I’ve never been what you’d call super “athletic”.
Sure, I run 4+ miles several times a week, and can bust out some modified pushups with the best of ‘em, but if my short, 1 year softball career as a 10 year old which ended with me barfing up mambas outside of the dugout after striking out for the nth time, or my awesome ability to just hang from the pull up bar in gym class tells you anything, my calling is more in the kitchen than the athletic field.
That said, one of the things I really wanted to do on this trip to Colorado was go on an epic mountain hike. Like, not a sweet, wood chip-lined path hike, but a boulder dodging, altitude climbing, waterfall spotting HIKE.
So we did.
Thursday morning Ben and I got up bright and early, and headed back to Boulder Canyon Boulevard. We drove through the town of Nederland, then Eldora (population: 250 – seriously remote, log-cabin, mountain “town”!) until the paved road stopped, and the dirt road began.
4 miles and 40 minutes of rocks, dirt, and OMG DOES THIS ROAD EVER END later, we arrived at the 4th of July Trailhead, where we were to start our hike! At this point I was nervous. Nervous, nervous. I had no idea what to expect as far a what the trail would be like, and how hard it was going to be.
Once I saw the sign that showed the Diamond Lake trail we were going to take was 2 miles each way though, I thought, psssht, I totally got this!
And so we started our ascent into the mountains!
I quickly came to find that the 2 mile hike to Diamond Lake on the top of a mountain was going to be anything but a walk in the park.
The path went from wide to narrow, and back. Smooth, to rocky, then wet.
It was an ADVENTURE!
And the views just killed me. Here’s a gorgeous waterfall that we could hear from an entire mountain over.
And here’s a picture to show you how high we were! Can you spot the cars parked below?
Ben actually hiked this trail with my Dad and brother last summer, and camped out at a spot dubbed “Epic Spot” a short distance away from this wily tree about halfway into the hike that he wanted to show me.
Just after passing it, we veered off onto a barely recognizable path, which opened up into a big clearing about 10 minutes later. It’s crazy that there was snow all over this area when they were here at the same time last summer!
We were only there a few minutes when a local and his dogs emerged from the same unbeaten path. He owns 80 acres of land just outside the trailhead and was quite surprised to see us there. Apparently not many people know about this place!
The area used to be a miners camp way back when, and after exchanging pleasantries we sat next to this abandoned log shack and fueled up for the rest of the hike.
Cliff Bars seemed appropriate.
A few more breathtaking views later, we got back on the main trail and continued on towards our final destination – Diamond Lake.
The second part of the hike was a bit more challenging, as the last half mile or so is pretty vertical.
We passed other hikers coming down though who encouraged us to keep going, and that the lake was worth the hike, so we pressed on.
After clearing the forest, we emerged into a gorgeous field of wild flowers. Just beyond it was…
A crystal clear, ice-cold lake with fish jumping in and out of the water, surrounded by trees at the top of a mountain. (Click the picture to see a panoramic!)
I sort of felt like I was in a Disney movie!
The nearly 2 hour hike was completely worth it, so we stayed awhile to rest and snack on some Mango Nectarines while taking in the view.
Then it was time to turn around and go back!
I actually think I prefer climbing UP, rather than coming down. It’s a lot more slippy, and you really have to watch where you are going.
By the end we were practically kissing our car in the parking lot, but could not have been more happy with how the hike went. I sort of felt very accomplished about completing my first ever legit mountain hike!
Or more hungry.
40 minutes down the crazy dirt road that had taken us to the trailhead, and back through the barely a blip on the radar town of Eldora, we arrived in Nederland and headed straight to Backcountry Pizza where I devoured 2 massive slices of some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.
Exhausted and slightly deranged looking, but happy!!
Yesterday we drove down to Breckenridge where we’re staying the weekend for a friend’s wedding. If the carb bar at last night’s rehearsal dinner is any indication – it’s going to be a good one!
Have a great weekend, everyone!