Monday November 29, 2016 – Sunday December 4, 2016
DENVER – BOULDER – ROCKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK – DENVER
It was lovely to return to Colorado which we visited two years ago, only then it was in the middle of summer. Well this time, it was a little bit colder.
As the plane circled to land, it was beautiful to see the brown landscape stretching flat below us. We have learnt a new word for disembarking off an aircraft…now know as deplaning! We deplaned and walked to baggage claim to find that Hammers bag has somehow been lost. Some searching later and the bag was located with ‘oversized’ luggage. This is so funny, a backpack is considered oversized compared to the huge bags we watched being wheeled away from the baggage carousel.
Soon we were leaving the airport in our rental car heading towards Denver city to pick up some supplies and for Hammer to have a haircut. We were surprised to find the downtown area looking quite windswept and deserted. It was cold and by the time we found a barber it was getting dark, even though it was still quite early in the afternoon.
We were visiting friends Torgrim and Nancy in Denver, and it was dark by the time we reached their house. Hammer met Torgrim when cycling across Australia, many years ago. And Torgrim and his wife Nancy, a Denver native also met while cycling in Australia. We spent a beautiful, relaxed and warm evening at home catching up on news and plans for the new year.
The next day we did a day hike in the mountains surrounding Denver. It was great to set foot on the Colorado Trail and dream of maybe hiking the Continental Divide Trail which the CT overlaps. Great scenery with huge red rock outcrops reminescent of the Australian outback. A warm evening indoors, with great food and shared stories completed a great day.
On our last visit to Colorado we did not have time to visit Boulder. So it was great to do be able to do so this time. Plus it was a chance to meet again with the beautiful couple, Dana and Stephen – who provided me with shelter in Oregon when I was recovering from my broken ankle in late July, early August. And our oldest friends daughter, Kristin just happens to be studying at Colorado University in Boulder. We promised to see her and give her a hug from her mum and dad.
As soon as we started to approach Boulder on the freeway and see the big mountains surrounding the town it was easy to see what makes it so special. We knew of Boulders reputation for outdoor activity and with literary hundreds of trails right on the towns doorstep, it is a trail runners/hikers paradise. It has a beautiful and stylish downtown streetscape with vibrant cafes. It was lovely to walk around town despite the cold wind.
We had a late lunch with Kristin in Pearl Street. Great to hear of her experience as an exchange student and differences in university life. Her mum and dad must be so proud.
Later in the day we drove over to meet up with Dana and Stephen and see their new house with fabulous views over the Flatirons. Great to spend an evening together and to get to know them some more. Again we were treated to the most generous hospitality. We hope that our paths connect again next year on the PCT.
What time we had left in Boulder we spent exploring the I.M. Pei designed National Centre for Atmospheric Research. The Centre Museum housed fantastic and very informative weather and climate displays.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Our accomodation for the rest of our stay in Colorado was in the small community of Estes Park, the gateway town to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
The park is mostly closed for the winter but a few roads still remain open. With so few people around it was a great opportunity for wildlife watching. The weather was sub-zero throughout our stay with snow falling and strong winds on some days. It was invigorating to be out in the chilly conditions but ever so nice to have a cosy, warm apartment to come back to. We feel so lucky to be able to experience so much in so little time.
Driving out on our last day we passed another large herd of elk resting on the towns golf course. Love how easily wildlife coexists with the local community.