Joe and I went on a road/camping trip to Twin Lakes, Colorado. It was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to and one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.
The drive down was surprisingly easy. I haven’t been driving for very long yet so I am always a little nervous before road trips. Honestly, I’m a little nervous every time I get behind the wheel and I have to go to a new location. We alternated between driving and sleeping and managed to get there in a little over a day.
We arrived in Denver a little later in the evening. The sun was setting and we knew we wouldn’t be able to find a campsite and set up in the dark, so we booked a cheap hotel for the night. First we stopped at a dispensary and picked up some goodies.
The dispensary experience as a whole was really cool for me. I didn’t really know what to expect, especially considering recreational marijuana is illegal in NY, and medical marijuana is still pretty taboo here, even though it is legal for certain medical issues. The first dispensary we went to, however, was extremely strict. They almost seemed robotic, like all the employees weren’t even real humans. It made the experience a little tense, almost like it was still an illegal activity.
Once we got our goods we headed to the hotel. Walking into the hotel, you see the lobby desk with an employee there. To the right you see the Golden Bowl, a foreign restaurant. I say foreign because I can’t remember what it actually was, but for some reason I feel like it was a Thai restaurant. I could be 100% wrong though! There were employees running back and forth between the hotel and the restaurant, I’m 99.9% sure they were running both! That was a little strange, but good for them I guess.
English was clearly their second language, so it was a little difficult to understand them. When he gave us directions to our room, he told us to go downstairs, but we were already on the ground floor. Let me tell you, I have never thought that I would stay in a hotel basement, but that is exactly what happened. Obviously we had our own room, but there were just a couple rooms down in the basement. There were a lot of doors that we didn’t have access to that just made the overall appearance of the place look sketchy. The windows were at ground level and the safety lock on ours was broken. Someone could have/already did break into that room from the ground window. The hotel room was dirty. The sheets were very clearly used and the shower was definitely not cleaned in between stays.
This hotel sucked. I would not recommend staying there, but it was a decent enough place to sleep for the night. We had just driven over 24 hours so I think we both just didn’t care. Now that I think back on it, I really feel kind of gross for having slept in that bed! I appreciated that my boyfriend booked that room for us though, it was definitely needed.
We got up the next morning and went out to hit up more dispensaries and headed towards Twin Lakes to find a campsite. The drive through the mountains to Twin Lakes was beautiful. We have the Adirondacks in New York but they aren’t nearly as breathtaking as the Rockies were. Every single place you look just takes your breath away. Every corner turned opens up a new view of sky high mountains, some topped with snow, others covered in thick trees, the rest almost completely barren. The sun and clouds would cause the shadows to dance across the mountains, completely changing their shape and sometimes their color. It was beautiful.
When we arrived in Twin Lakes we actually ended up staying at the first campsite we found. We looked for a few hours but the first one we looked at ended up being the best. We had a beautiful view overlooking the lakes and out at the surrounding mountains. We were on one of the dirt roads that lead up to the Mount Elbert South Trailhead, which we planned on hiking later in the week. After setting up camp we settled down and just had a very relaxing night.
We woke up early Monday morning. It was an unexpectedly cold night. Even with all the blankets and warm clothes we had it was still hard to get warm. Definitely a learning experience. We weren’t sure what to expect at that altitude, and will definitely come better prepared next time.
Besides the cold, it was a decent night of sleep. We honestly didn’t do a single thing on Monday. We hung out all day at the campsite, just going back and forth between eating, sleeping, and smoking. It was one of the most relaxing days of the trip and one of the most uneventful days of any trip I’ve ever taken.
After another night of freezing, we got up and got ready to tackle our first 14er, Mount Evans! Mount Evans is a 14er in the Rockies that you can drive up, then there is a small section at the top that you can hike to reach the summit. Joe drove, and had a few panic attacks on the way up. He is afraid of heights and cliffs so it was hard for him to do, but he did it! I was so proud of him. I’ve never wanted my fears to hold me back from doing things, so I’m glad he is pushing his limits.
Not too far into the drive Joe spotted a fox just hanging out at one of the pull off parking lots. Clearly this fox knew where humans were and that humans meant food. He wasn’t afraid at all, cautious, but not afraid. Another car pulled in after us and attempted to feed the fox pieces of apples, but he wasn’t interested. I got a piece of beef jerky out of the car and he took a huge interest. I was able to get him close enough where I honestly thought he would take the food from my hand, but I didn’t want to risk getting nipped at or anything so I set it on the ground and backed off. I wish Joe had gotten pictures or a video of the whole thing, but we only have pictures of the fox himself. On our way back down we checked to see if he was still around but he wasn’t.
Mount Evans was beautiful. The views were stunning all the way up and back down. Even writing this blog, weeks after this vacation has ended, I can still see the views so clearly in my head. There were 3 main sections that you could look out to that weren’t looking back down the road. There were random lakes scattered throughout the mountain. The shadows of the mountains were always changing as the clouds rolled across the sky. All of the colors of the mountains, from the different varieties of trees and plants, the striations of colors scattered throughout the rocky surfaces, the bursts of blue from bodies of water reflecting the sky followed by the blue fade as the mountains in the distance became part of the sky, these beautiful features come together in every scene in the Rockies.
Before we arrived at the campsite again we decided to check out Twin Lakes to see if we could find a spot to launch our kayaks later in the week. The sun had just started setting, and the sky was turning from blue to orange and pink. I had already thought Twin Lakes was beautiful, from the view we had from our campsite. I had no idea it would be so much more beautiful up close. The surrounding mountains seemed to enclose the lake, like it was a beautiful secret. The reflections of the sky splashed the water with orange. We unfortunately didn’t go kayaking that night, but it was nice to finally check out the lake.
On Wednesday we got to take on our second 14er, Mount Elbert! This was the hiking trip that this vacation revolved around. It was an all day hike, about 8 miles long. We unfortunately didn’t make it to the summit, but we were so close! According to other people on the trail, we were about a mile from the summit when we turned around. I couldn’t go any further. My asthma was causing me to stop every few steps and my legs were starting to feel like they were getting to their half way point. I wanted to make sure I would be able to make it back down, so we turned around. I’m glad we broke the treeline, but I wish we made it to the top.
Next time we go to Colorado we want to climb Mount Elbert again and actually succeed. Maybe by then we will be able to successfully climb a couple 14ers in one vacation. We are going to work on getting in better shape and I want to look into my asthma a little more since I’ve only had it for a year now. I need to see what will make hiking easier on my lungs, I do not want asthma holding me back.
Mount Elbert was beautiful as well. Even though we didn’t get to the summit, everything that we saw was still just as stunning as if we were looking at it from the summit. It was an incredible experience and I am really looking forward to doing it again.
After our Mount Elbert hike we were completely beat, so we just hung out at the campsite for the rest of the night. Every muscle in my body was so sore that I could feel which muscles were being used for literally every single move I made. I have never had my whole body sore like that. Climbing mountains is a lot of work, but it was so rewarding.
Thursday rolled around and Joe and I had already decided to leave a day early. We were sick of waking up from the cold in the middle of the night every night, so we decided to cut the trip a day short. It gave us extra time back home to get ready for work again, so it wasn’t bad at all.
We finally went kayaking on Twin Lakes on Thursday. Afternoon thunderstorms were common every day so we made sure all our outdoor activities were done in the morning. It was a beautiful morning kayaking on the lake, surrounded by towering mountains in every direction. I think kayaking on Twin Lakes was my favorite part of the trip. I could have kicked back in my kayak and taken a nap, but there was a storm forming over the mountains in the distance, and the storms would roll down over the lake every afternoon.
When we got back to the campsite the storm was really making its way towards us. It was absolutely insane seeing a dark gray cloud rolling down the mountain and watching the rain start pouring down in the distance. Weather has always been very interesting to me, so it was actually cool to have so many storms on a vacation.
We napped through the storm and woke up to sun. After our nap we packed everything up and started our trip back home.
Colorado was one of the most beautiful states I have ever visited. I can’t wait to go back, and it will be a consideration when we’re looking for a new place to call home.