Sunday, July 7, 2013

A long weekend in the mountains

July Fourth weekend afforded us the chance at four straight days off. So we took advantage of it.

Against our better judgment, we spent July Fourth at Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs with about 10,000 other people. But it was still beautiful (and even better once we got away from crying children, strollers and all that).

The Siamese Twins trail gets you away from the crowds, mostly because it's not paved and you actually have to do a little bit of work. It's only one mile round-trip and a relatively easy hike, but it's amazing what tourists will bypass sometimes. It had the best view of Pikes Peak alongside these impressive rock formations — the Siamese Twins. 

On Saturday, we decided to get up super early and drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. Since we're still not in high-altitude shape, we chose an easier trail that promised great views — a 1.7-mile, one-way hike to Gem Lake, with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. 

The views of the Rockies along the way were incredible, and the ability to go off-trail and climb on granite rocks was the best part.

Almost to the top finally! The lake is just to the right of this ridge.

And we made it! It was the perfect place for an early lunch to cool off from the aerobic climb to the top.

The view from near the top was the absolute best, overlooking the small resort town of Estes Park. RMNP, we'll definitely be back soon.