Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Smelling the coffee – Part 2

Labor day looong weekend – day 2-3: Crested Butte

After a night of restless sleep in a tent glowing with moonlight, we woke up to a beautiful morning in the Sand Dunes. We did a short hike to the dunes overlook and sat on a log bench taking in the morning for a while. It was lovely. 

Then it was back to the car for the three-hour drive to Crested Butte.


When we arrived at the Crested Butte Hostel it started raining, which was perfect for a nap! Friday was turning into a wonderfully lazy day. Post-nap, we showered and walked to town for dinner. We stopped in at The Dogwood while mulling over the dinner options and had some fabulous cocktails, including the Bee Sting (tequila + habanero + honey + mint + lemon). We took our cocktail-refreshed selves next door to the Sherpa Café for dinner. We shared some momos and other Nepalese and Indian dishes and enjoyed the people watching in this very small restaurant that was full of authenticity and character.

The next morning we had a quick breakfast at the Bacchanale, then headed out on Kebler Pass Road to start our hike to Swampy Pass. The hike was beautiful. The path was lined with mushrooms in spots through large clumps of  Aspen trees. Every so often the trail would spit us out onto these big, gorgeous meadows and then dive back into the Aspens. I highly recommend it. Here are some photos:

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The green Aspen leaves were turning golden on some trees but I thought this leaf in transition was pretty interesting:

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The hike went through the West Elk Wilderness and there is open grazing for cattle there. We didn’t see any cows, but, well, we did see some cow remains:

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Also, someone placed this deer skull portion in a small tree beside the trail:

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Although we apparently missed a bear (a strange guy at the trailhead told us it was behind us for a while), we did see a wee snake:

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The views in general were amazing:

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With our many stops to snack and just enjoy the surroundings, the hike took up the better part of the day. So, once back to the car we headed out for our next destination – Salida!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Stop and smell the coffee – part 1

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Labor Day loooong weekend – Day 1: Great Sand Dunes National Park

First there was a requisite stop in Salida on the way for my Amica’s fix! After a lunch of pizza with Italian sausage, caramelized onions, green chiles, goat cheese, mozzarella, and pesto and a headwaters IPA, we took a walk by the river. Dempsey is not as comfortable in the water as his breed (flat coat retriever) might lead one to believe.  While leaning in to get a cool river drink he sort of fell/jumped in. He struggled to get out on his skinny front legs and was drenched after.

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Then we were off into the San Luis valley for the journey to the Great Sand Dunes.  We set up camp and headed out for the high dune.

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Hiking the dunes is tricky. There are areas of more compact sand but plenty of places where the sand slips under your feet and makes it much more difficult. Luckily the sand was not super hot, so I could hike in Chacos!

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It was pret-ty windy and we followed several ridges to what we believe is the high dune. The clouds and the dune ridges make for some amazing views.

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Due to the pelting sand coming over the dune ridges in the wind and Dempsey’s height, he was getting pretty beat up by the blowing sand. We beat a fast retreat down the dunes as the sun started to set.

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The temperatures were perfect for a picnic-table dinner and the full moon made the night magical. Couldn’t have asked for a better camping experience in the dunes.

Stay tuned for more smelling the coffee!