It was a long travel day from Glenwood Springs to Estes, but the scenery while traveling east on 70 was pleasing to the eyes. This is my first time in Colorado during the fall, and the foliage is just spectacular! I am in awe of the aspens and how some change from green to yellow, yet only a few change from green to orange or red. There are multiple shades of green as the cottonwood, elm, and aspen trees nestle together.
This photo doesn’t do justice to the captivating beauty.
We passed several ski resorts: Arrowhead, Beaver Creek, Vail, Copper, Keystone, and Arapaho Basin. I don’t recall which two resorts I took pictures of, but I am going to share anyway. They look so different without snow all over.
The next two weeks we spent primarily in Estes. We saw Papa and Mama almost every afternoon. We didn’t do a lot of hiking, but we did drive around in Rocky Mountain National Park for different excursions. For the first time EVER, I walked around the town of Estes and went in just about every store. Estes Park is a tourist town which slows down considerably once the snow season arrives. Most of the campgrounds in the area shut down by October 1st.
We spent one night at Elk Meadow Lodge so we could do some laundry. The next day we moved to our favorite campground, Hermit Park, to our fifth different site, B4.
On Thursday, September 20, we set out on our first hike in a while to Chapin Pass in RMNP for a hike to Chiquita Peak. The only way to get to this trail head is via Fall River Road, a one-way, winding dirt road with narrow switch backs. This road is closed off season. The hike was only about 2.5 miles one way to Chiquita Peak. Starting elevation was 10,640’ and the peak was 13,269’. That is an elevation gain of 2,629’ in only a short distance, which translates to steep terrain. At the beginning of the hike the weather was sunny with comfortable temperatures.
We reached a point where the skies clouded over and a snow squall began.
We quickly added layers of clothing before continuing on. We ran into four guys who were discussing whether to continue going forward or to descend. They were all in shorts and didn’t appear to have more layers to put on. Two went on ahead of us and two retreated. We continued along alpine tundra (above tree line) with blowing winds of about 30 to 40 mph with gusts at 60 that were blowing me around. I kept asking myself why I like this so much.
I stopped several times on the final, steepest ascent, and Scott would say that we had gone far enough and should turn around. But I am competitive, and I wanted another peak. So we trudged farther up. There is a feeling of accomplishment for me when I reach a peak, especially when I want to quit multiple times. The views are always breathtaking, and you feel as if you are on top of the world!
We found a little wind break made of rocks and ate our lunch. We took a selfie to prove our successful quest of another peak, and Scott couldn’t resist taking a short video. I guess he wanted to share the wind with you.
We had our lunch and rested but not for too long as the wind was still kicking in and we need to start the descent. We put on more layers, and I opened a pack of hand warmers since my gloves were not providing enough warmth.
For the next hour or two, the howling wind was not exactly music to my ears. It reminded me of those cold weather, wind blowing ski days when you have just gotten off a gondola and you wished you were down in the lodge. You take off as quickly as possible just to get out of the freezing cold. Unfortunately, I can ski a lot faster down a mountain than I can walk. As we got closer to tree line, the sun was shining and the wind had somehow magically disappeared. We started to strip layers of clothing off, and it felt like a warm, summer day again. Colorado weather at its finest!
Scott felt that this hike was a good experience for me because it was more like mountaineering with the challenging conditions of high winds and cold air. I don’t think it’s the first time we’ve hiked in high winds, but I wish I had had my ski goggles with me. Next time. On the drive back to camp, I took a picture of the mountain we had just hiked. Chiquita is the one second from the left.
We stopped to take a better picture. Can you pick out Chiquita in the picture below?
On Friday, we had to move out of Hermit Park since EVERY weekend was booked since summer began. We headed back to expensive, full hook up Elk Meadow Lodge for the weekend. On Sunday, we moved back to more affordable Hermit Park, and were quite pleased with our sixth new site, B24. This was the biggest site so far, and our new favorite! It had a really long driveway, and we had to back the trailer in. It was the last site in the campground.
There was enough room for several more cars and multiple tents! We could have hosted a party!!
Here is a view from our own rock climbing playground.