It was too few days of heavenly weather, as we were greeted by an “F-you, welcome back to Austin”, 108 degree airport parking lot. Going to the Rockies is about more than the weather though. There is just something about being in a place that makes the fast pace of life vanish, and makes you feel so good. We left Thursday morning at 6am, and by 9am, we were looking at a mama and baby Elk foraging for some breakfast. Pretty awesome.
We have decided this is our summer destination. A quick 2 hour direct flight cannot be beat, and then about 45 minutes in the car. We got a cabin that was secluded, on the river, and had a wonderful patio (nothing like morning coffee on the patio in 60 degrees!), but terrible beds….including the Owl’s pack and play, so he slept like poo and I would not call this a restful vacation. When we came here 2 years ago, we literally never stopped hiking, and as we reviewed park maps, we realized we had already done a lot. We knew this year with Jasper would be different. Last time we summited a 12000 ft peak, this time we knew the shorter easier hikes/ walks would be our main agenda. We also booked time with each other to watch the Owl, so I could run and Mike could play disc golf.
Shortly after we arrived at our cabin, I set out on a run on a trail behind it that eventually entered the national park. The guy in the cabin’s office said “it’s steep in the beginning, but don’t let that discourage you.” Steep is an understatement. It was straight up. I didn’t want to start my run at a walk, and my ego got the better of me and I tried to haul my ass up as fast as I could. Then it went straight down, and I repeated the process. The trail forked and I thought that with no water and a little boy who needs his mama alive, it would be a bad idea to start taking lots of twists and turns where I didn’t know where I was. There was a little road a ways off, and I hopped on it, and realized it just brought be back into town, but I knew where I was at least. I also realized I had destroyed my legs. Why had I run that hill as hard as I could? I knew pain was inevitable the next day. I also realized I was late getting back to Mike and I had to run as hard as I could. Sure enough, I spent the rest of the trip with completely busted quads.
After a great evening of making spaghetti in our cabin with yummy local IPA, I went out for a painful run. I turned a corner and on a ledge about 10 ft away was a beautiful, mature bull elk. I just stopped and stared. My poor writing skills don’t allow me to put words to what it is like to see an animal like this in the early morning stillness. I continued onto the local hike and bike and there was another mature bull elk, with his harem of female elks around him. I could have easily petted them, but opted not to. What an awesome run!
We spent the next couple days at the park walking when we could in between Jasper’s naps and eating, and when we couldn’t walk we drove. We went up Trail Ridge Road to 12000 ft, for more elk watching, and amazing vistas. We picnicked by a lake. We did short walks/ hikes. We left the park for a trip to the Bald Pate Inn, for yummy pie on their deck. It is an almost 100 year old log cabin Inn that is so much fun. Jasper loved watching the humming birds.
We also spent a day in Boulder. Jasper and I shopped while Mike played disc golf. We then had my favorite micro brew at Mountain Sun brewery. We checked out the flatirons. That night we ate at the Boulder Tea Room which had a middle eastern feel, and incredible food that I had to eat in about 2 minutes thanks to a very sleepy Owl.
We did a lot, but we had a lot of down time due to Jasper. It was really about spending time together and just “being” somewhere beautiful. We cannot wait until next summer’s trip.