Frishmuths - Spring Colorado 2018

So last month, in early May my wife and I took a trip out to Colorado on a bit of a spur of the moment vacation. The idea had originally stemmed from a desire to see a band we like (Stick Figure) in concert at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater, and we decided we’d build a mini-trip around that. Since Kai was still in school, he would have to miss out on this trip.

We non-revved into Denver, rented a Jeep and headed west. Our destination was the high mountain town of Grand Lake, Colorado on the western border of Rocky Mountains National Park.

Stopping for lunch and a beverage on our drive…buffalo burgers!

Passing through Granby, we made a pit stop for supplies. I told the cashier this should might get us through the weekend (!)…

Rolling in to the no-stop-light town of Grand Lake - which in early May is stuck between seasons. Skiing and snowmobiling is pretty much wrapped up for the year, but the summer warmth hasn’t hit and school isn’t out. So the town is basically catching its breathe between switching gears…

Our favorite spot in town - Grumpy’s Saloon has great beer, and the most amazing pizza we have ever had. Seriously. It was that good. Something, something dusted crust, something something fresh veggies after cooking.

We stayed at a tiny rustic cabin called the Lemon Lodge right on the banks of Grand Lake and the North Inlet river…

Soon after arrival - it started to snow!

We unwound for the first night then got up early the following morning, ate a nice breakfast, and hit the East Inlet Trail into Rocky Mountain National Park. The trail follows the river east and climbs steadily in elevation. You can hike deep into RMNP via this trail and traverse the entire park, or hook up with other trails and make it a loop if you are looking for an extended backpacking/camping trip. Given the late season snows, we were just looking to day hike segments…

I had brought a fly rod…and had a guest license, but I never broke it out. I was more interested in scenery and hiking. The mountains are just so incredibly beautiful and raw out west…

A couple of times on the hike we came across grouse…

Apparently RMNP is suffering from an infestation of a type of beetle that is killing large swaths of the forest. The amount of downed wood is simply stunning and I’m sure the fire management people shudder at the thought of this all eventually going alight…

Climbing ever higher the trail has some nice views and sheer drops…

Through an Aspen grove…

One switchback is called the Cat’s Lair - easy to imagine a mountain lion lurking here…

Temperatures hovered in the low 40s most of the day with an occasional drizzle of rain, but overall the conditions were fine since we were dressed for the conditions. Here some graupel started to pelt us as we climbed up to the 10,000’ mark…

As we climbed higher on the trail, the canyon narrows, shading more and more of the trail near the river. As a result, the snow and ice haven’t melted out and eventually we hit conditions that allowed us to go no higher. We backed down the trail a couple hundred meters and broke out our picnic lunch on a flat area next to the river…

It was a wonderful hike up the East Inlet and we made it back down to the town in the mid-afternoon. A late afternoon dinner of burritos, chips, and salsa (and margaritas) ensued as we enjoyed the warmth of the cabin…

The following day, we headed up the North Inlet trail under much different conditions. We would eventually top out on this trail near the red arrow after encountering snow too deep to continue…

As we left the house in the morning, the snow was coming down hard and what had been green and brown the previous day had turned into a winter wonderland…

Heading up the North Inlet trail…

The North Inlet is similar to the East Inlet trail in that it contours along the river (a different fork though) for much of the lower portion…

Snow continued to accumulate on the way up the trail…

After crossing the foot bridge, we spotted some objects moving through the meadow to our right…

As we watched the moose in the field, I was startled to see another coming from the woods to our left…moving through the trees and keeping an eye on us. They are immense. I’m 6’ 2" and they tower over me!

After a bit of watching, we continued heading up the trail…

The snow continued to fall…getting deeper from accumulation and also because of the same narrowing of the valley that put the trail in shadow, so less snow had been melting out in prior weeks…

We kept heading up and hit an upper meadow a few miles in where the snow got too deep to continue as we started postholing up to our hips. With streams running below and thawing lakes, we decided this was where we’d turn around…

Stopping under an overhang for lunch on the way back down…

Back down on the river…

Interesting paths carved by wood boring somethings on the fallen logs…

As we rounded a bend on the way down…a moose was standing about about 10 meters to my right just chomping away on some small pine saplings…not totally sure on the protocol, we backed up slightly and sat down on some logs to watch for ten or fifteen minutes while he made his way slowly across the trail, stopping to eat here and there. It was really cool…

Smart husband keeps wife between him and the 7’ tall beast…

After a bit, he moved on, and we continued down the trail coming across several more moose on the return trip. By now the snow had stopped falling and we heard the occasional rumble of THUNDER SNOW as the temps started to climb into the upper 30s…

Lots of birds on the lower portion of the trail…

Another great hike in some cool conditions. We dropped by the Ranger Station at the entrance to RMNP, which was pretty quiet because the road crossing the park was closed for a few more weeks. One of the rangers pointed out a visitor sleeping against the side of the visitor center…

Later that evening we walked from our cabin to town for another pizza. The town is so quiet and peaceful at this time of year. I imagine the summer hustle and bustle is quite different…

The next morning, I was having coffee and watching moose walk by the front of the cabin…

The mountains lording over Grand Lake - that is the valley we hiked up on the first day (East Inlet)…

We packed up our gear and headed out of Grand Lake down toward I-70 and Idaho Springs. The mountains had picked up quite a bit of snow since our drive up from Denver and the last of the winter madness was occurring as people from Denver were streaming up to snowmobile, snowshoe, and ski the last runs of the season with the late snowstorm.

Just north of Idaho Springs is the high mountain village of St. Mary’s and the St. Mary’s glacier. We headed to a gorgeous bed and breakfast called the Silver Lake Lodge at 10,500’…

The view from our balcony…we actually saw a small avalanche occur was we were watching the slopes…

Watching this guy traverse above the fracture line was giving me anxiety…

Avalanche…

That same night we were driving down to the outskirts of Denver to catch the concert at Red Rocks. We stopped in Idaho Springs for a great early dinner before hitting the parking lot at Red Rocks…

Sipping some wine in the tailgate lot…

Word to the wise - when you park in the lower lots…be ready for a “hike” up to the amphitheater…!

Red Rocks is quite simply the most beautiful concert venue I’ve ever been to. The opening act was awesome…the atmosphere is awesome…the people are super chill (I wonder why?) and the whole place is just as cool as you could imagine…

For the following images - you should really be listening to this in another window: https://youtu.be/KRReAXkKlv8?t=4m46s

Opening act…

Denver skyline in the distance…

Then Stick Figure hit the stage and they were so good and sounded so good…and yes, all that smoke is from the weed everyone was smoking. I was praying the second hand smoke wouldn’t trigger a positive drug test the following week… :sweat_smile:

The headliner was Twiddle - and they were good…but we had come all that way to see Stick Figure…so we ended up bailing about halfway through Twiddle’s set…

After an awesome concert, it was back up to St. Mary’s and the Silver Lake Lodge where we caught some sleep. The next morning, the owners cooked up an incredible breakfast that we would need for fuel for our hike. We headed east out of the lodge and grabbed some ORV trails that headed up high into the rim of the bowl above the lodge…

Just a hundred meters up the trail we had to don our snowshoes for a short period until we broke out of the treeline onto the ORV trails…

We slogged higher and higher. Marisa started to get a bit of a headache, but I think it settled down a bit after a while…

At the top of Yankee Hill…11,237’…

I love my P900 Nikon P900…these three images show the various zoom levels available…it is pretty insane…

Zooming in on that mountain…

On the way back down, we branched off the OHV trail and picked up a narrow trail that required snowshoes. It was quite the trek and we were wondering if we had bitten off more than we could handle…but it worked out and was a beautiful hike…

The snow ranged from inches deep to seven or eight feet in drifted areas…

Done and exhausted…used muscles we didn’t know we had!

Chilling at the lodge afterward…

We had a delicious dinner that night prepared by the owners of the B&B. Bacon wrapped filet and all manner of other treats. It was so great - I highly recommend them:

http://thesilverlakelodge.com/

We flew home the following day and really had a great getaway. Thanks to my Mom and Aunt for watching our little guy…!

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What a gorgeous trip! Really makes me feel like visiting the rocky’s one day!

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Stunning photos and that looks like a FANTASTIC trip. I’ve been to the PNW a few times for some hiking and each time I was blown away by the beauty of the place.

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Very nice!
Love the pics.
I’d like a vacation like that too…

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Really cool photos, as usual. I was thinking of going to see Big Head Todd & the Monsters at Red Rocks, but didn’t go. Maybe one day.

I have to be honest, I think Beach should adopt the moose head as his new avatar. Anybody else?

beach

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Livin’ large there Mr. AV8R!

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Love your trip pics Beach!

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Or as part of his last name?

Chris Frish-moose!
:laughing: - HA WHAT A GUY; AMIRITE?

*crickets chirping *

:persevere:

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Absolutely beautiful pics! Was wondering about those hiking sticks/poles your wife was using. I do a lot of hiking myself and have seen more people using these. Was told they really help with balance and pressure on knees etc. and that I should get some. What is your feeling on those poles?

I’ve been using trekking poles for probably 15 years now. They definitely help for balancing when crossing slippery rocks and streams, and in the Fall they help when hiking on slippery leaves. I believe they take a bit of the pounding off the knees, particularly when descending…but I don’t have any definitive evidence of that. But I don’t have any knee problems so far from hiking…so maybe they are doing something good.

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Seems you had a lot of fun up there!

About the Moose: I have met some in Norway, and even though those are a bit smaller than the North American ones, they are huge.
If you only know them from pictures you might think they are just the size of a red deer or something, but they are way larger.
The biggest ones can have a height of more than 7.5ft actually and the weight of over 1700lbs.

Yes. It is hard to tell from the photos because even the small trees that they are near don’t really give the proper perspective of size. Like I said, I’m 6’ 2" and the one we were closest too was probably a foot taller than me. I have no idea if moose are like deer and can go sorta nutso when they are in heat…but I sure wouldn’t want that 1000 lb thing trampling all over me. None of the ones we saw had any antler racks on them…so it must have been the time of year after they dropped them.

Moose can be dangerous at certain times, yes.
They know they are big and if they feel threatened and don’t see a good way out they can attack you.

If you search for moose attack on YouTube you will find some scary stuff.