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.