Upon returning to Denver, Doug still had more work than he’s used to so we hung around the city and stayed with friends of his from his days of working in Denver (2002-03). Weather here is sunny, hot but dry and comfortable for the most part.
After our two day visit, we took the back roads to Aspen, Colorado to check out the Maroon Bells. We took scenic Highway 82 through Independence Pass which is a beautiful drive.
Doug wanted to do the four summit hike but Fran is not into backpacking so he packed up (despite misgivings on Fran’s part) his overnight backpack. The plan was to get to the trailhead Sunday night and he’d set out Monday am. However, as it turned out, this is supposedly the most popular hike in the US and the overnight parking lots near the trail heads were full so after dropping Doug off to begin the hike at 5:30 on Sunday evening, Fran went back to Aspen and had to go out ten miles southeast before finding a place to park for the night.
Monday morning, Fran headed back to the Maroon Bells trailhead before 8am (road closes to southbound traffic from 8-5) and got a good parking spot in the day use area. After brekkie, she set out on the 3.5 mile hike to Crater Lake. Doug had spent the previous night in the tent camping area there.
Fran’s hike (and Doug’s Sunday night hike) was the same hike with beautiful mountain, lake, aspen forest views. It was a decent trail with lots of rocks but well maintained.
Monday afternoon, Fran went back into Aspen, since again, there was no camping at Maroon Bells at all, and went to find wifi. Doug called her early that afternoon, the trek upwards had proved too difficult for his shoulders and the backpack did not sit correctly on his waist. In addition, the altitude was wreaking havoc on his lungs. Fran was very happy he did not press on. It has only been just over four months since his open heart surgery after all.
Fran picked him from the shuttle station and we drove north to Carbondale to spend the night at a hotel with a hot tub for a good soak.
Tuesday, we drove the scenic Highway 133 westward with lots of scenic overlooks and beautiful weather. We went north on the Highway 62 to Grand Mesa, near Delta, Colorado. This was a very pleasant surprise. Grand Mesa is one of the largest flat topped mountains in the world. We drove up to 10,500 feet and did some hiking and camped at a trail head. The wild flowers were spectacular and the hike at the Mesa Top was pretty flat (yeah says Fran!).
We ended the next day in Grand Junction, CO and camped at the OHV site camping area out near the airport. We were pretty alone there and the temperature cooled off decently for sleeping that night. Next stop: Moab and Canyonlands – our fave national park.