Colorado Trip Recap Blog Post!
Only 3 months later and I finally get around to putting together a summary of our Colorado trip - better late than never, right?? We’ve been so busy packing in all the adventures we had to put on hold earlier this year, it’s been tough to find a minute to breath - no complaints here, though! This is what we live for :)
We had the best time over the summer with our friends Amanda, Ryan, and their two pups Finn and Kavick (@thehikinghuskies) on a road trip out to Colorado! We originally planned to head out on Saturday the 4th, but we were too impatient to get there so we said the heck with it and ended up leaving the night before. I’ve driven through the night more times than I can count, and actually prefer it! Less traffic, the dogs get to keep their sleep schedule, and I can crank out podcasts like nobody’s business. Especially with three drivers, we ended up taking shifts every tank of gas and it went super smoothly! The typical hype when we reached the first windmills in Kansas absolutely happened, and we survived on subpar gas station coffee and Sour Patch Kids for the 17 hour drive out there.
Naturally, the first thing we did as soon as we arrived was go hike! No pit stop at the AirBnB, we said screw it and hit the trails straight off I-70. The altitude change never really affected me much last time I was out (it used to knock me out like crazy when I was younger and came out west for ski trips!) but we decided to take it easy after spending so long cramped in the car. We chose a hike super close to Denver that would let us and the kids stretch our legs and get excited about the week ahead!
This hike was the perfect way to start out the trip - easy and not challenging physically, but let us get ourselves warmed up with some beautiful scenery to go along with it :)
We spent day #2 hiking near Winter Park area, and had the best time with our friend Tiler and her dog, Atlas! There was some snow left over still, which sent the girls into absolute hype mode. Ivy LIVES for snow, and she was the happiest girl the entire time.
She would stuff her head into it and roll around, then pop up and get the zoomies while sliding around on the slippery snow bank trying to chase her friends around. All her floof was made for the cold snow.
The hike itself was beautiful, and the dogs were so excited to be back out here - I know in my heart they can tell the difference between our eastern and western adventures, and I like to think they have a favorite between the two!
Day three had us scheduling a double header hike - we started off with one near Buena Vista, CO with our friends Jess and her two dogs, and couldn’t stop smiling the entire time.
These sorts of views are the most special, the ones that just leave you speechless and constantly turning 360 degrees around to keep making sure what your eyes are seeing is truly real and exists right in front of you.
This world is something else, and we are so beyond lucky to be able to explore it - especially with our best friends right next to us! Ivy and Sierra both had a blast climbing around on the rocks around this lake, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect.
We opted to do a sunset hike at St. Mary’s Glacier, a super popular hike close-ish to Denver. As per usual, the dogs were having a great time playing around on the glacier and entertaining each other - we went with a bunch of our friends who live in Denver, and a few of them decided to bring their SUPs and inflatable kayaks to set out into the lake while we explored further up the glacier.
The sun started to set, so we turned to head down before it got too dark. As we were heading down, we kept hearing this pained sort of howling - it sounded exactly like a dog in distress. The area is surrounded by a bunch of cliffs and boulders stacked up, so we figured a dog might have run off and cliffed itself then couldn’t get back down. My first thought was, if it was Ivy I would surely hope someone would have the heart to go look for her and try to help, so we turned back around to see if we could find where the howls were coming from. Amanda’s husband Ryan and I started climbing up, towards where we thought the noise was coming from, while Amanda and Ashley stayed down with the dogs.
We caught sight of where the noise was coming from, and my heart plummeted down into my stomach - it wasn’t a dog up there, it was a mountain lion. A very, very angry mountain lion at that. While it was still a good bit away, it was close enough we could see it pacing on top of the ledge and snarling at us - its howls turned into very cat-like screeches. Needless to say, we BOOKED it the heck out of there as fast as we possibly could. Not something I will ever choose to mess with or take my chances on sticking around! We figured it probably saw the dogs, decided to make prey like noises to try and attract one of them, and then when us humans got into sight it got super mad and decided to pitch a fit because we were in between it and its food/water source down at the lake. That’s the first mountain lion I’ve ever seen, and hopefully the last we ever encounter on the trail!
Trail awareness is no joke, even somewhere that has hundreds of people hiking there weekly and one that I’ve done more than once before already. While my conscience is glad we went back to check on the chance it had actually been a lost dog, I am extra thankful the mountain lion didn’t decide to head down towards us once we came within sight of it!
Day four was much less eventful in terms of wildlife sightings - the most we encountered today were some very sassy marmots! We opted to do a 13er today to warm up for later in the week - our friends Jess and her two dogs joined us as well. The girls had the best time (I know I’ve said this literally every hike but it’s true!) and they handled the almost constant incline like old pros. I swear they could go for miles and miles and never get tired! The wildflowers were starting to pop here too, which made it an extra beautiful hike.
There’s nothing quite like seeing those hillsides dotted with reds and purples and yellows and oranges against a mountain layer backdrop!
We took it pretty easy on day five to give the pups a rest, and decided to go SUP-ing (stand up paddleboarding) at a local reservoir close to Denver with some friends of ours! Ivy and Sierra took to the paddleboards like they had done it a million times - I swear their balance is better than mine is! Sierra even jumped off to try and swim over to Ryan’s paddleboard with both boys on it. They don’t quite share her enthusiasm for invading their personal space, so she was sadly turned away with a broken heart to swim back to mine (LOL).
Today was the biggest hike of our trip, our 14er! We opted to do Mt. Bierstadt, which is a pretty typical “first timers” 14er that’s decently close to Denver. We left earlier to hit the trail before the sun came up, as we wanted to summit and be back down before noon incase afternoon thunderstorms rolled in. This hike was no joke - although it wasn’t super technical (aside from a bit of scrambling at the end), it was a pretty solid incline all the way up with loose rock and dirt that made you really watch where your feet went. Water is key on these sorts of hikes, not only to stay hydrated but also to help with the altitude affect. Almost as important are the s n a c k s!! An absolute must for any hike, snacks save lives and are the most important meal of the day in my opinion!
We summited around 9am and were surrounded by like-minded folks - this is definitely a popular and well-traveled trail! Everyone loved the dogs posing, of course - they’re rockstars in front of the camera and knew they did a good job!
Day seven had us sleeping in and letting the dogs recover from the big hike the day before - although, I swear they bounced back no problem and could probably have done another 3500 ft of elevation gain after a quick power nap! We met up with our friends Tiler and Julie with their dogs, and hiked to Loch Lommond.
I don’t typically mention hike names unless they’re super popular, or I want to include some technical aspects to them, but I feel the need to include this one because of what happened on our way down. We had the best time up at the lake, letting the dogs swim and play and watching the most gorgeous sunset.
But, as we were heading down past some dispersed camping, we ran into a group with two off leash dogs that had zero semblance of control over them. Ours are all off leash trained, and were walking within two feet just ahead of us - didn’t approach their campsite at all (we couldn’t even see them through the trees, just heard them yelling for their dogs).
One of the camping group’s dogs ran up to us and stopped right in front of Ivy for about half a second before immediately lunging at her and latching onto her neck. It was full on attacking her, and didn’t give off any warning before doing so. Ivy is the sweetest girl in the world, and was doing anything she could to try and get away, but it had her pinned and rolling on the ground. All of this happened in mere seconds, I went into full on momma bear mode and started yelling and trying to get close enough to them to grab them. The unknown dog kept rolling around with her on the trail, and finally I got close enough to grab it. It took me kicking and grabbing this dog by the neck to yank it off of her (this was the first time I have EVER kicked at a dog in my life - anyone who knows me knows I never ever put hands on any living being). Thankfully, Ivy’s fur kept her as safe as possible and she had very little visible damage (some bite marks and surface wounds, but nothing requiring stitches thank goodness). I ended up getting bit as well, and the dog put a few punctures deep into my hand.
At this point, you would imagine the owners would have made their way to us by now, after hearing five people screaming and swearing their heads off at their dog, right? Nope. Still out of sight. We finally heard them calling their dog, and at that point I had shoved it back towards their campsite and it was hanging in between us and their site. In hindsight, I should have kept hold of it and leashed it so I could’ve confronted the owners. But, in the moment I didn’t think that clearly. After exchanging a few choice words with them, which I won’t share here, it was clear they were some of the most rude and inconsiderate people I have ever had the misfortune of encountering in my life. They took zero responsibility and gave zero apology. Ivy and I were lucky to get out of that without more injury, and our dogs did NOTHING to entice that fight. Needless to say, if your dog is going to act like that - it needs to be kept on a leash, end of discussion.
It’s unfortunate the perfect night ended like that, but thankfully Ivy is hardy and brushed it off like a champ. I adore how adaptable and easygoing she is - while she didn’t deserve on bit of that, she can recover from it and move on with life being the happy go lucky loving girl she always is!
We took it easy our last day as well - originally we were going to go hike, but my hand was throbbing from the dog bite so I actually decided to go into an urgent care to get it checked out. They cleaned it out, gave me a tetanus shot, and some antibiotics. It didn’t appear to hit any tendons or nerves at the time and thankfully didn’t require stitches - but, it’s still giving me a weird feeling to this day so I do think it nicked something in my hand aside from just muscle tissue. Either way, I’m glad it was me that was bit like this and not Ivy so I will take this any day over her getting hurt!
We spent the day with a bunch of our friends at a reservoir up in the mountains playing around on the SUPs and kayaks, while the dogs got to swim in the lake and enjoy splashing around with each other! I’m so glad Ivy and Sierra can have so many friends and play with each other so well - it makes my heart so happy to watch them have so much fun!
We packed the car up and headed out back to Nashville that night for another overnight driving trip back - while we were so sad to be leaving, our hearts were so full from all the fun and absolute best times we had with our dogs, friends, and the beautiful outdoors this world offers!!