Tag Archives: estes park

Estes Park Weekend Getaway

Jordan and I love Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Sure, Estes is a tourist town, but it’s a fun little spot, and we try to get up there several times a year. We like to go in the summer, of course… but so does everyone else. For the last few years, we’ve ventured there in November or December, and the town is almost a completely different place. No traffic. No reservations needed at restaurants. No rude tourists. Just the locals and a few straggling tourists like us.

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A few weeks ago, we talked about how disappointed we were that we hadn’t made it to Rocky this fall, and how we probably weren’t going to have time. But then we decided that if we wanted to go, we had to make the time. We blocked out this weekend and made a hotel reservation, and last Friday after work, we headed up into the hills. A light snowstorm came along with us, so the drive up the canyon was slow, but we eventually made it up, checked into our hotel (Murphy’s Resort: highly recommend) and grabbed some dinner (Estes Park Brewery: meh) before heading back to our room and crashing for the night.

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Dinner at Estes Park Brewery with a festive tree. 
The next morning, we woke up to the sound of wind howling outside the window …  but we also woke up to this:
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After checking the forecast for Bear Lake (one of the most popular spots in the park) and seeing that it would have a wind chill of -17, we opted out of our hike/snowshoe plan, as we didn’t have appropriate gear for those temps. I headed out for a quick, cold, and beautiful 4-mile run around Lake Estes, during which I kicked myself several times for leaving my buff neatly folded in the drawer at home.

After a hot shower and a hotel breakfast, we headed to the Holiday Market that just happened to be going on this weekend. We found some treasures (mostly tea… we have a tea addiction), then wandered around town for a while, were we bought some more tea at Dragonleaf Tea, where we also found a sign that made us feel better about the aforementioned addiction:

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I bought that ear warmer at the Holiday Market. It’s alpaca. I’m a hipster and sheep’s wool is too cliche for me. 
After we’d wandered a bit, we decided that it was warm enough now to drive up into the park and see if we could find some snow to tromp.

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We stopped at Sprague Lake to eat our PBJs (in the car, because brr), then layered up and braved a very short walk around the lake. The wind was whipping, but the lake was beautiful.
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Even though we were cold, we had fun stomping through the snow. We really felt like wimps when we saw a couple getting wedding pictures taken. Yes, in her wedding dress. BRRR.

We finished our little snow tromp and chose to drive around in the warm car for a bit, stopping several times for photos of the beautiful scenery, even though we knew our iPhones could never do justice to the glory of the mountains.

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After a few more pictures, we cruised back into town to check out the tree-lighting ceremony. The actual lighting wasn’t set to start for over an hour, and the festivities were mostly kid-related, so we went wine tasting instead. Well, Jordan tasted.  I drank wassail because it’s okay to feel festive before Thanksgiving when you’re in the mountains (at least that’s my rule).

After wine tasting, we went back to the hotel to relax and clean up for dinner at the Rock Inn Mountain Tavern. It’s one of our favorite places in Estes: good food, live music, and great atmosphere. We had a lovely little date night and were back to the room, in bed with our books, by nine. Wild party animals, we are.

Sunday morning, I went for another little jaunt around Lake Estes (Sundays are usually my rest day, but I couldn’t resist one last run in one of my favorite places). Then we packed up, had breakfast, and went to Kind Coffee (another great little place) for some coffee-drinking and river-watching before heading back down the canyon toward home.

This was one of the best weekends we’ve had in a long time: no stress, no crowds, no to-do lists, just some much-needed quality time together and stunning scenery. Now it’s back to work for all of two days, then back (the other direction) over the mountains for Thanksgiving.

What’s your favorite local (to you) getaway spot? 

What are your Thanksgiving plans? My whole family will be together for the first time in… I can’t even remember how long. I cannot wait.

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A Few Days in My Happy Place: The Mountains

This is a picture-heavy, word-light post. Because mountains.

I was very fortunate to spend most of last week in the mountains, continuing my work on Operation Become a Trail  Runner and just enjoying my favorite place in general. From Monday afternoon to Thursday morning, J and I attended an education conference in Breckenridge. The conference was great, but the best part was spending an hour or so every morning running on the trails right behind our hotel.

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There was still quite a bit of snow up high, so this creek was flowing fast.

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I really hoped to see a deer or elk here, but nope… just a pretty park. Not complaining.

One morning, I decided to run up the ski-lift maintenance road. I  turned around about half a mile past this:

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And was rewarded with this view, to which my iPhone camera just couldn’t do justice:

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The final morning was cloudy and misty, but the mountains were stunners nonetheless.

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And I took a “runfie” because sometimes I remember I’m a blogger.

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I always look confused in selfies. Probably because I feel like a fool taking them.

We left Breckenridge at noon on Thursday and headed straight to Estes Park, where we met Jordan’s family for the weekend. We drove over Trail Ridge Road, which neither of us had ever done. It was stunningly beautiful; if you ever have the chance, drive it! Again, our iPhones couldn’t capture the breathtaking beauty of the mountains, but here’s a series of pictures from Trail Ridge to give you an idea.

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We stopped at the Alpine Visitors Center, where I read this on a sign about the area’s history: “The Ute People believed the trails were living beings who held the community together.” I kinda love that.

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Friday morning, I woke up and drove a few minutes from where we were staying to Lily Lake, which is technically in Rocky Mountain National Park, but on the non-paying side of the entrance stations. I took a side trail and ran for a while, catching these foggy mountains from just above the lake

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Somehow, I got on the wrong trail and ended up on private property. Please don’t tell.

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(This time I look confused because I was…)

I fairly quickly made it back to where I meant to be (thanks to studying the map for a looong time the night before), and headed back in time to clean up and spend the day playing tourist in town with my in-laws.

Saturday, the whole family was heading into RMNP, so I decided just to hike instead of run. The whole clan walked around Bear Lake; then J and I took a side trail for a few extra miles before meeting back up with the group for lunch. I love getting off the super-popular trails and off to where it’s just me, Jordan, and the wildlife.

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We watched this guy for several minutes. He ignored us. That’s a good thing.

And here’s another fast-flowing stream. It was gorgeous. (And yes, I’m rocking my Skirt Sports).

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By the time we finished our sandwiches, afternoon thunderstorms were starting to brew, so we headed back into town.

Sunday morning, we were up at 4 and gone by 4:30, headed out of the mountains and down to Louisville for the Skirt Sports 13er, which I’ll recap soon!

The week was awesome and left me wanting more mountains. Luckily, I don’t have to wait too long, as we’re going camping in a couple of weeks for our anniversary!

What’s your favorite hiking/trail running spot?

Ever been to Breckenridge or Estes?

Fall Classic Marathon Training, Week 13

It’s September now. Did anyone else’s summer just fly away? This also means that my marathon is two weeks from yesterday. To say I’m feeling less than confident is an understatement, but all I can do now is trust the training. I like to think of this past week as the first week of taper, although my mileage was equal to what I ran two weeks ago. Calling it “taper” in my head seems like a nice little mental trick to make myself think I’m relaxing.

I’m rambling. Let’s just look at how the week went.

Monday:
AM: 7 miles of fartleks

PM: Full-body strength. I did two circuits instead of my usual three, because tapering made a handy excuse.

Tuesday:
AM: 9 miles easy. Both Monday and Tuesday were treadmill-only days, because this was happening:
photo 1Getting struck by lightning is my least favorite way to start the day, so I opted for the treadmill.

PM: 30 minutes of yoga.

Wednesday: 
Tuesday night, I looked at the forecast. It said 74% chance of morning thunderstorms, and only 30% at 5-7 P.M. I opted for the evening run. Although it wasn’t storming after all in the morning, I was happy for the extra sleep. So I ran after work: 10 miles with 8 at goal pace. Finally, goal pace felt good. I felt like I could keep going (my schedule allowed for up to 12 GP miles), but I opted not to, since these sinister fellows were building up:
photo 2 (3)Calling it quits when I did  was a great choice: I had just gotten home when it started hailing. Whew!

Thursday: 
40 minutes of strength training. I knew I was moving my long run to Sunday and didn’t want to run seven days in a row, so I didn’t run Thursday.

Friday: 
8.1 easy miles — 5 on the tready and 3.1 outside once it was a little light. No PM workout because I was eating pizza with friends. Worth it.

Saturday:
8.2 easy miles and some abs. Then, we cruised up to Fort Collins, where we met my in-laws. My mother-in-law and I got pedicures and facials (my birthday present. I like dragging my birthday out for a month), and then we all headed up to Estes Park for a little Labor Day weekend escape.

Sunday: 
15 miles in Estes Park. I had hoped to get in one more all-downhill run before the marathon, but the roads up there have no shoulder and lots of traffic. I like living, so I opted for the bike path and rolling hills instead.
photo 3 (1)There’s a rainbow up there. It was beautiful and my iPhone doesn’t do it justice.

 

It was a fast-finish long run, and although my “fast” pace bounced around due to the hills and a random 10-minute rainstorm that blew through, I still felt good about it and finished strong. That was a nice feeling after so many tough FFLRs. Plus, I had views like this, so how bad could it be?
photo 4Obviously, this was a great weekend. It rained off and on all day, so no mountain exploring could happen, but I love Estes and it was fun. We also drove the race course (it’s the only road from Ft. Collins to Estes). I’m curious to see just how they block it off for the race. I’m also even more pleased that the race benefits flood victims. I hadn’t been up there since before last fall’s flood, and I was amazed by just how much devastation there was.

Totals: 57.3 miles, under two hours of strength/yoga

This week, taper starts in earnest. I’m actually kind of looking forward to it, which is uncharacteristic. I hope that means taper madness won’t get me like it usually does!

Have a great week, friends!

What did you do for Labor Day weekend?