Estes Park, Colorado
07.06.2016 - 07.06.2016
I wake up in my hostel room and the guy across the bed from me asks if I want to go exploring with him towards Fort Collins. I immediately and enthusiastically reply yes.
It's a hot day in early June. We head about 35 miles NW from Denver to a little town buried in the mountains, Estes Park. On the way up a bighorn sheep is resting next to the road. We drive through deep canyons with sheer cliff faces bordering us in. There are ranches and large grazing pens here, and we stop at a horse farm where they offer rides. Declining, we watch for a bit. We stop at a small goods store with a tower and water mill, and climb the stairs to the top. We pass through a charming little village and grab lunch, authentic Mexican, on a rooftop of a ski villa. From there we sight lines running into the mountains, and after asking around find they are gondolas. Up we go!
In the area immediate to the landing are a high concentration of visitors. We venture out to hike to the peak of this mountain, which is not far but does allow some peace and solitude. There are approximately several thousand chipmunks on this mountain.
On the way back down the gondola it begins to rain. We head towards town, where in the center is a small rocky plateau with sheer cliffsides. An owl and family are nested here. We hike through a meadow along a small stream and hike up a trail to the top. Here a historic building rests its ruins. The roof is gone, and the floor is crumbled, instead a metal platform has been installed. I am standing under the arch of a brick doorway as it begins to thunder and rain. I point out that standing on metal isn't the best place to be, and we hustle back down the mountain, breaking into a run as it begins to hail. We take shelter under buildings as much as we can and make our way back to the car under full aerial assault.
We drive further into the mountains and witness elk jumping a fence. Further up more elk are to the other side of the raincloud, resting in a field.
The rain lasts an hour before easing off. We drive deep into the mountains here and wander. By evening we have made it to Fort Collins, just in time to catch a music festival in downtown. We grab dinner and go to a pub where a singer-guitarist is playing.