This fall we made our recuring fall migration to the Rocky Mountains and the yellow aspens of Breckenridge. Counting backwards it was our 5th visit to Breckenridge, one of our favorite places, especially in the fall. With its crisp fall mountain air, Breckenridge is our break from the heat of the desert and gives us a much-needed retreat to relax and just chill.
This year’s trip included a diversion to the Omaha area for Jennifer’s cousin’s son’s wedding and a chance to see some extended family we had not seen for quite some time. I mean why not, isn’t Omaha just on the way to Colorado from Arizona 😊. But it really was great to see family and share in their big day. All but one of Jennifer’s cousins were able to make it and it was the first time they had all been together in about 10 years. We also spent the weekend with Jennifer’s sister and brother-in-law. The wedding itself was beautiful and the reception was a great party. Congratulations to Aaron and Maggie and thanks for giving us the opportunity to all see each other again.
Then it was off to Colorado. Across the flat expanse of western Nebraska and along the Platte River, through Denver then up, up, up the mountain, through the tunnel and down into the Summit County valley. On each of our visits we stay at the same RV park, Tiger Run. It is a beautiful resort with plenty of space in the RV spots. It is full of aspen trees, and we love watching them change color. Not to mention it is very convenient to town and hiking. We walked through the park, about 2.5 miles total, each day as we tried to acclimate to the higher altitude and cooler temperatures. Besides the beautiful fall colors, we even saw a fox on a couple of our walks.
This year the weather was not quite as cooperative as it has been in the past. We usually anticipate some rain days, but this year it seemed to rain for the majority of the days. Aside from the minor leak in the motorhome, which we fixed, the rain was not a big issue. It wasn’t all rain though, there were some nice days, and we were sure to take advantage of them. We walked the main street of Breckenridge, stopping in the fun shops and enjoying the restaurants. Most have nice outdoor eating areas with great views of the mountains, and all have a great selection of food and drinks, which we sampled frequently.
The Swan Mountain Road connects the road to Breckenridge with Dillon, CO. It climbs along the south side of Dillion Lake then back down into Dillon. There is a wonderful very short loop trail at the summit which overlooks Frisco, Silverthorne, and the mountains west and north of Frisco. We had a very nice walk on a gorgeous fall day on the Sapphire Point Overlook Loop trail. The trees were really starting to reach their peak, the green of Dillon Lake, and the deep blue skies really was spectacular. From there we dropped down into the valley and headed up past the Keystone Ski Resort and on to Loveland Pass. Highway 6 is the old route over the mountain from Denver down into the valley and passes Arapahoe Basin Ski area on the way up to the 11,990 ft Loveland pass. There is a pretty lake, Pass Lake, near the summit and we had a nice walk around looking at the views. We had been there before as it was one of the places we used to take Maggie for a fun walk. It brought back some wonderful memories of her traveling with us. On our way home, we stopped at one of our favorite breweries, Dillon Dam Beer Brewery for a pint and lunch.
We took a lovely loop drive up to Leadville via Minturn. We had driven this on a previous trip, but in the reverse direction. This time we found a great gravel side road which took us up to a wonderful vantage point of an old mining area and railroad. The leaves were not quite at peak color yet, but they were getting closer. We stopped for a picnic lunch near Camp Hale. This was an old WWII mountain rangers training camp and now is a national historic site. Then up through Tennessee pass and down into Leadville. Leadville has really changed in the years since we first started coming here. Lots more development and traffic. We had originally intended to go up to the Twin Lakes area on the way to Independence Pass but decided with the traffic we would save it for another trip.
This year we decided we wanted to do some hiking in the area. We found a couple hikes that looked fun and set off on the first of them. The Burro Trail departs from one of the ski resorts and climbs up along a ridge with overlooks of the valley south of Breckenridge. It starts at about 9700’ and climes up along a creek to about 10640’ over about 3 miles. An easy climb. We brought our gear and got along great. Found a nice little area at the top for a snack and headed back down. Jennifer read of a place for great Bloody Mary’s so we celebrated our efforts overlooking the mountain we had just been up.
Our usual routine after a day of hiking is to take a down day, especially if it is the weekend, and this was no exception. We had planned a down day for Sunday after our hike to have a big breakfast, hang out, read, watch some football, and relax. Only this down day was different then all the rest. Both of us woke up tired, sore, short of breath and not very hungry. We both had nagging headaches and were just basically lethargic. All symptoms that seemed very familiar to me from my trip to Yosemite in June. We determined both of us had been affected by the altitude of our hike the previous day and were suffering from a little AMS (Acute Mountain Syndrome). Unlike Altitude Sickness, it is not dangerous and is easily cured over time and descending below 8000’. Since descending was not much of an option we just rested up and took it easy. When we did head home a couple days later, it was like a miracle cure once we descended from the tunnel on 1-70 and got below 8000’.
Our drive home was pretty uneventful. We did spend the night just north of Albuquerque the day before the annual balloon festival started. We did not see any balloons the next morning on our drive through, but that event is definitely on our bucket list. Despite the weather being wetter than our previous visits and the little bout of AMS, we really did have another wonderful time in Breck and can’t wait for our next visit.