We took a mini vacation this week. It was our first real vacation in five years, longer if you don't count the 3 days we spent at an Alabama resort back in 2006. We never even got to take a proper honeymoon. When the opportunity to get away for a few days was presented to us, we went around in circles trying to figure out what we should do. I wanted a nice relaxing time at the beach, feet in the sand, drinks in my hand, maybe a massage.... He wanted to go camping. We eventually met in the middle and settled on Vail Mountain in Colorado. There was plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, but we would be able to stay at a freaking sweet hotel (thank you, offseason discounts!).
We had quite a lineup planned - we flew out on Saturday, picked up our rental car (we got a Beetle!) and headed for the mountains.
First glimpse of the mountains!
Absolutely amazing to see them right in front of us.
We got checked in at the hotel and then spent the evening wandering around Vail Village and Lionsgate. They're both walking- and biking-only towns, connected by a walking/biking path that runs along a whitewater creek. We probably covered a good four miles that evening.
Enjoying the local cuisine
Doesn't it look like Hogsmeade?
We got up bright and early the next morning to go hiking in the mountains. We had a plan of making it to Booth Lake, which is a lake set in the bowl between two peaks.
We had to sign in before entering the trail. I thought it was like a guest book, but then C pointed out that it's so that they know who's out there in case you don't come back. Super reassuring.
We're going up there!
What do you mean, "Just walk across the logs?!"
We made it to the first landmark, Booth Falls, without any problems.
When we started to continue up to the Lake, we were thwarted by snow and ice and bad shoes. Vail got more than 160% of their usual snowfall, and the hiking trails were still covered in snow.
70 degrees and... SNOWY?!
To make matters worse, the path to the lake took you across a boulder field that ran right by a whitewater river that fed into the waterfall. I don't have proper hiking shoes, and neither of us were wearing ice picks on our shoes, so we decided to turn back. If either one of us had fallen into the river we would have been in serious trouble.
The ice covering a boulder field - this is what thwarted our effort to see Booth Lake.
Charlie was rather disappointed that we had to turn back, but that just means we'll have to try again some day.
The next day we were up even earlier for our rafting trip. On our walk the night before, I noticed that Gore Creek was overflowing its banks and moving pretty freaking fast, so I was a little apprehensive.
Gore Creek, in Vail Village
My anxiety was heightened when we got a call saying that our original rafting trip was cancelled due to high water and dangerous rapids - they were bumping us over from our Class IV to a Class III route down the Arkansas River, called Brown Canyon.
The raft that carried us down the river.
I don't have a waterproof camera, so I stole this shot of Brown Canyon from the interwebs - we had more water, but the rocks were still there.
All of my stress was for nothing, though, because rafting turned out to be super freaking awesome. Our guide was amazing, and shouted out perfect instructions to us as we maneuvered around whirlpools, waves, and giant rocks. We all stayed in the raft, which was good, because the river was icy. It was bad enough getting the spray from the waves, I can't imagine how awful it would have been to go for an involuntary swim. I wish we had planned far enough in advance that we could have taken an overnight rafting trip. I also wish that we had a camera out there with us. I can't wait to do it again! (we won't talk about the bruises on my palms from gripping the paddles for dear life)
The next day, we decided to ride the gondola to the top of Eagle Peak at the height of Vail Mountain. The views from up top were just breathtaking (literally, it was over 11,000 feet).
I had been itching to get out for a run since we arrived, but the daily activity levels left me wanting to do nothing more than sit in the hot tub every evening. I decided that I might as well just go ahead and do it, just to say that I did, so I ran a mile along the mountain ridge. I'm sure it took forever, and by the end of it I was completely whipped.
We decided to come back later in the day and do some downhill mountain biking.
On our way up the mountain!
Part of the bike trail
All was going well, although I was scared shitless - I, apparently, do not have the need for speed. Then, about a mile into the second 6 mile run, I swerved to avoid a giant rock, my tire slid in the loose dirt and gravel, and I felt myself being thrown from the bike and sliding across the dirt. I could honestly feel the pebbles cutting into my skin. I knew it was going to be bad, and I was afraid to get up. I was afraid that I had broken something. Luckily, I was able to pull myself up and get back on the bike, bruised and battered and much worse for the wear. Unfortunately, I had to get back on the bike and get myself down the mountain. That sucked.
Back on the bike after the fall
Before I cleaned up the mess
Giant knot on my knee. There's one on the other, to match.
It actually looks worse now that the dirt has all been washed off. My left arm is a total mess. I'll spare you the ickiness.
Recovering after the fall
I'd totally do it again.