From what I can tell, the Denver area is pretty much all about beer and hiking. In other words, paradise. Beautiful scenery, mountains nearby, great bustling cities with breweries and restaurants galore, and trails packed with people and their dogs out hiking. I’m pretty much in love with it. I was only able to spend about a week in the area but I have every intention of going back at the end of July and spending some more serious time.
I set up camp at Chief Hosa Campground, about 10 minutes outside of Golden, Colorado. This was a good home base – 25 minutes from Denver and 40 minutes from Boulder, with Golden and Evergreen close by. The campground is a part of Genesee Park, which was very quiet with lots of nearly empty trails within walking distance of my campsite. Awesome!
These last few weeks have been very social for me. I know a couple of people in the Denver area who I was able to catch up with, including Suzanne, who was my 3 Peaks 3 Weeks teammate, back from when I had the amazing opportunity to go to South America and climb 3 mountains.
I also got to go to Pennsylvania for work for a week, which was great. I parked the RV and flew out to Philadelphia on a Monday, then drove across the state to Pittsburgh before flying back to Denver on Friday. Lots of meeting and chatting with people and talking about exciting new product ideas and we ate SO WELL. It was actually sort of weird to fly to a totally new state and time zone after traveling via car for so long. Traveling via plane with just a suitcase is VERY different from the type of travel I’m doing. By the end of the week I was missing the RV and missing my own bed and I was happy to get home. You wouldn’t think a full-time traveler could get homesick in a week, but here we are.
So I had LOTS of people-time, both in Denver and on my trip, which was really nice. And I will continue to have people-time as I head to Chicago and then Ann Arbor in the next month. No loneliness for me! It’s been really good to hang out with old friends and new friends and I am feeling thankful that there are so many wonderful people in this world that I get to meet and visit with. So if you are one of those people, thank you. <3 (SAPPY MOMENT OVER NOW).
ANYWAY, back to Denver, and to beer, which is important. I went to MANY breweries, including:
Mile High Spirits (this one is cheating, it is a distillery)
Falling Rock Taphouse (sort of cheating, but they have an insane beer selection and this is considered to be one of the best taphouses in the country)
Barrels and Bottles
I will not go through every single beer experience I had, because we would be here until hell freezes over, but the highlights for me were:
- Pliny the Elder
The elusive (though apparently not so elusive in Denver and Boulder) and much-celebrated IPA OF THE CENTURY! Or at least of the last 7 years. They had it on tap at Falling Rock Taphouse when I was there, and it was super-excellent and made me very happy.
2. This martini made with a mix of olive-infused vodka and pepperoncini-infused vodka from Mile High Spirits:
They have all sorts of amazing infusions. Although I would like to note there was a huge pickle slice at the bottom of this drink and it was totally vodka-soaked and I took it down in one bite and it was EXTREMELY UNPLEASANT.
3. Wild Woods Sunflower Lager
I don’t really like lagers and I don’t really like sunflower seeds and this was THE MOST AMAZING BEER. Extremely drinkable. Light and flavorful and totally unique.
So yeah, Denver/Boulder/Golden – good beers. More research will be forthcoming.
Onto hiking: I got a few hikes in while I was in the area, although there are probably literally thousands more that I would like to do. In Colorado some people make a habit of climbing “14ers” – 14,000 foot mountains, of which there are 58 in the state. I would LOVE to be one of those people. Next time I’m in town, I’m putting it on the list to climb one. Gotta start somewhere.
The hikes I did while I was there:
This is a very popular and busy trail in Boulder. It is a quick ass-kicking hike to the top of a mountain with great views. Sad to say we didn’t make it all the way up, due to a sudden thunderstorm that decided it was time to shine about 15 minutes from the top. Views were also limited due to said storm, but it was still a lovely hike and a great workout.
Scrambling back down the mountain in the pouring rain was… interesting. Max thought it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He was racing through the rain all giddy like I just told him he won a lifetime supply of rawhide bones. I couldn’t capture a photo because he was moving too fast and also it was essentially a monsoon. But. Here he is afterwards pretending like he didn’t just lose his shit:
First off – it’s not REALLY a mountain. I mean it IS, but it’s very small. And you can drive to the top (I mean I didn’t, but you can). So let’s just get that straight. In fact when I was googling about Genesee Mountain, I discovered “Genesee Mountain is the 3,462 highest ranked peak within Colorado.” So, now you have some perspective.
Regardless, the American Bison trail around Genesee Mountain is beautiful and relatively short and although I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to hike it, my campground was about a mile from the trailhead, so it was totally ideal for me.
Plus you can see the entire downtown area of Denver from the top, which is pretty damn cool.
South Boulder Peak
Suzanne and I climbed South Boulder Peak, which was the winner in terms of difficulty of my 3 hikes. It looks TINY here, but it’s really not. In fact, South Boulder Peak is the 343rd highest peak in the state of Colorado, for a helpful comparison!
It was a round trip 4.5 hour hike, over 6 miles. We climbed the equivalent to 180 flights of stairs (per iphone tracking) and my incredibly sore butt and legs can attest to that. I LOVE a hike that kicks my butt, and this one certainly did.
Beautiful scenery, and a great hiking buddy to chat with. Perfect!
There is a section of the trail that experienced a fire, which allowed for somewhat eerie and less-obstructed views.
And of course views from the top were AWESOME.
Thus concludes my Colorado experience! When I come back to this area in July, I want to spend at least a month here. Maybe two. It’s really a good place.
I am now heading through the middle of the country on my way back to my midwestern homeland! Will be in Chicago June 7-14(ish), Ann Arbor June 15 – 26(ish), and then my family’s cabin in Minnesota from June 27 – July 11(ish). Next couple of weeks will be in Lawrence Kansas, Somewhere in Missouri, and then Joliet Illinois.
Hope everyone is getting excited about summertime, I know I am!!