October 15, 2019
The mountains have held a special place in my heart since I first remember visiting as a teenager. I lived there for about a year with the other half of my heart feeling empty because my entire family lives in Texas. So now my heart is mostly full. Living in Texas with my family and searching for beautiful spots where I’m currently planted. Taking a trip to Colorado every year or two… with dreams of living there once we figure out lives out, ha!
It’s funny when we go how many people we meet that are either visiting from Texas or were from Texas originally and have moved to Colorado. There’s something about Texans and Colorado! We tend to travel to Colorado in the winter just because there’s a lack of snow and fun things to do here during Houston’s “winter.” We love to ski. Fun fact, I went skiing while I was pregnant with both boys!
I forget how awesome it can be the rest of the year. Daniel and I just got back from a kid-free trip during PEAK fall foliage colors and it was amazing. It was nice to be able to hike when we wanted, how long we wanted, and without an extra 50lbs of weight!
We left our house just after bedtime and arrived at the Denver airport a little before midnight. Daniel rented a large suburban and packed our camping mats so we could sleep in the back of the truck that first night, wake-up to watch the sun come up on an alpine lake, Loch Lomond to be exact. Well, to get to the trailhead at Loch Lomond, you have to have a 4×4 Jeep or ATV…. halfway there, we thought, we’ll be fine, this Tahoe can make it. The rocks got bigger and the road got more and more narrow. About 10 minutes and 0.1 miles later, we said, this is going to take all night (it was already 2am) and we still have 1.5 miles to go. I want to be clear, that I did not virtually scout this myself, I was trusting my husband’s scouting abilities… I originally wanted to go to Mount Evans, but we’ll get to that later.
We decided to stop in a wider clearing in the narrow rocky road to get some sleep. The stars were scattered like someone had thrown glitter across a black blanket. Daniel packed for 75 degree weather. I had a bunch of jackets but only got one out, thinking we could cuddle and be warm enough. Nope. After about 2 hours of “sleep” we both freezing, and one of our mats half deflated, we gave up and decided to make the trek down and maybe find a motel or try sleeping in the car again. We made it down. To i-70 and had to decide which way. Daniel pulled up the maps and said he thought we could make it in time for sunrise if we went ahead to Mount Evans. So off we went.
I don’t have any pictures to share of that road, unfortunately, I think that says a great deal about the amount of stress it caused, haha!!
We made it to Mount Evans around 5am. We thought about trying to nap but I was too excited for my first alpine glow experience! I tried getting some star shots, learned a lot, froze my fingers trying, nothing good enough to share though. Since then I’ve learned a few things and am excited to try it out at Enchanted Rock here in Texas… Where it’s warm! Wearing all the pants I brought (4 pairs) and two long sleeves, a fleece-lined plaid shirt, another jacket, a windbreaker, a fuzzy head warmer, and some fingerless gloves… I was still cold. Can you tell I’m born & raised from Texas? I always remember Colorado’s cold being so (amazingly) different, because of the dry air, but it’s still cold with no sun and that windchill thoooooough. Did not plan for that in my packing.
I walked around in the dark as the night sky ever so slightly got lighter. We began to see the outline on the mountains better and better, could see the lake now, and the park’s restrooms. Hopping in and out of the car for the next half hour or so, until the orange started creeping up over the horizon. I didn’t realize how high up we were until we walked towards the road and could see the SEA of clouds! It was so amazing. Felt like a dream, a cold and windy dream, ha!
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with the alpine glow. I’d seen pictures but wasn’t sure what it looked like in real life. I thought it was happening, and felt kind of disappointed, we packed up to leave and admired the sun coming up over the clouds. I looked back at the mountains and my heart literally skipped a beat, I told Daniel to head back so we could catch it! The sun hat come up over the clouds and over the ridge to shine this absolutely stunning orange light on the mountain tops. I ran so fast up the little trail to get the best angle possible. Feeling like my lens wasn’t wide enough to truly capture it, I stopped trying and just admired. I turned around to face the sun and snapped the most serene & happiest little selfie I’ve ever taken.
Once the entire mountain was painted pink I took one last look around and headed back to the car. We drove down the windy mountain top road, with a sea of clouds still below us, and grins on our face so big. What an amazing experience. I’m not a morning person, like at all, but I’d do that again and again.
AND THEN, we saw a herd of mountain goats and we were both freaking out about it! So awesome. If they weren’t in the middle of the road we would have not even noticed them, so amazingly camouflaged! As we continued down the clouds began to clear a bit. We never drove through clouds, though that would have been even more insane!! We made it down and headed to our hotel in Avon, stopping for breakfast in Silverthorne, CO.
I was surprised and so relieved that the hotel let us check in at 10am. We got to the room, threw our bags down, and immediately passed out until 2pm. Got up to get lunch and walk around a little bit before our couples massage Dan surprised me with 🙂 Afterwards we went into town and had pizza at this amazing pub, it had jalapenos, pepperoni, and CILANTRO! I’m honestly surprised I haven’t had, seen, or heard of cilantro on a pizza, especially living in Texas, c’mon! It was so dang good. Going to have to remember that!
We got back to the room and made plans to hike up to Beaver Lake the next morning before meeting up with Daniel’s brother and his family. In the morning we packed our things and grabbed a quick breakfast on the way out. We somehow got off track looking for the trailhead, and ended up on a ski area service road.
We found a way to cross the river to get to the trail we were supposed to be on… that was yet another adventure. It looked easy enough, but the rocks were so slippery. Daniel recorded me trying and it’s pretty comedic. He came down to try it out and effortlessly leaped across like a graceful rabbit and my jaw fell to the floor. I was down there for about 5 minutes trying to find a way across. So funny. I gave him my backpack and leaped across… like a graceful rabbit 🙂
The hike up was pretty difficult for us Texans. The altitude is no joke, we never got any altitude sickness, just easily winded. Making the hike up feel longer and more difficult. We stopped to take pictures and admire the scenery. About an hour and a half it took us to make the 1.75 mile hike up to Beaver Lake. We got so excited when we realized the trail leveled out and we could see the water between the trees.
We held hands and stepped into a clearing between the pines. It was so amazingly beautiful. The wind picked up, I put on my sweater and we sat and enjoyed our snacks with a view. It was really hard to believe that this trail and lake was at the Beaver Creek Ski Resort. Most of it felt so secluded.
We balanced on a fallen tree to cross a part of the lake that lead to the creek, to get a different view. A chipmunk came out of nowhere and was running around Daniel’s shoes, we gave her/him half an almond and s/he ran off. So cute and surprising how close s/he came to us! We started back and made it down, unsurprisingly, much quicker. By then Daniel’s brother and his family were at the hotel so we planned to meet up with them along our hike to check out some spots for them to explore with their daughter, and for me to take pictures of them. Obviously, I roped them into doing an eloping with kids shoot! See a couple teasers below and be on the look out for another post with the images from that amazing shoot!!
The last day we went to Rocky Mountain National Park to meet up with a fellow photographer and trade portfolio building sessions. We took a scenic route to the west entrance of RMNP, through some of the cutest small towns I’ve ever seen. I think it was Bond, CO that we stopped on the side of the road to admire the Colorado River winding through the mountains, speckled with fly-fishermen.
As I stood on top of a boulder taking it all in, tear streamed down my cheek. I looked at Dan and he had sweaty eyes too, we hugged for a while, imagining a different life. I cry just about every time I’m in Colorado, my heart sings with the mountains and aches to live there most days. One day, I imagine, it will be a reality. For now, I’m learning to love the state I’m in, and it’s surprised me how beautiful Texas actually is. I’m very excited for our upcoming Texas trips once our airstream is complete, NEXT MONTH!
Just driving through the park is absolutely stunning y’all. Trail Ridge Road is such a fun experience! Even if you don’t hike anything there (but you definitely should if you can!). The road itself is amazingly fun and has views for days and days. I wish we’d had more time there so we could do the entire drive from west to east, but we had to save that for the next time!
We drove up to Medicine Bow, which was the original meeting place we’d agreed on. It was cold and windy AF y’all!! Daniel didn’t pack properly for that so I was blocking him from the wind while we walked the trail a little bit. We decided there’s no way we could be up here in wedding gowns and look halfway decent!
As we/I scrambled to figure out how to reach the other photographers (no cell service in the park). Afraid that if we waited there for our meeting time we’d lose the sun… We stopped to check out the Alpine Visitor Center, I parked the car. One of the photographers we were meeting, Kim, happened to be there, saw me walking to the center, and called my name! What are the odds?? I was so relieved. Then we were trying to figure out how to reach the second photographer and her husband, who were going to model for me! We decided to go back down Trail Ridge Road towards the park entrance & cell service, so we could hopefully reach our other photographer friend. IT ALL WORKED OUT.
We each got dressed and immediately started taking photos. I think we were all excited for these Colorado views, one of the ladies is from Georgia and the other just moved to CO from, take a guess, Texas (though, she’s from Louisiana), I told you there’s something about Texans loving on Colorado!! I made a “Just Married” sign and vow books for us to use as props. The couple from Georgia, Kayla & Robert eloped last year at Yosemite! So jealous.
Here are a few images that I took. Keep an eye out for another post with a few I’ve received from Kayla of Daniel & I in our wedding gettup 🙂
I took so many pictures and was so excited that I’m not sure I spent much time just being present and taking in the views and enjoying my time in mountain country. Something to work on for next time! It can be difficult being in a place that’s differently beautiful than your usual surroundings, as a photographer.
We also spent a lot of time hiking and I was telling Daniel how it’s semi-frustrating to go on vacations in places like Colorado because you don’t want to just “relax” and spend time inside your hotel, catching up on Netflix, or sleep, or just doing nothing. Because it’s so beautiful outside! We don’t have this kind of weather in Houston! There aren’t mountains to hike! We did A LOT of exploring and were thoroughly sore when we got home, ha!
All in all, I love Colorado. I think it’s beautiful all times of the year. It’s definitely some place we’ll continue to visit and eventually call home.
What sort of shenanigans do you get into with your partner? I’d love to hear your story, let me know in the comments!!