Very early tomorrow morning, we will leave Estes Park and a few hours later, will exit the beautiful state of Colorado. This has been an amazing five weeks and we feel so fortunate to have had this much time to explore. But I also have to say that we leave knowing that there is so much more to see and experience in a state this large. Next time, I suppose!
We have stayed on the go since I last wrote an update trying to fit in as much activity as possible during our last few days. Today was our traditional last day agenda of revisiting some of our favorite places, purchasing last minute items to bring home and loading the car. We will be traveling 560 miles tomorrow to Manhattan, Kansas, so getting an early start is extremely important. But we've got the packing and loading thing down to a routine and I'm happy to say that as I write this, it's already done except for the things we'll need in the morning and the cooler.
On Wednesday, we hiked to Ouzel Falls, one of our favorites from last trip. The trailhead is in the Wild Basin section of RMNP, one of the more remote entrances and therefore, less crowded. Our strategy for beating the vacation crowd is to start very early and on this day, we were so glad that we had. We made it to the falls and actually were preparing to leave before the next people came. Judging by the number of people we met as we hiked out, the falls became VERY busy. I cannot emphasize enough, nor do pictures capture, the sheer power of the water in the rivers. They continue to rise and trails which follow rivers are simply astounding in their roaring majesty. Even at its fullest, there is nothing in the Smokies which compares to these during spring run off.
Thursday, we took the bikes to Longmont to ride the St. Vrain Greenway. Longmont is about 25 miles southeast of Estes Park and is a mid-sized town with easy access to Denver. Loveland and Longmont are the two towns most accessible to Estes Park that have most anything you might need (translation: they have a Super Walmart!!). Estes Park does have a nice Safeway grocery store, but for any variety in shopping choices, one must drive to Longmont or Loveland. And I might add that it isn't an easy drive to either town as both are at the base of the front range meaning you have to go down about 2500 feet off a mountain or through a canyon.
Longmont is city full of bike paths, one of which is the St. Vrain Greenway. We rode its length and back thoroughly enjoying every mile. It began in the countryside west of Longmont, traveled through the downtown area and back out into the countryside east of town. On our return trip, we stopped at a Panera Bread we had noticed and grabbed some lunch. About the time we finished, it came a downpour complete with thunder. Yikes, these afternoon Colorado thunderstorms can hit you quickly. We waited out the storm under a canopy at a Walgreens. They don't last long, so we were on our way again soon.
In the interest of supporting the local economy and trying new things, we stopped into a place with which we weren't familiar, but we certainly are now. Bill was looking for ice cream and when he saw something about frozen custard at a place called Freddy's, he pulled in. Turns out, Freddy's is a chain and the frozen custard was a hit! Yep, we'll be looking for another Freddy's as we make our way back across the midwest. Once we cross the Mississippi, we're out of luck!
Yesterday (Friday), we hiked to Gem Lake. This was not the original plan, but with over four feet of snow still remaining on the trails out of the Bear Lake area of the park, I finally gave in to the fact that we wouldn't be hiking those trails on this trip. Gem Lake is a nice little lake out of the Lumpy Ridge area of the park. Unlike Wild Basin, Lumpy Ridge is one of the MOST accessible trailheads to Estes Park, so saying we hiked to Gem Lake with 1,000 of our closest friends would be an understatement. But we still had a good time.
Would you believe that it snowed last night in the high country and Trail Ridge Road has been closed all day today? We could easily see the new snow when we went out this morning and even though its pretty routine around here, seeing fresh snow in June is kind of unique for us. It has been a cool, mostly cloudy day with periods of rain and wind, but then a hour or so of that brilliant Colorado sun. As we walked at Lily Lake, we could see that it was snowing above us on Long's Peak and Estes Cone, yet we were walking in shorts and short sleeves. Weather here changes dramatically VERY quickly. One has to always be prepared for about anything.
Tomorrow, we are hoping we'll get to Manhattan early enough to do a bit of exploring after checking in at our Bed & Breakfast. Although we are leaving Colorado, the trip isn't over yet and we've got some fun things planned for the next four days.
Thanks for reading!!
Monday, September 26, 2011
Farewell To Colorado
Originally published in My Trip Journal on June 18, 2011