You may or may not know this, but I’ve been in Denver for the past week for a conference for work. The conference has gone well and most of the participants have flown home.
Originally I changed my flight because I thought that project management wanted to get together here on Friday to work on some issues, but that turned out to not be the case. I ended up with a free Friday. One of my coworkers asked if I was interested in hiking and I was immediately game… Yes!
She chose an “intermediate” trail named “Herman’s Gulch,” (Panoramio) about an hour west of Denver on I-70. We took two disposable cameras since we hadn’t brought any gear along. We also packed some snacks and plenty of water. We loaded up in the rented Toyota RAV4 and headed west.
We initially had some trouble finding the trail on the GPS, but using some waypoints that it did know helped to locate it. We hopped off the highway and arrived at the trail.
When I arrived in Denver last Sunday, I was surprised at how hard it was for me to breathe. If you’ve never been here… or never been high in the mountains… it’s pretty shocking how hard it is to catch your breath, even in the city. I know I’m having trouble breathing even in my sleep because every morning I’ve been awakening with an incredibly dry mouth and chapped lips.
Getting on the trail was the real test. The net says that Herman’s Gulch has some “moderately steep” areas, but now I know that this is Hikingese for “you’re fucking insane to try this.”
The trail is about a total distance of 2.5 miles at a starting elevation of 10,000 something feet and it goes up about another 1,500 feet or some crazy shit like that. The payoff at the end of the trail is a gorgeous lake… that… well, I will likely never see except maybe on Google Maps.
We could only take about 10-20 steps before our breath would totally leave us and we had to stop. It took us 4.5 hours to travel about 1 or 1.5 miles. When we started polling people to ask how much longer the trail was, they advised that we had about another mile to go and… “just before the lake, the trail gets really steep.”
Me: “Steep as in, like the beginning of the trail?”
Hiker: “Nah, steeper than that. It goes pretty steep for about 3/4 of a mile, then you get to the lake.”
I looked at my coworker and you can start to see the “to hell with this” on both of our faces. We obviously didn’t do a good job of covering it up because the pro hikers are telling us, “It’s a beautiful lake, it’s very worth it.”
So we travel up a little more and hit “that steep area.” My coworker looks at me and says with a look of minor disappointment… “Would you kill me if I called this and we turned around?”
“Of course not!”
So we turned around and made a much quicker pace downhill to the car. It still took us roughly another hour to get back, but it really was much easier. I didn’t feel like I was a dying fish at least.
When we arrived back at the car, we headed back toward Denver but was instantly charmed by the fabulous look of Georgetown, an 1800’s mining town buried deep in the mountains just off of I-70. If you get a chance to visit here, please do. It’s wonderful to visit and drive around. The houses are incredible and the view is just so outstanding that it’s worth the trip just to see it. They have a bed and breakfast there as well, which is where I plan on staying if I ever find myself heading back out to the Denver area. For sure.
We ate at a place called the New Prague Restaurant. It’s located at 511 Rose St., Georgetown, CO 80444. (http://www.newpraguerestaurant.com) I am plugging them here because it’s VERY MUCH worth the stop here to enjoy a good dinner. Two people in Georgetown recommended this place when we asked them for a food recommendation and this was definitely the place to eat.
I had a glass of Meridian Chardonnay with a bread-crusted salmon dish. The salmon was served on top of yellow rice with a vegetable mixture and lemon butter collected all around the plate. This comes with a caesar salad (which was excellent and very balanced between greens and dressing). The waiter/owner of the establishment served a shot of what he called “liquid strudel” to everyone there this evening. It was an AMAZING drink – full of sweet apples and peaches with alcohol, served frigid cold. He topped the meal off with a key lime cheesecake that just cannot be imagined or described – you just have to try it.
On the way back, we had to head back into the downtown Denver area to pick up some knick knacks (the wife wanted some more Whole Foods bags and the kid needs a toy!) before reaching the hotel around 8:30pm.
All in all, it was an incredible day and one hell of an adventure. It’s too bad the thin air here makes me struggle to breathe, but I’m sure if I got used to it, I could certainly live here.
Sometimes I really love my work project. It takes me to exotic places on interesting adventures. It’s been a great conference and a fun trip.
Tomorrow my coworker is going rock climbing. I backed out of that one – not just because I just don’t have that kind of upper body strength, but, well, I have to fly home. I miss the family pretty bad, so while it’s been fun, it’s time to go home.
As soon as I get the pictures developed and scanned, I’ll get them posted. If they come out as well as what we shot… they’re breathtaking. I’ve never seen any nature like this. I can only hope to see it again.