High in the Colorado mountains, just outside of Silverthorne, the tiny town of Parshall sits, quietly basking in the golden hue of the surrounding aspens. A small ranch, perhaps better known for its winter activities, is where our niece chose to be married and it was their great fortune to have picked the weekend when the fall colors were at their peak. With a few hours to spare the morning of the wedding, we decided to officially become “leaf-peepers” and get in a little exercise hike as well. Ute Pass was just a few miles away and was where a hike among the aspens was possible, a place to imbue our senses with the golden aura of autumn’s arrival. How could we resist? The colors of the mountainsides were so brilliant it almost hurt to look…almost.
Here is just a snapshot of the spectacular fall color extravaganza that awaited us!
As blown away as we were by the landscape, this was just a prelude to the beauty we were to experience later that day. Our niece’s wedding day was finally here and the day was pure joy, a light breeze causing the aspen leaves to shimmer, the sun peeking through the clouds as the ceremony began, and a golden glow settling over the mountaintops. This day, this place, surrounded by family and friends, was the perfect venue for beginning a life together as husband and wife.
Sara’s close friend Lauren presided over the ceremony.
The young couple exchanging vows
All smiles as Nick and Sara are wed.
Nick and Sara, the lovely couple
Enveloped in the golden glow of love and aspens
A quiet moment before the partying begins.
We may be biased (she is our niece after all) but we thought Sara was stunning and we could not be more pleased with her choice for a husband. We were thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary day and wish Nick and Sara much love and happiness.
Given we have paid for campground fees in Colorado for the past month, you would think I could speak with some authority on activities in the area but lately I would be better equipped to speak about the creeping nature of airport security lines or traffic patterns in Denver. Too much time recently spent at the airport has been a bit of an energy zapper for us but such is life sometimes. Colorado will just have to stay on our list for further exploration, which is the beauty of this nomadic lifestyle. Not all was lost though as we had great family visits, attended a niece’s wedding (more on that later), hopped on our bikes a few times while in the Denver area, and finally caught up for a quick visit with a couple whose blog I’ve been following and whose photos I have been quite literally drooling over.
For the past 10 days our rig has been comfortably resting in the lovely Cherry Creek State Park, an urban oasis serving as Denver’s backyard playground year-round. For those who yearn to escape their personal rat race or for us full-time wanderers who want to have easy access to city life, Cherry Creek is the perfect solution.
Bikers and runners alike share the 12 miles of paved trails and the 35 miles of multi-use trails that meander through the park. I’m told that winter-hardy outdoor enthusiasts strap on their cross-country skis and glide across pristine groomed trails during the snowy months.
Cherry Creek State Park’s 4200 acres entices fishermen, boaters, jet-skiers, and archery fans as well. With lots of open space between campsites, I don’t think you could go wrong no matter which site you chose, and for us the views of a sparkling blue lake and rugged mountains as our backdrop were the perfect respite to a hectic schedule.
The 40-mile Cherry Creek bike trail runs directly through the park so biking into the city for a Starbucks and a trip to the flagship REI store was a must. The round-trip will reward you with 30 miles of spinning and aching legs, as the trek back is mostly uphill.
For a more leisurely ride, the trail around the lake and across the dam will allow you to explore the park’s many amenities and, if your timing is right, you may be able to participate in a most unusual yoga class.
As busy as our schedules were, it is a wonder that we caught up to a delightful couple and their little Angel. Yep, Island Girl was in the house (or campground to be more precise). With their crazy schedule and ours we each had to work our flexibility muscles to squeeze in two short visits. Hector and Brenda were as warm and engaging as we knew they would be and we look forward to catching up with them again later this winter.
For those who want an escape to some fabulous destinations teeming with wildlife, click here to see how Hector views his world. It is a feast for the eyes.
We took our leave from Cherry Creek earlier than our normal departure time as we were looking forward to visiting friends in Cañon City whom we hadn’t seen in three years. It seems our timing worked out well for us as an “epic hailstorm” moved through Denver and Cherry Creek State Park early that afternoon, causing much damage. Our thoughts are with those who did not fare as well as we.
Our next stop took us to the Colorado mountains, where the fall colors where at their peak and love was in the air. Stay tuned! 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
A bridge once crossed this creek.
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.
Golden aspen lining the trail
The view from above Ouzel Falls
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.
Water-polished boulders sit at the bottom of Ouzel Falls
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.
Big skies and pine-filled lungs
Nearing the top
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.
Billowy clouds floating above The Loch
Cutthroat trout makes good fishing in these lakes.
The Loch, a lovely alpine lake
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.
Terry watching hikers scale the vertical wall
Our summit at Timberline Falls
A view from the top of Timberline Falls
Following a brief storm, our final night at St. Vrain yielded a lovely sunset over the Colorado peaks.