Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Golden, CO - Five Days of Fun

Since we weren't able to really tour the Golden area the last time we were here, we decided to camp here again while we waited for my doctor's appointment. Eventhough we've been busy these last five days, I feel we've only skimmed the surface of what's available so we've extended our stay and will now be here til Saturday.

This area around Denver is just loaded with parks. There are county parks (Jefferson County Open Spaces), there are Denver Mountain Parks, State Parks, and probably other "types" I haven't located yet.

Hanging Around Town - Saturday was a day NOT to be driving. (After 600 miles in 2 days, we needed a break)We biked the bike path and went south. From here we were able to go into one of the many JeffCo Open Spaces. Apex Trail is a multi-use trail and supposedly popular with mountain bikers. But that doesn't necessarily mean it would be easy. We gave up after about 15 minutes of trying to pedal up a steep hill with lots of rocks and steps. It's not much fun when you have to carry your bike instead of ride it. So we went back into town and rode on the bike path for several more miles, just enjoying being outside on such a beautiful day!

We also walked along the creek watching the kayakers; we played a game of tennis in the city park next door to the campground; and we walked into town for a nice dinner out.

Mt Galbraith Park (Jeffco Open Space) and Golden Gate Canyon State Park
On Sunday we went hiking and sight-seeing up Golden Gate Canyon Road. Mt Galbraith is just outside of town and offered a 4.2 mile hike up a mountain with views of Golden, Denver and when you looped to the west side of the mountain, views of the snow-covered Continental Divide. From there I wanted to take Andy up to Golden Gate Canyon State Park. I went here before and wanted to share it with him. The views from Panorama Point were even more breathtaking since it was sunny and there was more snow on the line of peaks. We did a short hike, but many trails were closed due to fire mitigation.

Matthews/Winters Park (another JeffCo Open Space, just minutes from our campground)
On Monday we hiked here for about 6 miles by connecting several trails to do a loop hike. We started out on the Dakota Ridge Trail, which ran along the top of a rocky ridge called a "hogback". It was about a 1,000' elevation change up and down. It offered nice views of the park and Red Rocks and east towards Golden and Denver. The ridgeline was pretty narrow in areas with steep slopes off of either side of the trail. This is also a multi-use trail, and just as we were commenting that we would probably die trying to bike it, a biker rode past us. I guess it's all what you're used to, right? Well, later in the day we spoke with a local biker who fell riding Dakota Ridge and broke his arm and thumb. At least he acknowledged it's a difficult ride and death is a risk. We felt better. But we enjoyed hiking it with trees filled with songbirds and magpies entertaining us as we walked.

Back down in the valley we connected with the Red Rocks Trail which took us up close to, obviously, red sandstone rocks which appear to be jutting out of the ground at a slant. These towering, smooth rocks are actually a colorful blend of reds, pinks, and purples with streaks of white or black. Set against the tan grasses and green evergreens they were even more striking.

This park is also the location for the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. The CCC built this outdoor concert hall in the 1940's. The benches are carved into the stone and the seating and stage are built between two huge red rocks. From your seat, you can look over the stage and out to Denver and the plains. It would be a unique place to see a concert.

Waterton Canyon
Tuesday we biked Waterton Canyon. This trail was recommended to us by the biker we met yesterday in Red Rocks. Once he heard we were from Florida, he recommended the flatest trail he could think of! Ha! It was a great, easy trail. Relatively flat and the gravel was so packed it could've been paved. The trail is also an access road for the company that maintains the three dams on this section of the South Platte River. It followed the river through this pretty canyon with gold and red trees bordering the river. The rock cliffs were almost as colorful as the trees. The trail was active with hikers, runners, bikers, and fishermen with their hip-waders on dotted the river. We read that there was a herd of 20-35 bighorns in the canyon. The first one we saw was high up on the cliff, but he had a full curl of horns. We continued past the end of the Waterton trail and rode a little ways up the Colorado Trail. If you followed the Colorado Trail you could make it to Durango in only 470 miles. Wanna try? It was on the ride back down through Waterton Canyon that we realized we had biked up a slope on the way in. Our ride back was an easy coast. As we were coasting, we went from sunny spots into shady spots so our eyes had a hard time adjusting. Which explains why Andy almost rode into the second bighorn we saw. I had to holler a warning to Andy because he was easily within 6 feet of the sheep and still had not seen the animal grazing on the edge of the road. Gorgeous! Almost a full curl, amber eyes, white nose and butt. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that these are wild animals that could seriously hurt you if they wanted. Otherwise, I'd probably find myself walking up to it and giving it a big kiss! But if you ever have the opportunity to pick up a ram's horn and feel how heavy it is, it'll give you a good idea of what kind of damage it could do.

Errand Day
Today was errand day, so we didn't mind that it rained all day long. We went to my doctor's appointment and I got the clearance to leave the area. Since we were forced to stay in the area for so long, we had come up with some metaphors for how "trapped" we felt at times. "We were stuck in a holding pattern, just circling and circling the airport." "We were on parole, and not allowed to leave the state." And so on. But Dr. Raj felt everything was healing on schedule and we are free to leave! All in all, I'm happy with the decision we made because I found such a nice doctor. He and Longmont Hospital have restored my faith in the medical field.

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