Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area
Every year, while Madison is away visiting family, Rick and I pack up our mountain bikes and head off in search of fun and adventure. We were going to go to Moab again this year, but decided to explore a little of our own backyard in Colorado. We’ve lived here for two years now and there are still so many great places that we haven’t seen yet. So, after doing a little research on where we should go, we packed up and headed to Salida, Colorado. Salida is a cute, tiny little town that is nestled amongst some of the most gorgeous mountain views that I have ever seen, plus it is very close to Denver. We had thought about driving down to Durango, but decided that the distance to Salida was perfect for an extended weekend. We left work a little early on Wednesday afternoon and made it to our downtown condo in a little over three hours. Our condo was dog friendly, so we brought Piper (a.k.a. Dog) on our vacation. She was very excited to be there and had the whole place sniffed out in minutes.
Salida was over 7,000 ft in altitude and most of the bike trails started at 9,000 ft and topped at 10,000 or 11,000, so we went out on a hike to get used to the altitude. I had done an 8.5 mile run the day before, so my legs were a little tired and the trail was literally straight up for two miles over rocks and roots, but it was a beautiful hike. Along the way, there were little piles of snow that had yet to melt and it was really odd to see the snow if June. Dog loved it though, she would find a pile and rush over to roll and lay in them. The trail came to an end over tree line and there was a lake surrounded by flowers and the sun was brilliantly reflected off the pristine water. We stayed for a little while at the top while Rick tried out his new fly fish rod and I threw Piper the ball into the water. I hoped that I would spot a Yeti and kept my eyes peeled with the camera close by, but alas…I never saw one. Damn. Rick’s fishing was a bust due to a broken tip on his fishing pole (and the dog bouncing around in the water), so we headed back down to civilization.
We did several mountain bike rides, but my favorite was a 19 mile loop on the Rainbow trail. The trail started out with an eight mile gradual climb up a fire road. I know the fire road sounds pretty dull, but this particular road climbed up through the pines and had gorgeous views of mountain peaks. We eventually came to the single-track trail, which was named Rainbow Trail. Most trails in the mountains have grueling climbs at the beginning of the trail, which can last anywhere between 2 – 5 miles, but this trail was like a roller coaster with rolling hills. Unfortunately, I was just coming off of an inner ear infection and I had been dealing with a mean case of vertigo. I have had this before, and my doctor had said that the ear just had to work itself out and in the meantime, I could take Antivert to lessen the vertigo and nausea. So when I woke up, got out of bed, and the room started spinning, I sent Rick out to pick up some Antivert. Anyway, the medicine lessened the spinning, but I still felt a little disoriented throughout the whole ride each time I would hit a rock in the trail. Basically, I spent the whole ride feeling like I was in a drunken stupor. Towards the end of our ride, the afternoon rain storms came in and we were drenched and spent the last few miles sliding down the muddy trail to our car. We earned that ride.
Near Rainbow Trail
Ready to do the Rainbow Trail
Views from the Trail....that's me biking on the left.
Part of Rainbow Trail. Beautiful ride through an Aspen forest
My legs after the ride/rain. Good thing we brought the old beater car
Salida is near the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness Area. Collegiate Peaks is one of the ten largest wildernesses in the state. There are more fourteeners and high peaks than any other wilderness area in Colorado or the lower 48 states. Eight peaks exceeding 14,000 feet are found here, including the Colorado’s third and fifth highest summits, Mount Harvard and La Plata Peak. Simply put…it was beautiful.
Me-Ma in Salida???
Short ride where we brought the dog. Day before we left.
Vacations always end way too soon and this one was no exception. I hated to leave, but I’m sure we will be back. Our next goal is to get out to Crested Butte and then to Durango.
I ended my weekend with a nine mile run at a very SLOW pace. My legs were extremely tired, but I had to get the long run in. My goal was ten miles; I’m surprised that I even made it to nine.