S: Colorado Honeymoon 2011
FC: Reed & Dawn Our Colorado Honeymoon
1: July 12-20, 2011
2: OUR TRAVEL JOURNEY - Tuesday, July 12, 2011 Got up at 2:00 am, left Greenwood at 3:00 am. Drove to Greenville. Departed Greenville at 6:00 am. Flew from Greenville to Chicago to Albuquerque (re-routed) to Denver to Vail. Picked up the rental car and drove an hour & a half to Snowmass Village, Colorado!
5: For our big wedding trip, we waited until after summer school session 1 was over to go to Colorado! We arrived on Tuesday, spent seven days, and returned on Wednesday. We stayed in Laurelwood at 640 Carriage Way in Snowmass Village, Colorado. Every morning we watched the Tour de France during breakfast & then went hiking. Our lodge was a great place to relax each evening.
6: F u n | B u r g e r s | S p a
7: evening spa & fudge bar time!
8: WEDNESDAY RIM TRAIL 5 Hours Hiking right from our lodge door, we could access the Rim Trail. The trail climbs to the mountain top and then traverses the narrow rim above Snowmass Village. Immediately we were struck by the openness of the trail, which offered continuous spectacular and endless views. Lush, colorful wildflowers bordered the trail, not poison ivy or briars! The area is known for rapidly changing weather conditions and afternoon thunderstorms, but it remained clear and sunny. The sun rays were noticeably more intense, especially on the back of your neck. However, there was no humidity, and it was pleasant to be outside in the middle of a July day!
10: Two views of the golf course on our Rim Trail loop | Wildflower seeds so thick that they look like falling snow. | An example of how deep the snow accumulates! (below)
11: Maroon Bells
12: The coldest water ever: mere seconds immersed leave us laughing, writhing, and screaming in pain!
13: The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, separated by about a third of a mile. Both peaks are counted as fourteeners. Located 12 miles southwest of Aspen, the Bells are the most photographed peaks in all of North America. Unlike the other granite and limestone mountains, Maroon Bells are composed of metamorphic sedimentary mudstone. This mudstone is weak and fractures easily. It is responsible for the Bells' distinctive maroon color. Between 9:00 am-5:00 pm, Maroon Lake and the hiking trails can only be accessed by tour bus. The last bus departs Maroon Lake Day Use Area at 5:00 pm (precisely). Miss it and you will be stranded with a very long walk back!
15: As we first approached Maroon Lake, a biting wind howled from the snowy mountains across the water. We were a little apprehensive of the unknown and wondered if we were adequately dressed and prepared for the conditions, climate, and terrain. We began hiking a popular route from Maroon Lake along a rocky avalanche path to Crater Lake. Then we continued up the less traveled and strenuous fork toward Buckskin Pass. A combination of the very steep grade and high altitude made progress much slower and more arduous than at home, having to pause to catch our breath frequently. But Dawn was absolutely determined not to turn around until reaching snow! It was so tempting to see what waited around the next bend. We asked every person we met, "How far until snow?" Just a little bit farther. Not long. Just a half hour or so... | THURSDAY: MAROON BELLS - CRATER LAKE TRAIL - BUCKSKIN PASS
16: A 2,000 ft elevation gain from Crater Lake towards Buckskin Pass
17: An exhilarating mix of aspen groves, flower-speckled meadows, and forests of spruce and fir
18: We finally did it! And the experience was definitely worth the effort! We frolicked in July snow. To go any farther, snow boots would have been necessary. Plus snow made it difficult to know what terrain was beneath you. We realized that we were standing on a creek...and the snow was melting. How amazing it was to actually be "in" our woodwind quintet piece Roaring Fork "Maroon Creek" & "Buckskin Pass." The time was getting late, so we headed down in order to stop by Crater Lake on the way back. No matter how far we hiked, we had to return before the last bus of the day. | Buckskin Pass | Standing on the creek | Throwing snowballs
19: Crater Lake | Boarding the 5:00 bus | 10, 076 feet
20: INDEPENDENCE PAS is on the Continental Divide of the Americas...the name given to the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divides that separate the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those that drain into the Atlantic Ocean. | FRIDAY | Yikes! The pass in earlier days
21: elevation 12,095 ft, is the highest paved mountain pass in Colorado. The pass crosses the ridge of the Sawatch Range between Aspen and Leadville, and is within the White River National Forest. Being well above the tree line, the terrain type is alpine tundra. Highway 82 traversing the pass is narrow and steep with a 6.5% gradient, including tight switchbacks on each approach. Sections of the pass have a speed limit of 25 mph, with advisory limits on some switchbacks as low as 10 mph. The pass is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, June to September! | Independence Pass,
22: Dawn in front of a tundra ice pool at the summit of the pass
24: The little village of Twin Lakes is at the end of Independence Pass. It sits in the shadow of Colorado's highest peak, Mt. Elbert, and overlooks Twin Lakes. In the winter the pass is closed, and "they have the place all to themselves." | There are only about 36 full time residents in the entire valley. | Twin Lakes | We finished our driving loop around the Pass & Scenic Byway through Leadville, Eagle, and Glenwood Springs. | Welcome to...
26: The world's highest frisbee golf course! | SATURDAY: Aspen Mountain | Silver Queen Gondola | Aspen Festival Brass Quintet Concert | Watching Aspen get smaller and smaller | A snowy hole | A quick way to get hand blisters! | I worked up to 5 hoops before they crushed me. | Hula fun! | Riding 2.5 miles up. | To the 11,212 ft summit
27: SUNDAY: Snowmass Mountain | Hiking the Sierra Trail Loop 1.9 mi. | We 'played' this course from the summit back down! | Maroon Bells can be seen again behind us. | Elk Camp Chairlift | 20 throws later... | The target is at the treeline?!! | Whee! | The Bells seen from Snowmass. | The newlywed
28: Hiking Distance: 5.6 miles roundtrip - difficult & steep Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft. over 2.8 miles Oxygen Level: 66% Cathedral Lake is located in the Maroon Bells - Snowmass Wilderness just South of Aspen. To get to the trailhead, travel 12 miles on Castle Creek Road passing the old town site of Ashcroft. Turn right, and drive down a rutted, rocky dirt road one mile to the parking lot. A high clearance vehicle and spare tire is recommended for the last part of the drive (oops). The trail begins winding an incline through aspen groves before gaining the Pine Creek drainage. It alternates between forest and open hiking as it carves along the hillside 100 or more feet above Pine Creek. The trail then crosses an expansive boulder field to reach a series of eight very steep, daunting switchbacks on the mountainside. At the summit is emerald-green, translucent Cathedral Lake, filled with native trout and surrounded by ice and jagged peaks. Ominous clouds can quickly build over the mountains, but we were blessed with another perfect hike! The rain held off until we arrived at Ashcroft. | MONDAY: CATHEDRAL LAKE TRAIL AND ASHCROFT GHOST TOWN
31: Malamute Peak (el. 13,348) & a frozen waterfall | Cathedral Peak close up (el. 13,943) | View across Cathedral Lake | Cathedral Lake with Cathedral Peak behind | Views from the summit of the trail at Cathedral Lake
32: Ashcroft Ghost Town
33: TUESDAY: Snowmass Village Run & Aspen Music Festival We wanted a taste of altitude running for the grand finale. Reed dropped Dawn off at the base entrance to Snowmass Village. Reed ran along the golf course to the chapel, and Dawn ran the Brush Creek Trail paralleling Brush Creek Road all the way back to the lodge. It was a steady climb about an hour. It was very tough! From a combination of the altitude, the elevation gain, and tired legs from a week of Rocky Mountain hiking! Later we took the bus into downtown Aspen for a wonderful orchestra concert in the Music Tent and ate out for dinner.