I woke up in Denver refreshed. After arriving in the city we had gone to dinner, came back and crashed for the night. It was only 7am when we woke up, but it felt like 9. Mountain Standard Time had its advantages. Quickly we packed up, getting ready to leave. I was excited to face the day. It would be the last leg of our trip, up into The Rockies. We had a friend that lived up in Silverthorne. It would be only about an hour in the car, yet it was exciting to get that last leg over.
We headed out of town around 9am. It was a clear day, the clouds that had followed us into Denver had dissipated. Denver was an incredibly beautiful city, and I took pictures as we passed through. We made a few quick stops before jumping onto I-70 West. I was immediately surprised how fast we were in the mountains. Soon after leaving Lakewood we were climbing into The Rockies. The highway narrowed, and we were steadily climbing.
I was surprised how different these mountains were from any I had seen. They were tall and broke out of the treeline, leaving many of their tops bare, even at lower elevations. Only small trees and bushes clung to the mountainside. I saw two Big Horn Sheep perched on a rocks high above us as we passed. I was gazing causally out when I saw them. I wanted to call out, but we were past them by the time I gained enough composure to say anything. The mountains were large, and stone and small vegetation made up the mountainside. I was surprised that there were not more trees, being used to rolling hills and mountains that were blanketed by them.
You come into the mountains in stages. We rose up, and then leveled out for a bit. The road narrowed , the mountains and cliffs towering over us. In several places great nets covered the mountainside cliffs, protecting motorists from falling rocks. Further up we could see the snow capped peaks that lay in front of us. We passed a sign for Rocky Mountain National Park, bright green in the landscape mute of color. The highway passed tiny little towns tucked into the folds of the mountain. We rushed by tiny mining mountain towns that had been forgotten. Many of them looked rough, the downtown seemed vibrant, yet at their fringes they looked careworn and beaten. They were only a shadow of what they had once been.
There are two choices to get over to Silverthorne. You can take the Eisenhower Tunnel, or Loveland Pass. The tunnel is about a mile long and travels underneath the continental divide. Loveland Pass weaves through the mountains. It passes over the Continental Divide before heading down to Silverthorne. The boys decided that it would be a great experience for me to go over Loveland. We took the exit, passing over the highway and towards the hills. As we continued we went under one of the chairlifts for Loveland Ski Area. It was strange looking up and seeing the cables and chairs as we passed underneath them. Moving along we hooked to the left and began our ascent.
Loveland was like nothing I had ever seen before. The road made a serpentine route up into the mountains, and we continued to rise up. The snowy slopes ran right up to the road, and I could see the layers that different storms had left. Slowly the view became better as we rose higher. Near the bottom there had been many tiny conifer trees, but these subsided as we continued up. I began to see more snow covered peaks surrounding us. The road had no guardrails in many place, and I refused to look down, we were at dizzying height. Not only this, but the lack of trees had begun to make me wary. Something about bare steep slopes makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Yet at the same time it was incredibly beautiful.
Near the top winter was still in full swing. We came over the Continental Divide, the sunlight breaking through the clouds. In both directions The Rockies rose up. Their well defined peaks were covered in snow, and the ridges went on forever. They were like nothing I had ever seen before. Their size and grandeur is something that I could never do full justice to. The entire pass was still snow covered as well. On the side of the road, was Yellow and Brown a National Forest sign that signified the Continental Divide. Many people had pulled over and were taking pictures with the sign. Others were climbing from cars, skis and snowboards in hand. There are many ways to enjoy the pass.
We began our slow descent down. Once again we navigated hairpin turns, and the steep roadway. I kept to myself quietly taking in the world around me. The mountains were beautiful, the sun shone off the snow on their high peaks. It brought out the definition of the peaks, the spines and the ridges all over the range. It is a majestic place, where one can see the true extent of natures beauty.
Soon we had once again sunk down into the valley. Even down here Winter had not quite lost her grip. At home it had been in the 80s and warm. In New Hampshire, Spring was in full bloom, and the trees were in bloom. Up here it looked like they were about a month behind us. Even where the snow had melted away, the trees were still bare. It gave the valley a very barren look. The only green was coming from the pine trees. The scenery was majestic though, the lack of trees allowed for wide sweeping views. We passed Keystone, and headed into town. Silverthorne was a beautiful. Tucked near the mountains and the lake, it is the perfect place for a vacation.
After three days of traveling we had reached our destination. I couldn’t believe that I had finally made it. It was time to unpack the bags and enjoy our time in Colorado.