A Wedding & Hike in the Mile High State

Colorado, USA

This September we attended the wedding of my wife’s oldest and closest friends. The location was Evergreen, Co., about an hour from Denver in the foothills of the Rockies. The wedding was a magical affair, set at the Lakehouse on Evergreen Lake. A wonderful occasion in one of the most wonderful settings.

My wife and I having travelled from the UK - a 10 hour flight and 7 time zones - we were treated to the frustration of jet-lag. Early starts and early to bed. However, in this case what would normally be frustration, ended up being appreciation. Appreciation for being up early allowing exploration and the viewing of some magical sunrises. Some of the most beautiful sunrises in the most amazing landscape I have had the pleasure visiting. Yes, the UK has some wonderful scenery, but nothing quite like this. And in London (where I reside), the views are somewhat limited to buildings, which is not quite the same.

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In the 2 days leading up to the wedding we ventured out at 5.30am, before sunrise, to see what we could find. We visited several places; Genesee Park, Three Sisters Park and Lookout Mountain. At each of these locations, which were no more than a 20 minute drive from our hotel, we were treated to spectacular views.

Whilst we were getting up early chasing the sunrise, we were also making sure we were well rested, ready for the wedding a couple of days later. However, on the day of the wedding we slept in as long as we could, making sure we were perky for the 6pm wedding. Needless to say, we had a great time at the wedding and it was wonderful to be part of the happy couples big day.

Now, after the wedding, we were not about to jump straight on a plane back to the UK. No. We took a couple of vacation days and headed further into the Rockies, to Aspen. Our hire car had no idea what was coming - next time, I think we will opt for a more powerful engine… a Yaris didn’t really cut it. We took the i70 West from Evergreen towards Aspen, via Independence Pass. tAt 12,095 ft above sea level, were were on top of the world (see photo below). As we approached the road towards independence pass the scenery really changed from dusty plains to roads lined with copious aspen trees, in their most radiant autumn yellow - a sight to behold, and so darn pretty! An insight into what was to come.

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We only had 1 full day in Aspen, and having taken advice from our friends (the now married couple), we headed for Maroon Bells, home to 2 mountains over 14,000 ft - two of the “fourteeners” of the Rocky Mountains. We got up early as Maroon Bells is well visited, so much so that the road closes at 8am (or earlier if the car parks are full), and we didn't miss getting a parking space (oh, and for the best light). We parked up in the final overflow car park and have a mile trek to the main Maroon Bells area. We spent 45 minutes climbing (and descending) through the autumnal woodland of the mountain landscape. When we emerged from the trees, we were awestruck, neither of us had seen anything so beautiful.

Our trek continued on the Crater Lake trail. We climbed for another hour and a half, for another 1.5 miles. It was slow going given the terrain, altitude and elevation gain. We eventually got to the top. But… there was not lake to be seen. After the height of summer, all the water had evaporated and the bed of the lake was visible (and explorable). Whilst disappointing, this was not really a problem, as having never seen anything like it before, it was the colours of the aspen tree foliage that drew our attention and gaze. Just magical!

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What a trip we had, a wedding, walking and photography in the Mile High State, Colorado. Such a good time in fact, that my wife a Londoner through and through, has asked to explore the potential to relocate to this wonderful state. But there is no doubt that we will be back in Colorado at some point.