So remember how we were supposed to take a big hiking trip on the 4 Pass Loop near Aspen, CO in late May? Well, I called the park ranger a week before our trip – the road to the trailhead was blocked from landslides due to Colorado’s extreme recent winter with several late freeze/thaw cycles. Even if the road were passable, the snow on the mountains would make any backpacking trip impossible.
This Texas girl and backpacking newbie thought that average temps of high 60s/low 70s meant it was sunny during the day and thus no snow. That’s apparently not how the mountains operate, and it takes a while for the snow to completely melt at that altitude (peaks are around 12,500′). I seriously never thought of that and felt so silly when we had to re-schedule our trip. Lesson learned! Never book a trip before Memorial Day – and better yet, aim for late June at the earliest!
Thanks to Southwest not charging a change fee, we were able to still go to Colorado to celebrate my brother-in-laws graduation in Denver, and our big hiking trip to the 4 Pass Loop has been rescheduled to the 4th of July week.
While in Colorado for the graduation, we figured we should spend our one free morning seeing the most beautiful mountains within a reasonable driving distance. We zipped up to Estes Park and drove the part of Trail Ridge Road that was open.
The other backpacking newbie mistake I made was departing for Trail Ridge Road immediately after landing in Denver. We were at sea level just a few hours before, and needless to say, I suffered from altitude sickness the entire remainder of the trip from this little side trip, even after returning to Denver.
I must stress, that the horrible altitude sickness (nausea, headaches, lack of appetite, fatigue, insomnia – yep, I got all of it) was so worth it for these views! We could only stay a couple of hours because we had to get back for family events in Denver, but this is truly one of those Heaven-on-Earth places that just takes your breath away and leaves you feeling fulfilled and peaceful. We will definitely be back when we can spend more time exploring this area. Here are some photos from our taste of the Rockies: