Wedding Bells and Mountain Gawking in Colorado
Like the name of this one? Yeah. Me too.
I flew out to Colorado for the pseudo-destination wedding of one of my best friends. If not for the wedding in question I probably wouldn't have spent the money to go to Colorado seeing as I don't know anyone who lives there. Well, now I DO know people and I did get the chance to see Denver and the area so I'm crazy happy it worked out the way it did.
The wedding itself was emotional, intimate and stupid fun (so fun that I forgot to take photos throughout the event)!
I did take some snaps right before...
HOWEVER, other than being a part of a truly magical wedding, I was giddy about renting a car with my plus one (AKA yet another bestie from abroad) and driving up to the Rocky Mountains National Park. You can't come to Colorado and not hike up some mountains, right?!
We rented a really great ride (Volkswagen Tiguan) using Turo (it's like Airbnb for cars, you should really try it out), a car I could never afford to buy, obviously, and headed north from Denver to the Rockies. Let me start out with the fact that Estes Park, where the welcome centers of the park are at, was showing 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) on my iPhone weather app.
That was the moment when I turned to my friend and told her to LAYER THE F*CK UP. So we did. It was all about the sneakers, sweaters, coats and hoping it would be enough (spoiler alert: it was enough because the sun was out and God is good).
Side note: did you know that Colorado gets snow in May and June too? Well, I didn't. FML.
Now to the whole point of the post. The whole trip to Colorado was a borderline spiritual experience for me. The wedding was emotional to the point of prayer and going up to the Rockies was profoundly humbling and jaw-dropping at the same time.
We got to Estes Park and went into the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center to get a map and hear an adorably dressed park ranger tell us what hikes to do based on the weather conditions at the time. We ended up going to Bear Lake, Many Parks Curve, and in a last minute opening of the road, got to go up to Rainbow Curve to get some seriously gnarly views. We would have gone further up Trail Ridge Road but it was still closed for the winter season.
Nothing makes you feel smaller and more in touch with Mother Nature than a mountain range such as this one. Every turn I took, every direction I looked in, I couldn't stop saying 'wow' or 'holy sh*t' (I really should work on my trucker mouth). The mountains were snow-capped, the ground was a mix of snow, slush and dirt and *every bit of it was stunning*.
Bear Lake, our first stop, was the snow paradise I had always imagined I would be surrounded by in the middle of January (not so much in May but hey, beggars can't be choosers). The lake was frozen, the trees were dark green and all around us was fresh powder and mountains. The photos I took don't do the place justice, that's for damn sure.
The lake was a mile-long circular hike, after all, we weren't really dressed for the occasion and almost ate some snow and fell on our asses several times. We walked around the lake, took some pictures, looked up every few steps from the frozen ground that was sure to be our demise in order to take several deep breaths and just try our best to be 'in the moment' as much as possible.
After Bear Lake we drove up to Many Parks Curve, which is essentially an overlook at several mountain peaks at a high elevation (9,640 to be precise).
IT WAS FREEZING.
We walked over to the overlook, took an even bigger breath as it was harder to breath up there, and just looked around at the raw beauty surrounding us. It's hard to put into words what we saw, and like I said, photos don't do it justice, but I tried anyway (the photos here were taken with my iPhone 7 Plus which I was pleasantly impressed with).
Then, the cherry on top of a very big day - the opening of part of Trail Ridge Road leading up to Rainbow Curve.
You know how I said it was freezing on Many Parks Curve? Well, it was nothing compared to how we felt on Rainbow Curve. When we stepped out of the car we were greeted by flurries and wind gusts that made it even harder to breath.
Man, was it worth it!
The views from Rainbow Curve were quite literally breathtaking thanks to the wind. I stood there looking out, taking photos from time to time (I even recorded a video!) but more than anything I was just looking out at this massive expanse of land in front of me, feeling amazed and elated.