Thursday, August 4, 2011

Colorado Vacation: Day Three

Sunday, May 29

We woke up a little later and took our time getting ready around the cabin. There was an art fair in Estes Park all weekend for the holiday, and we decided to check it out around 10am. We looked at all the vendor tents, bought a few items, and strolled the streets of the pretty town.

Macy and Paul bought fishing licenses for the next morning, and we picked up a new map for the cabin. Somewhere along the way, we caught wind of the fact that the forecast had changed and that while it was originally supposed to be a cool, rainy day, it was, in fact, gorgeous and the yucky weather would be moving in that evening. Hearing that, we high-tailed it back to the cabin, grabbed some leftovers for lunch, and headed out to hike our pants off.

At the cabin, we looked at the easy-to-medium trails and decided on Lily Mountain as our hiking destination. We all wanted to reach a summit, didn't want anything TOO incredibly long or steep, and this seemed to provide the perfect mix of both. At four miles round-trip, it was the shortest summit hike we could find.

Enter side-story here: In May 2004, Macy and I (and another roomie, Nancy) went on a college service trip to Colorado. Part of the time we stayed at the Salvation Army campgrounds in Estes, and on one of our "free" days, several of us decided to spend a few hours in the mountains. Macy and I were interested in a little light hiking, so we started up a trail, only to realize it was more of a short path than anything. So, we made our own trail. On a mountain. Without cell service. Or backpacks. Or water. Now, Macy is a very cautious person, but once I started up that mountain, I think I was bound and determined to get to the top.

"C'mon Macy, just a little farther! It's not too bad. We still have a lot of time. We've gone this far, we might as well keep going!" I think maybe she thought I wasn't going to turn around, and it was better to go up WITH me than down WITHOUT me! We made our way to the summit of this mountain, had breathtakingly beautiful views of the range, and then figured we should start the decent to rejoin our crew. Only we were kind of stuck. We didn't realize it was easier to crawl hands-and-knees to the top of a mountain than it was to try and walk back down it! It was too steep, so we went to the other side of the mountain where we at least had some trees to hang on to and keep us from just rolling to the bottom.

After climbing down a little bit, I started to think about how a mountain gets wider at the bottom, and how climbing down the wrong side of a MOUNTAIN would not make it easy to find our starting place, and our group. We tried to weave a little bit back to the other side, but again, being trailblazers instead of trail FOLLOWERS, we just had to kind of go where the terrain allowed us to go. After many harried moments, a run-in with a bee (Macy was ready to fall off the mountain instead of get stung by a bee), a somewhat terrifying leap off of a rock plateau, and a slightly twisted ankle, we saw....a highway! It was truly amazing to see the ground :) And although I appeared calm at the time, I later told Macy I just wasn't quite sure how things were going to turn out. We made it to the highway, but didn't have a clue where we were. I knew the general direction we needed to head, and lo-and-behold, a few minutes later, our group just HAPPENED to drive by us on the highway and stopped to pick us up. Hands down the dumbest thing we've ever done. And I do a luh-HOT of dumb things....

End side-story.

So, we pull up to Lily Mountain, and as soon as we pull into the park area, I got this weird, deja vu feeling. I said, "Macy....does this look familiar??" She immediately responded, "This is it!" We had been reminiscing about our previous hiking experience for two days, and here we were, out of all of the mountains in Estes Park, ready to summit the very same one. I was super excited to re-live our experience, only this time on an actual trail, with two other people, and plenty of snacks/drinks!
 
It took just over an hour to hike the steep, bendy two-mile trail and summit the 9,786 ft. mountain. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the views were spectacular!


Doesn't this look like some kind of reality show promo?


There was no wind, the sun was shining, and a couple little ground squirrels came up to the peak to say hello.
The top was so flat, we could wander around without feeling like we would fall. And yet, when you looked straight down or turned too fast, it was quite a woozy feeling!


Paul and Macy headed down first, while Joel and I enjoyed the views a bit longer (all that work to get up there, I couldn't just leave!!).

About 20 minutes later, we started running down the mountain and caught up about a third of the way down. I don't think the running was a good idea - while it seemed easy and fun at the time, by the end of the hike, my elbow, knee, and thighs were BURNING! Talk about total body workout! I was still very sore three days later....

Tired and happy, we decided to drive around a little bit and find another short trail we could visit. Not knowing what the weather would hold for our last day, we wanted to make the most out of the absolutely gorgeous, sunny, 70-degree day we were blessed with!

Lily Mountain Lake
We were famished around 4:00, so we ordered some pizza (Poppy's was good, but $40 for pizza? Yikes!), hiked a little ways up the mountain the cabin was perched on, started a more roaring-ish fire, and began a looooong conversation. We all four talked about everything: marriage, friends, family, the good, the bad, the ugly! It went on for hours, but it was so great to reconnect with one of my best friends, and see just how eerily alike our hubbies are, for better and worse :)

Around midnight, we crawled into our beds to get some rest for our final day in the Rockies.

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