Coast to Coast Adventure, Days 5-8

My husband Rob and I have quit our jobs and are moving from Dayton, OH to Medford, OR with our two dogs Moose and Schuyler. Before we settle there, we are embarking on a 2.5 month adventure across the US. I’ll be working as a hospitalist when we get to Oregon in September.

Days 5-8: Winter Park and Fraser Colorado. Hikes Vasquez Creek Trail, Corona Lake, Henderson Spur to the CDT. Max elevation 12,136 feet.

We were warmly greeted in Winter Park by my brother Greg and his significant other, Beth. We had a delicious night out eating Italian food at Volarios and drinking manhattans (Rob had beer, 🤢). Every time I’ve been to visit my brother before I’ve had terrible migraines from drinking at altitude or from going up too high on hikes- so far, fingers crossed 🤞🤞🤞, I’ve avoided this malady this visit. Greg and Beth always try to get us to stay out late, drinking, but Rob and I are getting too old for that! 🤷🏻‍♀️

The next morning, we woke up and got up to get moving. I’ve always wanted to drive up “Moffat Road,” as I see the sign for it whenever we come up the pass from 70. This is a 4×4 road that goes up to Corona Pass and Rollins Pass, up on the divide. This was our first time driving a long off road trail with our Lexus, as we sold the Subaru when we left Ohio. Overall it did very well, but the Subaru had this cool feature where it would let each tire drive independently of the others, which the Lexus does not. It definitely would have come in handy for some huge ruts and puddles we encountered, and it took us an hour and a half to get up the road with all the precision driving.

Corona Lake is a glacial lake just off the road. You actually hike down to the lake at the base of a peak. It was about 11,500 feet elevation, and the trail to the lake was obscured by a few snow fields. The dogs loved the snow! Sky went crazy diving in and rubbing herself all over it. Moose jumped around like a puppy. He also gobbled a bunch of snow and then promptly threw up. This, we ended our hike a little early so he could rest his digestive system.

The drive down the road was just as long, going slow to make surge we didn’t scrape the bottom of the car. The road was actually much busier than I thought it would be, but it was a Saturday morning. The amount of people coming out to the mountains from Denver each weekend is insane. This whole excursion took about 6 hours all told, and the altitude granted me a headache when we were done. Luckily it was mild, and improved with a quiet night in. We finally cooked dinner instead of going out, and I made a healthy and delicious grain salad with veggies for dinner. Still doing AWESOME sticking to my calorie goals 🔥🔥.

Sunday my brother got us set up with an awesome trip on the Clear Creek River. We did the beginner rafting trip with AVA and our guide Conner. It was sooooo fun!!! The water was freezing and running really high due to all the snow, so we had lots of big waves and rapids. We are already planning to go rafting again soon, and try to do some harder level rapids. And bonus: nobody fell out of the boat!

We ended the outing with lunch at a brewery in Idaho Springs, where I had a delicious homemade veggie burger and a summery Moscow mule- Westbound and Down. We ended the day starting a Stranger Things binge- which we are continuing today.

Monday morning we were up bright and early. The daily afternoon storms up in the mountains means very careful planning on our end. We cannot be out in a storm with our dog Moose. His anxiety level is unreal, and he will bolt and take us out with him. So we get up and out by 8 and make sure to set a definitive turn around time that we stick to. After much much much researching we decided to hike the Henderson Spur trail up to the Continental Divide.

This trail starts at at trailhead just across from the Henderson Mine in Empire. The mine is a load whirring noise that you hear for the first and last half mile of the hike, but after that you don’t notice it. The trail goes up for about a mile and a quarter, and then it intersects the Continental Divide Trail. We chose to veer left at this point and hiked another mile and a half up past the timber line. The views were AMAZEBALLS!!!! 🔥🔥

The last time I hiked up to the Divide trail was 2 years ago. At that point I had lost 90 pounds and was in awesome shape, training for a half marathon. Today I walked up that mountain 60 pounds heavier after 18 months of struggle with migraines, chronic neck pain, and anxiety and panic disorder. My health has been challenging to say the least, and has led me to fall way off the wagon and gain back huge amounts of weight, while becoming less and less active. So this hike today meant a lot to me. I needed to see if I could still do it, if there is hope for me to get back into shape again.

The hike was really difficult, 3 miles up switchbacks to the snowy ridge-line. I stopped so many times, panting and lungs burning, quads screaming, and my knee still stiff and swollen from straining it last week. I may have struggled, but I never contemplated stopping until I reached that ridge. I may have a long way to go to get healthy and fit again, but standing up tall on top of the trail, looking out over the beautiful mountains, I felt strong. 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻

The trail continues to Jones Pass, but at this point we were dead tired and the sky was clouding up, so we turned back. It also was snowed in over on the pass. The way back was blissfully downhill all three miles. My lungs were very grateful for this but my knees and my toes were not- they took a lot of beating going down.

Lucky we turned back when we did as the skies opened up this afternoon with a bad storm. We are riding it out watching more Netflix while the dogs nap. We are still debating over what to do tomorrow- we may go backpacking but only if the weather cooperates. If there is any chance of storm we will have to just do a day hike instead- wait and see! 😊

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