Hiking in Colorado

Last post I told you all about my morning Ballooning.  After brunch we headed back to Keenan’s to pick up Rowan (Ro) his dog.  Then we packed our backpacks and headed up to the mountains to do some hiking.

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We started at Brainard Lake…found a parking spot (which we weren’t sure we’d get because it was so late in the day..and being a holiday weekend everyone was OUT and ENJOYING the weather!)…we put on sunscreen and started our walk.

As you can see in the photo it was at an elevation of 10,300 feet.  Our plan was to hike on the trail to Lake Isabelle walking past Long Lake on the way.
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“Keep close to nature’s heart…
and break clear away, once in awhile,
and climb a mountain
or spend a week in the woods.
wash your spirit clean. ” ~John Muir

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…it started off as a bright sunny day and there was a nice cool breeze, so it wasn’t too hot!

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The first sign that the seasons are changing… leaves that are starting to turn! (But Summer is not OFFICIALLY over until after September 21st—that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) However, fall and the changing leaves is one of my most favourite times of the year.
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…there were lots of people on the path hiking! Seemed like all ages, everyone happy to be out and enjoying the day.  We were stopped by the park rangers (at the sign below) and asked if we had rain gear…the weather often turns fast in the mountains! The skies were starting to get darker.  We did and decided to keep on moving… hiking_0010

There’s always something magical about walking on a path in the woods. This hike it seemed more magical–as we could hear thunder bombing in the distance. I honestly think that is one of my fav memories of this hike…walking in the trees and just hearing the power of the rumbling thunder!  (But there was no lightening…and we were in the trees…so I was assured it was safe enough…and we’d be protected if lightening did strike.) And this info all came from a guy who did get struck by lightening on the top of a mountain…Keenan’s had some crazy adventures! But he knows his stuff… hiking_0011

I could have sat beside this river for hours…. it was so peaceful.  I need to do this more often go explore in nature–it feeds my soul! Don’t get me wrong–I do love living in a city, but I need to get some more regular visits back to nature to recharge my batteries. I think this is one of my favourite photos from my hike… hiking_0012

I’m a slow hiker…and I’m totally ok with that.  Luckily my hiking partner for the day was ok with that too.  I think part of the reason I was going even slower than normal…was the altitude. hiking_0013

I really didn’t even think about altitude and how it could affect me…but by this point in my hike I was feeling pretty awful.  My dull headache had reached the point of crazy-horrible…even though I was drinking lots of water… it didn’t help. I’m pretty sure it was a mild case of altitude sickness—and when I googles symptoms later that day.

(Yahoo for Doctor Google… 3 of the main symptoms were: headache, loss of appetite, and trouble sleeping. I had all 3…and realized that might explain my crappy sleep the night before!)

hiking_0014 …it was so beautiful, and I didn’t want to stop…but when I saw this HUGE log (in the photo below) beside the trail… I had to sit down, and I knew I was done…and I still had to hike back to the car! Somehow, Keenan seemed to know…that too so we decided to head back.
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So we didn’t end up at Lake Isabelle…but sometimes it’s not about the final destination but the journey to get there. It was still pretty awesome to be hiking in the mountains in Colorado.

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I’m not really a dog person–I mean I love other people’s dogs…but I can never really see myself getting one of my own. (Which is ok…I do enjoy walking my brother’s dog Gus….he’s the best!) But over this hike this little guy earned a special spot in my heart… Ro was such an awesome hiking buddy!  He LOVED to be out there on the trail…but didn’t really love the huskies we saw on the trail….even though they were way bigger than him! It was fun watching him always on the move…hunting and looking for things to chase! (even though he was on a leash the whole time!)
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…My photos really don’t do it justice! Every moment of the walk I was in awe….it’s so beautiful, and I was so glad to experience it. hiking_0018

…with the thunder there was a bit of rain, but it mainly was a light drizzle and then the sun came back out.  I joked it’s because I was there, and the sun was mandatory for my visit. hiking_0019

On our way back to the car…we passed some hikers that told us just down the way there was a moose in the field.  I was pretty excited, but didn’t want to get TOO excited, because you never know with wildlife…whats’ there one minute has sometimes moved on by the time you get there 5-10 mins later! hiking_0020

However, I wasn’t disappointed!!! We got to see a momma moose and her calf.  Keenan stayed with Ro on the path so I could get a wee bit closer for photos.  Once I was done that, I unclipped Ro’s lead and kept him at the road so Keenan could go closer to take some video clips! hiking_0021

Hiking magic…wildlife? WOW… you can never expect to see things like this…but when it happens you feel so blessed to have been there to see that moment. hiking_0022

We hiked down to Brainard Lake a different way than we came…and ended up on the other side of it.  At this point, I was so dead…even with a smiling selfie…I was feeling done in.  So I chilled by the lake…watched a dad with some kids rearrange everyone so that they were in the spots they wanted so they could go back out to fish.  Keenan and Ro headed back to the car and came back to pick me up.  Thanks again for doing that Keenan! hiking_0024

Then we were on our way back to Louisville.  Down the crazy winding road…we past through Ward, Colorado.  It’s a crazy little town… with heaps of random things around old houses….Keenan told me that their post office was just removed—so they have to go somewhere else to get their mail now. hiking_0025

Of course after we are finished our hike and heading down the mountain the sun comes out…and nice gorgeous blue skies! But it was time to head home… have a shower and a bit of down time.  Before we headed back up into the mountains for dinner! hiking_0027

As we were driving up to Gold Hill… it was getting dark, and starting to rain…and we weren’t 100% sure of the road, we had a map and rough idea where we were going but no cell signal.  But we continued on this dirt road up the mountain.  We went around this HUGE curve…and I was like WOW, look at that… the lights of Boulder on the horizon.  (side note: I was pretty impressed with my new iPhone 6S’s camera!) gold-hill-inn_0026We had a reservation at 8pm for dinner at the Gold Hill Inn. “The Gold Hill Inn is remote from the city lights and city noise of the Twenty-first Century. Things haven’t changed much since Frank and Barbara Finn opened the Gold Hill Inn in 1962. Sons Chris and Brian Finn are now managing operations by continuing to serve their six course meals, with the menu reflecting the seasonal offerings of the local markets.” (Source)

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…the history of places is always an interest to me.  So it was pretty awesome to have dinner in a place…where if the walls could talk, I’m sure there’d be heaps of stories to tell!

 In January 1859 a group of prospectors panned & dug their way up Four Mile Creek looking for traces of gold.  As they approached what is now the town site of Gold Hill, they discovered the first real proof that their search was profitable. The town site began to grow, upon the formation of Mountain District #1 Nebraska Territory. First, the miners built a settlement of log houses and shacks, followed by the service buildings, school, stores, and boarding houses.

In 1872 the Wentworth Hotel, a three-story luxury log building, was constructed with the idea of attracting tourists to the town. The Wentworth Hotel hosted many early personalities such as Clarence Darrow and Eugene Field who wrote several poems about Gold Hill including, ” Casey’s Table D’ Hote “.
In 1920, the hotel became the Bluebird Lodge, and was run as a private vacation spot for women from the Chicago area who were teachers, nurses etc…. Mrs. Sherwood was the original creator and was a protégé of Jane Addams of Hull House and also a humanitarian. The vacation spot became so popular, that in 1924 a dining hall, also log, was needed, and built next to the Bluebird Lodge. By the late fifties the “single” vacation was no longer desirable or necessary since the “rights” of women had improved. Many of the women had acquired their own cabins in Gold Hill.
In 1962 the hotel and dining hall were bought by Barbara and Frank Finn from the Holiday House Association. The dining hall became the Gold Hill Inn and the adventure began. (Source)

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The other pretty awesome thing about this place…I had joked to Keenan before coming that I wasn’t climbing up any mountains, unless there was a tea house at the top! So what does he do? Finds a restaurant at the top of a mountain to take me too for a fabulous 6 course meal!!!
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There was a salmon appetizer, then a extremely yummy lentil soup, then salad (didn’t remember to take a photo of that!)… for my entree I had the smoked stuffed trout—OMG so yummy!

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Then I had this frozen chocolate mint cup for dessert…and it was so darn good….and tea then cheese and fruit to share.  The food was amazing, company even better and the conversation the best part of the night! gold-hill-inn_0005

…we made it down the mountain winding down the dark, gravel road…which seemed way faster than the way up!

Believe it or not…this was just Day 1 of my 3 day weekend adventure!  There’s way more stories to tell… but that will have to be in another post.

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