I got back Tuesday morning from 10 days in the US. We’d flown in to Chicago for my brother’s business school graduation and then spent 5 days with the family, hiking and driving through the Colorado Rockies.
Aspen is beautiful in the summer. The town is lively, laid back and disarmingly friendly. We ran into plenty of gregarious Texans, there to escape their sweltering summer heat. We had a fantastic seafood meal at Jimmy’s Bodega and ended the night with ice cream from Paradise Bakery.
The Maroon Bells are fairly quiet in mid-June. I visited nearly 10 years ago and fell in love. The trails were just as beautiful as I remembered and very easy, even in going up to Crater Lake.
Once back in Aspen, Niraj and I embarked upon the Ute trail (or the “Glute trail” as I like to call it, since it will kick your ass). The climb is steep and unyielding and we were impressed to see quite a few locals using it for their evening run. It’s all worth it when you get to the panoramic views at the top though. It’s easily amongst the most beautiful summits I’ve seen.
From Aspen, we took the scenic route over to Estes Park, driving 6 hours through winding mountain roads. Independence Pass was slightly warmer on the way back so we hopped out for a more extended frolic through the snow. Seeing the storm clouds in the distance, breaking over the Rockies, added an other worldly feel to an already spectacular view.
We stopped at several other lookouts and drove through historic mining towns like Leadville. The highlight of the drive though, was indisputably Trail Ridge Road. Winding over 45 miles and climbing to heights of 12,000 feet, Trail Ridge alternately feels like a top of the world moutain tour and a safari in the plains. We entered Rocky Mountain National Park an hour before dusk, perfect timing to catch grazing herds of elk and even a black bear.
We stayed at River Stone Resort and Bear Paw suites and we were thrilled to wake up each morning to the sounds of the gushing Fall River. RMNP is one of the best US national parks with over 140 miles of hiking trails. We did a couple of beautiful hikes including the trail up to Mill Lake and the classic Bear Lake.
After more hiking, BBQing and plenty of winter sun, we flew from Denver to Newark and squeezed in a couple more days with family in NJ and of course, Kuku. The trip was wonderful and far too short. As much as I love it here in Sydney, being with my family made me realize how much I miss them and value these trips.