Interesting that Colorado would be my last stop in "the West". I've been going to Colorado for about 25 years - sometimes several times a year and I love it every time. Last night I stayed in at the Simple Hostel in Salida. Highly recommended. John, the proprietor is very accommodating. Not a traditional hotel.
Salida is a very special town. People are welcoming, culture is amazing for a small town, and the view is, well, great. The town is in a wide valley where the Arkansas stops flowing southward, and turns east. It is situated in a low spot, so to speak, and has an amazing microclimate that defies reason for a town at 7080 ft. Even though it is in the mountains, it is a very moderate climate with a decent growing season for vegetables. Cattle also graze throughout the valley. White water rafting and other adventures sports are big business there as well.
Left Salida early, as I had some work to complete in Denver. This is to the west from the north end of town. Two of those peaks are Antero and Shivano - fourteeners.
The drive to Denver took me through Fairplay - the inspiration for the TV show South Park. Did not stop.
Next stop, Estes Park. Rocky Mountain National Park is one place I go to renew. Over the years, I have been all over the park doing some great hiking.
This picture shows many miles of continental divide - East Slope. To the East, water flows to the Platte then Missouri Rivers. To the West, the Colorado River originates in the Northwest corner of RMNP.
With every visit to this place comes some contemplation. The flat-topped mountain below is called Flattop. I guess there was not someone convenient to name it after. Fourteen years ago, Aaron and I made a trek up Flattop to scatter some of my brother Steve's ashes. Steve charged Dad with dividing his ashes among his friends and charged his friends with leaving them somewhere meaningful to each of them. This was the meaningful spot for me. Our intent was to leave the ashes at the divide such that some may flow East and some West. The usual afternoon lightening arrived way early that day and when it started to crack all around us we said "Hope you like it here Steve!" dumped him just at the bottom edge of the snowfield in the pictures and fled down the mountain. He would have appreciated that. His motto was "Life is not a spectator sport", and indeed it is not - but neither is life a sport that requires tempting fate in mountain lightening. In the spirit of Steve's motto, a couple of years later, Aaron and I traversed the divide over Flattop, visiting Steve on the way over. A long, long hike, but one of those things that make a father and son a father and son.
Next stop is Lincoln, NE. Why? Well, not because it is there, but I will fill you in tomorrow.