My husband recently turned the big "4-0". Since he is figuratively going over the hill, he decided he literally wanted to go over one too! So he booked a long weekend in Vail, Colorado for the two of us. No kids. Just a weekend for us to celebrate his birthday and to do as much hiking as we could. Because there is nothing like reaching a milestone birthday that makes you want to push your physical limits just a bit :)
We flew into Denver and then drove to Vail. Since we live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area (which is flat and covered with cement), the mountains and trees in Colorado always amaze us. We stayed at the Marriott Resort in Vail. Jeff had been there before with work. But it was my first time. I loved Vail Village and all the restaurants and shops that you could easily walk to.
We arrived in Vail right around lunch time, so we ate and then put our on hiking boots. The waitress at the restaurant had recommended we try "Berry Picker Trail" on Vail Mountain. And because we were right there, we decided to give it a shot!
It was the end of October and we had missed the changing leaves on the aspen trees. But they were still spectacular to me.
We had a map of the trails, but we literally had no idea where we were. The trail was hard to follow, so we just made our own way. Hiking Vail Mountain really gets your heart rate going! We trudged up and up for 2 hours, before finally deciding we had made it to the highest point we could reach.
And you know what they say, what goes up.... must come down. It was a steep climb up and a steep one down. My legs almost wanted to run! Since it was off season in Vail, the gondola was not operating. Otherwise, it would have been nice to catch a ride down. But instead we got a really amazing workout, both ways!
And once we had completed our impromptu 4 hour hike, we rewarded ourselves with drinks & hummus. (Look behind us-- that's what we had just climbed! We later found out it was rated as 'difficult'- which sounds about right!)
The next morning, we woke up early to tackle a fourtneener. Colorado is know for having lots of these-- they are mountain peak's with at least 14,000 feet in elevation. We had done some research about Gray's Peak prior to our trip to CO. Several hikers had warned us that it was almost too late in the season to try to make it to the top. By the end of October, snow usually sets in. But since this was Jeff's 40th birthday trip-- we were willing to test ourselves and see just how high we could climb.
We chose to tackle Gray's Peak. It was rated as a 'difficult' hike but a good one to try for our first fourteener. Even though the temps that day were supposed to be in the high 60's, we added lots of extra layers just in case. And then... we headed out. The entire trail is 13.2 miles and the elevation rises quickly. I just kept thinking about the long distance runs I have completed, the only way to get to the end is by taking it one step at a time. Mountains are the same.
Soon the wind picked up and the temperatures dropped. We got up above the tree line and it was cold! Then we hit the snow and ice.
The trail was a slippery, icy incline surrounded by a steep-drop off. You had to use your hands to climb and stay low to keep your balance in the wind. We ran into a group of women who were attempting to climb but had stopped due to the ice. They were kind enough to take our picture and then they headed back down. They had gone as far as they could.
But we decided to climb on. I have to admit, it was exhilarating but also very scary. I kept thinking "If we fall off the side of this mountain... then what?!" But we kept climbing. Finally, a very-fit-ultra-athlete-cool-guy passed us. After a few minutes, we saw him coming back down the mountain. "Trail is too icy!".... Which is when we decided we had gone far enough too.
Even though we didn't hit 14000 ft, we made it to 13000 feet. We accomplished something pretty cool and had fun doing it. That night we celebrated and made a promise that we would come back next season to hike it again. And reach the summit.
The next morning, we were up and at 'em again! Our final hike was to Booth Falls. Once again, we were surprised by the steep incline of the trail. Our hearts were beating like crazy. But this was definitely my favorite hike. The scenery along the way was gorgeous!
And the waterfall at the top was spectacular. I climbed and climbed, trying to see 'where the water started'. I can't remember the last time I had that much fun climbing rocks.
We brought our lunch with us and had a picnic next to the water. It was the best 'water-front' dining I have ever experienced :)
And that was our trip! It was fun to tackle so many physical challenges together. At the end of the trip, we both felt stronger, accomplished and a bit exhausted too. It was an awesome three days!
You may have noticed my black ring in the photos. It is a silicone wedding band from Lucky Rings. Jeff and I both have them. Lucky Rings are lightweight, waterproof, durable, and super affordable. I never wear my gold wedding band to the gym (or when we are outside hiking, swimming, biking etc) But now that I have my Lucky ring, I can always wear a wedding band. It is super comfortable and comes in a variety of colors. My favorite is the black one. Check them out here and you can use the code 'craftytexasgirl' to get 20% off your order. (Best part- they have a 100% satisfaction guaranteed policy. So if you are unsatisfied for any reason you get a full refund or they will swap your ring for the correct size!)
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