The last time I fell head-over-heels in love this fast and this hard, it was with my
cat son. (It took me three months to fall in love with the Husband in case you’re concerned, I do love him very much). But that was how I felt about Crested Butte the moment we arrived.
Our drive from Utah to Colorado was a beautiful one, marked by increasing amounts of green, lush forests and cooling temperatures, which, after days of boiling alive in Moab, was incredibly welcoming. On the way to Crested Butte, we passed a National Park we’d not heard of before – the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River National Park. We popped in, using our annual pass, for our picnic lunch and were completely blown away by the place. What a great surprise.
The minute we arrived in Crested Butte, however, I adored it. Snow-capped mountains, green meadows and cute cabins, that’s the kind of place I love best. Combine that with wonderful temperatures, bright sunshine and an adorable downtown full of little shops and cafes…I was smitten instantly.
I explored it on my own at first – all three boys were tired and napping after t he car journey. As an only child, I really need time on my own now and again, so I relished mooching around downtown in the sunshine by myself.
I got back to the hostel where we were staying and all the boys were still asleep, so I put on my running gear, chatted to the trail-runner girl on the front desk and headed out towards Lower Loop to stretch my legs. The lack of oxygen at 8,800 ft didn’t seem to dampen my enthusiasm as the views stretched on for days. I even risked a bit of solo trail running (which is VERY gutsy for me) and it was kind of heaven.
The Husband took one look at my shining face when I got back to the hostel and suggested that one night here may not be enough and maybe we should stay for two. Yeah, I really loved him at that moment. So I took him out for a quick drink that evening.
Staying longer was a great decision. The next day, we took the chair lift from Mt Crested Butte right up to the top of the mountain at about 12,000 feet, with the goal of running down. Big Brother was both excited and nervous about his first mountain run but as soon as we got running he was away! The Dude was less thrilled by the whole thing but he was game. We managed to run about 3 miles down (stopping regularly to gasp at the views, take photos and drink water) before my small person resolutely started hiking. Fair enough!
It was further down than we’d anticipated but it was honestly magical. I often ran ahead and then stopped to wait for the boys because I honestly couldn’t handle NOT running the trails, they were so flipping beautiful. We ‘triked’ (trail-ran/hiked, new phrase, people) through gorgeous Aspen groves and down single-track laden with wonderful wildflowers. It was so magical. I was delirious with happiness the whole time, and it wasn’t the altitude.
When we got back though, we were RAVENOUS. All thoughts of healthy lunches went out the windows and it was BURGER TIME! And Margarita time for me! Tiredness, sunshine, belly full of food and a margarita? Zzzzzzzz.
The next day, before we left, I snuck out early for a final run. I ran up the paved Rec Trail from Crested Butte to Mt Crested Butte. It was almost cold (delicious) and the views were wonderful. Made up for the lack of oxygen. Actually, on the whole I was surprised at how well I felt at that altitude, especially running. I was slow, to be sure, but very happy. My legs tended to feel it more than my lungs!
As we drove out of Crested Butte, we promised the Dude to play mini golf on the way…but alas it would have cost us $60 (!) so we found mini-golf instead at that night’s destination, Colorado Springs.
We were in Colorado Springs for one very special reason – the lovely Bean. Bean was my original Internet Stranger turned House Guest and Runner Friend. I hadn’t seen her since last Western States, an exact year ago, so it was wonderful to see her, her husband and to meet her gorgeous dog, Max, at long last. Lots to catch up on, lots of trips to Europe to be planned.
Our final morning in Colorado started with a quick run down Bean’s local trail for me (she’s injured, boo) and then we were off, heading out of Colorado to New Mexico and Texas.
I honestly can’t tell you how much we loved Colorado – all of us. The scenery is spectacular, the temperatures were perfect, the people were lovely…it’s definitely one of my Happy Places. I wish we could have spent longer there, but I’m really grateful for the time we did get to spend in that thin air. I ran every day in Colorado and I loved it – I spent a lot of time trying to work out which state I love the most – California, Oregon and Colorado. Could not decide!
Colorado, you have been AMAZING. New Mexico and Texas…here we come!