The next day we took a drive up to Grand Mesa National forest. We drove up the Mesa and reached about 10,000 feet. The air was much cooler and refreshing. Steve and Debbie are big geocachers and Steve knew of a couple caches on the Mesa. We drove to a few caches and found most of them. Glenda and I are into it too but haven't been at it as long as Steve and Debbie and not quite as persistent in finding them. :-) All in all we had a fun time and enjoyed some great views of the valley below.
We stopped at a little restaurant/ice cream shop on the way back down and enjoyed a great waffle cone. Debbie had a sundae, I think. What a fun way to beat the heat and do some touring.
The following day we did a bike ride on a little trail and then rode to the downtown area of Palisade, CO. There are a number of wineries, farmers markets and peach orchards. Unfortunately we were too early for the peach crop.
Glenda and Debbie found a BMX bike track and had to show us their skills. They didn't hit the jumps too hard though. Our wives are fearless.
She explained that they grown about 3 different varieties of hops for a brewery that brews Colorado Native beer. We walked through the hop rows and then into the barn where they harvest the hops, dry them and bundle them. Very interesting tour and such friendly, informative folks. The owner even built his own packing machine to bundle the hops.
This is how the hops start out
This is maturity
They're real quite beautiful
The owners told us it takes about 2-3 years to harvest a crop from the time the crop is planted to maturity. Of course, when we finished the bike ride and started back to the campground we had to stop and buy some Colorado Native beer to check it out. The hops are wonderful in liquid form. :-)
This machine takes the hops off the vines
This is how the hops are packed in bundles
I would have taken a photo of the dryer that the owner built but I didn't want to infringe on his work and design. He is a very creative gentleman.
We also stopped downtown in Palisade and had some lunch and some liquid refreshment. Cute little downtown area. The 357 Bar and Grill was a nice place to explore the downtown area. Good food, friendly staff. That evening we had a nice campfire.
We also had a great hike on a trail? that Steve and Debbie found that followed a stream. I say trail? because we had to walk much of the time in the stream. Great landscape and we hiked until the boulders became too big to climb over. So we headed back down. What a wonderful find.
Hiking in the stream
Debbie caught a tadpole
Tadpoles in several pools
How many people does it take to take a selfie?
Well it was getting close to our time to move on to Longmont, CO and Steve and Debbie had plans to move to a site on BLM land near Leadville, CO. But before we could leave we needed to check out the local brewery, Palisade Brewery and Peach Street Distillery. Steve and Debbie had already scoped out these places before we got to the area. We first stopped at Palisade Brewery for a light dinner fare. We started with chips and salsa as we tested out their beer varieties and then decided to stay for Taco Tuesday. $1.25 tacos, we ordered a dozen and shared. Actually very good for a little brewery that doesn't really specialize in the food department.
After our flight of beers and food we took a walk downtown.
They roll up the sidewalks pretty early downtown but it was a fun walk and I saw this little display along an alley.
We headed back to the truck but first stopped for a evening cocktail at the Peach Street Distillery. Nice outdoor seating, soft music and comfortable atmosphere.
After some great conversation we headed back home and had another fantastic campfire. Always fun to share a campfire with good friends. Thanks to Steve and Debbie for providing the wood.
The next day it was time to part. We had our usual hugs and see you later's and off we went. Steve and Debbie didn't have as far to go so they were leaving a little later than us.
We had a beautiful drive to Longmont, CO and St. Vrain State Park. Our site there was not shaded but it wasn't quite as hot as it had been. We did have a little rain our first evening but overall the weather was very good. St. Vrain SP was originally known as Barbour Ponds SP with only 41 sites that were electric only. Then the state expanded the campground and added 45 sites with electric, water and sewer(FHU). We had planned ahead with reservations and it was a good thing. The place is very popular with the locals. Campsites are an easy walk from fishing, kayaking, or simply birdwatching on the trails that circle the ponds. There are 7 ponds on the property. The only down side to the park is it is close to I-25 and there is road noise. The road noise is not that bad and would not deter us from coming back again. The nice thing about the park is the proximity to our nephew and a friend Glenda knew in high school. We contacted my nephew, Logan, and made plans to hike over the weekend. the next day we drove to his apartment and decided to go to a trail near a little town called Nederland. Before driving there we toured his work office and grounds. He works for a landscape company called Native Edge Landscaping. He works as a production supervisor making sure the projects get assigned and completed.
Logan is a hard worker and the company is fortunate to have hired him.
Then we drove to Nederland and the 4th of July Trailhead. We started out at 10,100 feet and hiked about 2 miles up in elevation to 10,800 feet. Glenda and I were both doing some huffing and puffing at first but got our altitude legs going and had a wonderful hike. Very popular trailhead with cars parked along the road making difficult to pass oncoming traffic.
Logan and Amanda
The group photo
Glenda and I on the trail
WE climbed and climbed until we came to a stream/snow melt/waterfall. The water was really running fast and it was a little treacherous crossing the stream. Glenda decided NOT to.
Logan and Amanda went first
Come on Glenda you can do it
Looking up the waterfall
Looking down the waterfall
Logan, Amanda and I crossed and went a little further on the trail. WE found out from some other hikers that to get to our final destination it would take another 2 hours so we turned back to meet up with Glenda on the other side. The landscape is beautiful and breathtaking. I can't get enough of the mountains. At least in the summer.
Once back to the trailhead we drove down the narrow, rutty, gravel road to Nederland. Everyone was getting hungry and Logan knew of a nice smokehouse and brewery there.
Wild Mountain Smokehouse had great outdoor seating with nice views of the mountains. They're menu included soups, salads and sandwiches and of course, different brews. We have a wonderful dinner. After dinner we took a little walk around the town.
We drove back sown the mountain and said our see you later's.
So glad we had the opportunity to visit. Unfortunately we did not get to see our other nephew, Parker. Parker is Logan's younger brother. He lives closer to Denver and had to work over the weekend.
I know we'll be back that way again in the future and it would be cool to see them both next time.
While in Longmont we also had the opportunity to visit with an old high school friend of my brothers and Glenda's. Steve had moved to CO years ago then moved to Maryland and then back to CO. I called him and we made plans to hike in Rocky Mountain NP then next day. He picked us up at the park and we drove up to Estes Park and the Visitor's Center to the NP. After getting our stamp in our Passport book we drove to a parking lot near a shuttle stop on the route to Bear Lake trailhead. Bear Lake is just one of 4 lakes(Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake) that can be accessed in the area and starts at about 9500 feet above sea level. We got a map at the trailhead and first stopped at Bear Lake. They have wheelchair access there and a gentle trail around the lake. We continued on up to the next lake, Nymph Lake. Beautiful landscape and an incredible little lake.
Glenda and Steve
We continued to climb up another 200 feet to Nymph Lake. Great scenery and beautiful mountain views.
At these elevations we encountered several areas of snow that was still in the process of melting.
Fun in the snow
Next lakes coming up
On past Nymph Lake is Dream Lake. Now we're really getting higher and more interesting scenery.
Can you see why they call it Dream Lake?
As we walked by the lake we caught sight of a few fish swimming along. It seemed like they were following us as we walked.
Now we're getting closer to Emerald Lake
How would you like to hike up there?
We continue on past Dream Lake to Emerald Lake. Again words do not do justice to the scenery and landscape. You really need to enlarge the photos to even get any sense of what the mountains have to offer in beauty and magnificence. Not enough adjectives to describe.
We had some fun with the Panorama feature of my IPhone. Check out these photos. Again enlarge to get the full effect. Let me know what you think.
How did we get in the photo twice?
After some relaxing and watching some other folks jump into the water. The Cold Water!!!
We headed back down and took in more scenes of beauty. Emerald Lake was at 10,100 feet. We did a lot better on this hike than the previous day. Maybe just a little lower in elevation of we were more used to it. I don't know.
Steve and his wife wanted to make us dinner so we headed to his house, met his wife then checked out a couple of breweries in the area. One of my favorites is Left Hand Brewing. I'm left handed.
We got a nice growler of Old Burlington Stout at 300 Suns Brewing. Wonderful flavor. Stouts are my favorite too.
We stopped at Wibby Brewing for a Pilsner
Old Burlington Stout here
We had a great time and enjoyed meeting Steve's wife, Sally and one of his son's, Ben. Lots of fun and wonderful to connect again after so many years. No doubt we will be coming back this way again.
We leave the mountains now as we continue to move east. Next up is Ogallala, NE and Nebraska City, NE. Another new state.