I’m finally getting around to writing about my trip to Colorado over the 4th of July weekend:
I had a day off from classes over the summer so some of my friends and I decided to head off to Colorado for some backpacking and brewery visits. We went in with almost no plans at all; we knew we were heading to Boulder, but we had no idea where we were going to stay. Normally I plan almost every second of every day, so it can be very freeing (and sometimes frightening) to go on vacation purposefully planning not to plan. We arrived in Boulder on Friday afternoon and headed right away to get some dinner at Twisted Pine Brewery. We had heard of this place because of their beer called Ghost Face Killah which is made with Habanero, Jalapeno, and other peppers (don’t try it; it’s very spicy and overall just terrible). They had a bunch of great brews, and I think my favorite was the Honey Brown Ale.
A beautiful beer sampler from Twisted Pine Brewery in Boulder, CO
After dinner we started looking for a place to camp for the night. I knew that Roosevelt Forest was not far from Boulder so we drove up the mountain and hiked a mile or so until we found a beautiful place to camp by a waterfall at a little over 9000 feet.
An old sign near where we camped in Roosevelt National Forest
Enjoying some coffee in my hammock before heading out in the morning
The next morning we decided to hike up the mountain a little ways before heading into town for Mass. It was a truly beautiful hike up to Lost Lake where we stopped for only a short time before heading back down to the car.
Hiking to Lost Lake
Lost Lake @ about 10,000 ft.
On our way down the mountain we stopped at the super hippie mountain town of Nederland in order to get some coffee. Then we stopped on the side of the road to clean up a little bit in the river before heading to Mass. We went to Mass at the University of Colorado Boulder Parish where we met the priest and a bunch of the students. Several of the students knew a lot about hiking in the area so we picked their brains about the best places to go. With their advice, we decided to attempt to summit Grey’s Peak the next day.
Grey’s Peak is what mountaineers call a “14er,” meaning it is over 14,000 ft. in elevation. Grey’s peak is the 14th tallest peak in the continental US, so we knew we were in for a challenge. Since none of us had climbing experience we didn’t know what to expect, but we figured we’d do the best we could and see if we could make it to the summit.
We arrived at the base of the mountain which was around 11,000 ft. to camp for the night. We stayed just below the tree line, meaning that no trees could grow farther up the trail from where we were because of the high elevation. It was a beautiful sight, and we were excited and nervous about attempting to summit the next morning.
The view from the base of Grey’s Peak
We woke up early the next morning to start our hike. We decided to summit Grey’s Peak and then, depending on how we were feeling at the top, to decide if we wanted to continue on to Torrey’s Peak. It was incredible how easily I got out of breath at this elevation. We were walking at a slow pace and I was still breathing heavily. The first half of the trail was fairly easy, but once we were several miles into the hike it got extremely steep. Being 4th of July weekend there were a lot of people on the trail, but not enough to slow things up too much. I enjoyed seeing people’s reactions when they noticed I was hiking in my Chacos (apparently people don’t normally hike through the snow in sandals).
Elevation profile of the trail
The last stretch up to the peak was the hardest. We would walk for a short amount of time and then rest a little before moving on. The summit was absolutely beautiful! Unfortunately it was very cold (well below 0 with the wind chill) so we didn’t want to stay for long. We met a guy who took a picture of us with his nice camera and emailed it to us once we got home. I decided to continue on to summit Torrey’s while the others decided to head back down and wait for me.
On the summit of Grey’s Peak
Overall it was about a 9 mile hike and it took us over 6 hours. The whole time I was hiking felt like a dream. I kept thinking to myself “I can’t believe I am actually doing this!” Part of my wonder could have been from the elevation messing with my head, but mainly I was enamored with the beauty of God’s creation. After the hike we headed to Denver to get something to eat. We ate at Breckenridge Brewery which had an excellent Vanilla Porter. After dinner we visited Great Divide Brewery to pick up a growler before heading to a hotel to shower and relax for the night. The next morning we went to Mass at the Denver Cathedral which is perhaps my favorite of all the cathedrals I’ve been to.
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Denver
After Mass we headed home. Overall it was an incredible vacation. Jesus, mountains, and beer: it’s hard to go wrong with that combination!