Getting High with Friends ~ Longmont, CO

Did I get your attention?  Well, we are in Colorado, where an altered state of mind is perfectly legal these days.  However, the high I am referring to is the altitude, where a bit of acclimatizing is in order for us before getting too aggressive on the trails.

We have been looking forward to our Colorado trip for some months, where visiting friends, attending a niece’s wedding and hiking in the beautiful Rockies was on the agenda.  As can be expected at this time of year, Mother Nature has been fickle, unsure if she wanted to draw us into autumn or drag us back to the dog days of summer.  Within a few short days she chose to do both.

Our intended plans to hike these magnificent mountains with friends Stan and Marilyn didn’t materialize as storms moved through the Boulder area the first few days of our visit.  Not to be deterred, we settled for a farmers’ market visit, shopping, and some wonderful meals filled with lots of laughter and reminiscing.   Hopefully we will be able to squeeze in their recommended hike before we have to move on.

Delicious-looking vegetables at the Boulder Farmers' Market
Delicious-looking vegetables at the Boulder Farmers’ Market

Knowing we were in the area, Ingrid and Al of Live Laugh RV decided to join us at St. Vrain State Park, a park we chose due to its proximity to Boulder and Rocky Mountain National Park.  Although we had only a couple of days in the park before we had to hop a plane back to Ohio to attend our father’s memorial service, we were able to catch up on each other’s travels over dinner at our place, with Ingrid providing some very tasty cookies for dessert.  A girl’s day of sightseeing and shopping rounded out our visit before we parted ways.  Sadly I did not pick up the camera during our time with either of these couples.   Sometimes reminiscing and a good meal takes precedence over photography.

The Chapel on the Rock at Camp St. Malo outside Allenspark, CO.
The Chapel on the Rock at Camp St. Malo outside Allenspark, CO.

I had little time to explore St. Vrain and when I did, the birds that I often saw flying overhead, white pelicans, osprey, and Canada geese, were absent from the many ponds on the property.  To see some lovely images of these fine-feathered fowl, check out Ingrid’s post here.

Sunrise over St Vrain SP, with the snow-dusted Rockies in the background
Sunrise over St Vrain SP, with the snow-dusted Rockies in the background

After our whirlwind Ohio trip, exercise was foremost in our minds, so it was time to pull out the Rocky Mountain hiking maps. I had read quite a bit about the beauty of Wild Basin, both in our books and from Ingrid so we decided upon a hike to Ouzel Lake. Beginning at an altitude of ~8500 feet, with a 1500 foot elevation gain, it was a great acclimatizing hike.

Aspen and Ponderosa pine lined the trail and the sound of water crashing over boulders could be heard most of the way.  What we hadn’t anticipated was the bridge just below Ouzel Falls being out, due to the flooding in 2013.  Try as we might, climbing above and behind the falls did not provide a way to reconnect with the trail.

The rangers who were working to rebuild the bridge were discouraging anyone from attending to forge St. Vrain Creek, due to the heavy rains the previous few days.  After checking out a few potential crossing points, we decided to choose safety over daring. So what started as a 10-mile hike ended at 6.5 miles, not bad for a first hike in the Rockies.

We had time for one more hike in Rocky Mountain National Park before moving on so we settled on Timberline Falls.  Beginning at Bear Lake Trailhead and looping back around to Glacier Gorge Trailhead, this 10-mile hike takes you past beautiful alpine lakes and waterfalls, with breathtaking views of the Colorado peaks.

It begins at 9,100 feet, with an elevation gain of 1,560 feet, two-thirds of that being in the last mile before you reach Timberline Falls.

From Timberline you can scale a 30-foot mist-soaked vertical wall to continue to Sky Pond but seeing hikers coming back down backwards off this wall, we did not feel the need to go that extra quarter-mile.

Following a brief storm, our final night at St. Vrain yielded a lovely sunset over the Colorado peaks.

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59 thoughts on “Getting High with Friends ~ Longmont, CO

  • Yes, you got my attention with that title and I thought about the other high but couldn’t fathom you writing about it.
    The Chapel is beautiful.
    I love listening to the sound of rapid running water. It is so calming.
    Anther beauty….Bear Lake. I am with you…no need to ever climb down backwards if possible.

    • I thought I might get the attention of some. You are right Marsha, you will never find me writing about this topic.

      I had forgotten just how beautiful the Rockies are. 🙂

  • Just gorgeous, LuAnn. What beautiful photos and inspiring words. If you get down to the Ouray area, we will be here for a while and would love to see you.

    • Unfortunately we will be here in the Denver area for a niece’s wedding at the end of the month, then have to head to AZ for some appointments. Where are you two wintering?

  • Thanks for sharing the CO Rockies with us. I miss them, though I love Yellowstone, of course. Today Jenny and I hiked Sepulcher. It was rainy off and on, then warmed up to the 70’s. We have had lovely weather since some cold snowy weather earlier.
    Going to head to Zion(Canyoneering class in Zion and a day of canyoneering) , Canyonlands to see friends and hike, and the Grand Canyon (hike rim to rim in a day) in October. Going to take a Natalie Goldberg class–Sit, Walk, Write in New Mexico with my friend Teresa in November.
    In early Oct, I put together an all women retreat, using the Yellowstone Overlook–some yoga, nature journaling: writing, drawing/painting, wine drinking, sharing. It is a departure for me, and a practice/try out of a possible course for next summer. 🙂 Enjoy your travels!! Hugs to both of you!!

    • Your future travels sound wonderful! Can I tag along? I have never heard of this Natalie Goldberg class. It sounds fascinating. I will be anxious to hear what you think. Enjoy your travels. 🙂

    • I’m not sure that altered state would be conducive to hiking! It is great to be back in the mountains…such beautiful country. My photography is a work in progress, just like me! 🙂

  • My kind of Rocky Mountain high 😉 Nice capture of Alberta Falls and Chapel on the Rock. The devastation of the flood around the Chapel is so sad. I was in the park hiking on Tuesday as well. What a gorgeous day it was. I’m so glad you had a fantastic day of hiking. I’m hoping we can get together one more time before our southern migration…. let me know 🙂

  • So glad you’re enjoying your time in Colorado. We did that same hike in RMNP last summer. Tim climbed up the falls to Sky Pond, but I couldn’t bring myself to scale those slippery, wet rocks. The pictures he took up there were pretty, but I didn’t regret not making the climb 🙂

    • We talked to several people who had scaled the wall and most said that Sky Pond was just ok. Given the rains they had, the rocks were pretty slick. I’m at the age where I try to practice caution a bit more. 🙂

  • Glad you were able to get in a few beautiful hikes even though your time was broken up with other commitments:) You two are doing really well with the altitude. You definitely had some steep climbs. Starting at 9,000 feet and then climbing another 1500′ is not easy!!! Great job:)

    We hiked to Loch Lake with Jessica. She loved hiking in the Rockies and with all her long distance running, she didn’t have any trouble adjusting to the altitude. I think the best part of the Loch for her was the fact that we had to hike across snow several times and a small snow field to get to the lake. Part of the lake was still ice covered and the mountains were snow covered, as well. Of course, this was June 8th when she arrived. Two weeks earlier friends hiked there and had snow to their knees!! I guess early June is the opening of many of the trails.

    Those beets and carrots are so beautiful. I am drooling just looking at the picture.

    So glad you and Ingrid were able to get away for a girls day but I am so jealous. I wanted to be there:) Hope the four of you were able to get in a few more visits.

    Safe travels to Oklahoma! Have a wonderful time with the grandchildren:)

    • Thanks Pam. We loved Loch Lake and the views from Timberline Falls was wonderful. It was a great hike for us to do at higher altitude.

      We are heading out bright and early tomorrow morning and are looking forward to seeing the kids and grandkids, although it will be a quick visit.

      Wish you could have been with Ingrid and I. We miss you guys and look forward to rendezvousing again. 🙂

  • Perfect blog post title, LuAnn! I’m with you, my preferred way of getting high is by hiking. (Although a glass or two of wine isn’t bad, either….) I’m impressed with how easily you seem to adjust to hiking at high altitudes. Those were some serious elevation gains! Gorgeous captures of the clouds and the waterfalls.

    • Thanks Laurel. Hiking, wine or a micobrew will do for me. 🙂 I did notice the altitude when we did this hike. Several years ago I hiked Mt. Humphrey in Flagstaff, AZ and learned then that altitude and I are not friends. I hiked the last 300′ feeling like I had a bad case of the flu and vertigo…not pleasant. That peak topped out at about 11,500′. This wasn’t as bad but I still felt the effects.

  • Colorado is so special! Your photos are beautiful. I can’t wait to get back there next year. I’ve been taking lots of notes about all the awesome hikes I want to do. This one goes to the top of the list!

  • You definitely caught my eye with the title, not that I need some sleight of hand to get me reading of course. I am impressed with your altitude endeavours, I appreciate you doing the hard work so we can enjoy your photos.

    • Since we are now in the state where marijuana is fully legalized, both for medicinal and recreational use, I thought I should take advantage of the opportunity. I will admit that altitude and I are not on the best of terms. Kinda a love-hate relationship. 🙂

  • Dame! So beautiful. I’m planning on going to Colorado this winter. That’s the only time I’m free. I wonder if it’s an appropriate to go there. Ingrid’s Colorado blogpost really makes me want to go. It’s a bit overwhelming. But here again, it really convinces me that Colorado is the place to go.
    How long does a 6-mile hike take? You are so lucky to meet with Ingrid. What an envy. 😀

    And no the title didn’t suprise me … I always knew you are on something. 😀 I’ve known that you’re addicted …. to hiking on whatever heights.

    • I’m on something all right, but not what’s they’re smoking here in the good state of Colorado! 🙂 We lived in Colorado for a couple of years when I was transferred here for a job and we loved it. If you love nature, Colorado is a great place to be. If you want a snow experience or can embrace some colder weather, come to CO in the winter. It is a beautiful state.

      As far as a 6-mile hike, it all depends on the elevation and how many times you stop to take photos. If you didn’t stop and just got on with the hike, you could do a 6-mile hike in 2-3 hours, provided it wasn’t all uphill.

      Are you still going to Greece? Will you be around at all this winter? We will be in the Temecula area most of the winter and I would love to get together, now that neither of us are no longer shy. 😉

  • Your beautiful photos make me miss Colorado even more… Breathtaking views. How fun that you and Ingrid spent time together 🙂 I love this post, LuAnn! I hope you’d consider publishing a travel book, I’m serious.

    • Thanks so much Amy! Colorado is a state we will have to come back to, as there is so much beauty here. As for the travel book, I think there are those with so much more material than me (hint, hint). 😉

      • 🙂 I might mentioned to you before, we had lived in Boulder for six years before moving to Texas. My daughter has been a die-heart Broncos fan. She has to fly to Denver once year to watch the game and doesn’t mind to pay $500 for a ticket. 🙂

  • Love your title, LuAnn. 🙂 The hike looks very exhilarating, and I’m not surprised you didn’t want to scale the vertical wall. Much easier to watch someone else do it. That sunset is magnificent. What a treat at the end of your strenuous day! 🙂

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