which meant it was a long, but beautiful, drive.  We were staying at a motel with my uncle Reynold so that we could get an early start on hiking the next day.  After strolling around town and having dinner we got to bed early in preparation for the next day.

Getting up early Wednesday morning Reynold drove Erin and I up to the American Basin trailhead where we would start our ascent up one of Colorado's 14'ers, Handies Peak (14,048' elevation).  It was a rough start getting up at 5:30am, travelling over the 4x4 road, and starting the hike in the cold.  We charged up the hill with Erin in the lead, but soon slowed to a more moderate pace as the altitude caught up with us.  As we climbed the mountain the sun started to warm us up and the amazing views compelled us to continue onward.  Before too long we reached the summit and enjoyed the panoramic view with some fellow hikers.  We started back down as we saw the afternoon storm clouds approaching and were back in the truck headed for town before the rain started to fall.

While we all stayed Wednesday night in Lake City, Reynold stayed on Thursday to hike up two more 14'ers while Erin and I returned to Denver so we could take care of our lengthy to-do list and prepare for our next trip into the mountains.  A rapid turn around found us heading up to Crested Butte on Friday with Erin's parents for the annual Wildflower Festival.  After a lengthy, but beautiful drive we found ourselves again in the mountains enjoying a delicious dinner looking out at Mt. Crested Butte.

Throughout the weekend we enjoyed numerous breath-taking hikes around lakes, past waterfalls, and even down the slopes of Mt. Crested Butte.  Throughout all of them there were numerous wildflowers decorating the landscape.  As the festival started on Monday we even enjoyed a jeep tour through which the driver stopped several times to describe the area and it's native wildflowers.  Each afternoon, after doing a hike in the morning, we would relax back at our lodge with some wine before heading out to dinner.  Our meals were generally good (though often expensive) and I would definitely recommend Django's in Mt. Crested Butte for anyone heading up there.

Today, after our enlightening jeep tour, we made our way back home.  It's been a wonderful week of stunning vistas, cooler temperatures, and thrilling hikes with great company.  As I look at Erin's and my schedules I realize that we likely won't get much more time up in the mountains before we leave.  While that does sadden me a little, I realize that this past week has given us plenty of memories (and pictures) to last us until we come back for a visit next summer.  Until then I'm sure we'll find some other mountains to climb and explore.

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