Colorado Hiking Trip

Introduction: I always love to hike mountain. Colorado Rockies are among the best I love. I decided to take a hike again this year, just because I want to go to Machu Pichu without altitude sickness. I found one places where I can get to climb two mountains with moderate height nearby.

2015/07/17 - Going to Colorado

Going to the Airport after finishing the second shift

I stayed at the office until 4:30am to finish the shift then drove home, went to bed immediately after getting home. I woke up at 10:45am, took a shower then finished packing then headed out to get haircut at 12:30pm. It's been overdue so I felt good when it was done. Next I drove to Izakaya Wa for lunch, the place was packed but managed to get a seat at sushi bar. The lunch was good as usual, greeted with a couple of my friends and left. I stopped by at Bicycle World to see my friend, and bought a torpedo bottle for my bike. I come back home at 2:00pm and rinsed off my hair then took a short nap, finished packing then left at 3:40pm. The road was packed at some parts so I had to drive slow, ended up taking more than one hour so I was at the parking at 4:50pm. The parking was also difficult, had to look for a place for 10 minutes and squeeze in my car right by a pickup truck clearly out of the line. Arriving at the terminal but was a few minutes late for check in, so I had to get the flight changed to a later one.

Flight to Denver: UA428 IAH (7:45pm CDT) - DEN (9:21pm MDT)

With a standby ticket in my hand, I passed the security and walked to the gate C32 at 5:40pm. I guess this will be a waiting game until the boarding time. I bought my dinner, checked email and caught up on SNS. The boarding began at 7:10pm, being told that the flight was overbooked but because of delays in international flight, some did not make it so I was allowed in at 7:35pm with an aisle seat assigned. The plane was pushed back at 7:50pm, departed accordingly. The flight was smooth, I closed my eyes and just waited for the time to pass. The plane began slowing down around 8:30pm and began descending 15 minutes later. The plane made s several turns before landing at 9:05pm. The arrival was too early so we had to wait for the gate to open. Finally at the gate at 9:30pm, walked out from the plane and took a tram to the main terminal to pick up my bag.

UA428 at IAH

Check in at the hotel

I was at the baggage claim by 9:50pm and waited for another 10 minutes to have my backpack come out. For every minute passes, I get tired and sleepy more. I just want to grab a rental car quick and go. Walked out from the building and get picked up by a bus to Enterprise rental car. It was about 5 minutes ride to the outside of the airport, lined up at the reception for another 10 minutes before giving a key of a VW Jetta. Left the place after setting up GPS to the car and began driving. I took a road down to the south to I-70 since I cannot use E-470 for a quicker ride because it was a toll road. Drove on I-70 then I-270 which is also US-36. Kept going northwest in the dark night. The area beyond Bloomfield was under construction so I missed the exit for the first time, had to turn around and approached again. All the orange barrels in winding road just confuse me a lot. Stopped by at a gas station for a pack of bottled water, checked in at the hotel and going to bed by midnight after a quick unloading and packing of the gear.

checked in packing

2015/07/18 - Hiking Day 1

To Lily Lake

Woke up at 5:00am, stretched my body and took shower. I checked my backpack for the one last time then walked to the hotel lobby to grab a quick breakfast around 6:00am. Put my bag into the car and drove out from the hotel at 6:15am. Taking US-36 to Boulder, going downhill for the most of the part so I can see the line of mountains well. The road turned to north from west, slowly moving inside the town. The posted speed limit increased back as the area became less populated. I began driving on a winding road while looking at mountain range to left, ranching field to the right. I see many people riding bicycles, maybe I should have brought mine, too. Hitting an intersection with Ute Highway, making left to enter Lyons, which is another slow moving zone. From here on for about 20 miles, the road had posted speed limit of 45mph but unable to keep it for a long because the road is winding so often and tight between gorges. Driving between 30-40mph, along the gorges and river, I had to move carefully. Finally the sights opens up, going downhill toward Lake Estes. Making a left turn to get on CO-7 and headed south for a while. There, I can see the Twin Sisters Peaks where I am trying to get today.


Hiking to Twin Sisters Peaks

Arrived at Lily Lake at 7:40am, it was quiet with not many people around. Gear up, and locked up the car. The ascent began around 7:50am, there was a group of people in front of me chatting cheerfully. The trail was pretty much well maintained so the difficulty was low but about one hour into the hiking, I reached to a place where landslide took out a big portion of the mountain. from here I had to struggle for a while to get back on the trail. I stopped every 20 minutes and drink water, feeling the effect of the high altitude. I reached the height where no trees around at 10:50am, from here on, I walked in a rocky trail for about 30 minutes before arriving to the foot of the big rock which is one of the summit. I climbed up very slowly, and reached to the top at 11:30am. I looked around the panoramic view of the mountains, it was beautiful and the weather was pretty nice. I ate snacks, and rested for 20 minutes before beginning the descent. I walked back in the rocky trail for a while, greeting with people coming up. When I reached to the wooded area, I missed the nice view for a bit but kept going. There are hikers who are used to in this environment so I was passed by many people. Just as I reached the final traight, i heard of thunder and rain. I walked out from the trail under cloudy sky with misty rain. I drank 2.0L of water on this trip.

Lily Lake

Starting point Landslide Waking in a trail Tree height getting lower
back in trees landslide Back at the starting point

Lunch, Beer and Dinner

Back at the parking at 2:15pm. The place is now full of cars and many parked along the road. I guess this is a popular spot and I am glad that I got here at 7:30am. I get changed my cloth, looked up for a restaurant and found "Estes Park Brewery" nearby, so I set the course and headed to there. It was just across the downtown area of the Estes Park, the main street was packed and very slow to move. Ate 1/2lb burger with fries coming with a couple of beer then left the place.

1/2 lb burger Lunch after the hike with beer 3:24pm

 Taking US-36 back to Boulder, getting off near downtown and found a place to park. I began walking around to check out the Hotel Boulderado, a hotel opened in 1909, registered in National Historic Place. Another was Elk Lodge built in 1904. Walking on Pearl Street mall, where I see street performers, shopping malls, and people who smokes marijuana. Those people looked weird and also scary. News talk about legalizing marijuana but after I saw that, I am on opposing side. Leaving there around 5:30pm, followed CO-7 and get off at 55th St. After a short drive, I arrived at Upslope Brewery at 5:50pm. I had a beer then moved on.

At Upslope Brewing Company

I took US-36 back to the street by the hotel, found a Chipotle but changed mind at the last minute to Tibet restaurant. They offered a buffet so I took the deal. I had to help myself after 6 hours of hiking today... The Tibet's Good Karma Beer was also smooth and good. Spent about 1 hour from 6:30pm there then drove back to the hotel. Took shower, repacked my gears for tomorrow, going to bed around 10:00pm.

Tibet food and beer 6:37pm

2015/07/19 - Hiking Day 2, Coming back to Houston

To Lily Lake

Woke up at 5:00am, my legs are a bit sore but cannot miss this opportunity to go up another mountain. Stretched my body, took shower while checking the weather. It indicated no rain so today must be a good day. Walked up to the lobby at 6:00am after finish packing and loaded bags into the car, for breakfast. Ate a quick meal then checked out from the hotel. I began driving toward the Lily Lake, the sky is filled with clouds so it was more colorful than yesterday. Taking the same path as the yesterday's seeing several bikers on the way and arriving at the parking at 7:30am. The air was chilly so I had to keep my jacket on. I realized that they have a restroom here, so I cannot miss taking advantage of it.

Breakfast 6:15am

I see bikers all over the place. I should have brought my own...

Hiking to Estes Cone

Began my ascent to Estes Cone from 7:50am. I had to walk on a trail for about a half mile then arrived at a bridge, which separating the path with others. The route consisted of moderate climb on well maintained trail. I kept going up and take a short break every 15-20 minutes. Heading toward north for a while, then turned left and began going around clockwise toward Storm Pass. The trail became greener in all sudden. I am not sure why this section has all flowers, trees, but beautiful. I was looking at number of signs at the Storm Pass at 9:30am, then continue on the last 0.7 mi to the summit. The path became very steep and rocky. I cannot use hiking poles here. Sometimes just dirt, roots of trees, and rocks. There were not many choices I have here, so I kept looking up. going up while looking for the sign of trail leading up for next 10-20 feet. I finally reached to the rocky part, and I saw people passed me on the trail were there. I was able to be at the rocky summit at 10:20am. The sky was cloudy, and Longs Peak was covered by a wave of clouds. I rested for a while then decided to come down before the weather changes, and hope I can go home early. Walking straight back, meeting people going up as I come down. I took a few stops but not much needed. Arriving back at the bridge, used hiking poles to walk back the trail to the parking lot. I arrived there at 1:00pm.

Trail off the parking Began walking into the trail crossing a bridge to start

Beer, Lunch, Get refreshed then to the Downtown

After arriving at the parking, I get changed shirts and washed my face and hair with bottled water. I then left there at 1:00pm to Longmont to check out Left Hand Brewery. The road back on CO-7 was not so bad, just a big camping trailer right in front of me and needed to go slow. I made it the brewery at 2:00pm, the tour was sold out so I just had a beer then left. Taking CO-119 east to I-25, the road was pretty much straight, making a stop at McDonald's for a quick lunch. Then drove down south on I-25 to use shower at Lifetime Fitness location. Just a few miles before my exit, the road got jam packed because of an accident on left lane. I am at the gym at 3:50pm, took a quick shower, get changed. I just felt so refreshed. Packed my bag for the returning trip then moved on. I drive to downtown by taking I-25 south. The downtown part is always confusing because the city is positioned at 45 angle, while maintaining the north-south, East-west roads. I found a parking spot on a road, which I did not have to pay because it was Sunday. The part where I parked did not have much people around and it was a little scary. Walked to the Hard Rock Cafe and bought several pins and headed out.

At Lifetime Fitness to get showered and Changed

Hard Rock Cafe

Back at the Airport

I drove on Broadway to north until hitting the I-70 east toward the airport, I kept going then changed to Airport Blvd toward the airport until seeing a sign for rental car return. Refilled the tank at nearby (and only) gas station before returning the car at 5:50pm.

Filling up gas on VW Jetta

Pork BBQ slider and Ranger for the dinner at DEN 6:51pm

Flight back to Houston: UA1704 DEN (7:42pm MDT) - IAH (11:09pm CDT)

I get on a shuttle with my baggage, arriving at the main terminal for check in. I wanted to get on an earlier flight so I paid $75 for the change fee. I grabbed a ticket and proceeded to the security at 6:15pm. Took a tram to terminal B for the United flight. I got off from the tram, checked the monitor for the flight information. I found that B28 is the one. I walked around the terminal for a while, ate at a restaurant while chatting with other passangers. There was a group of people, for 5:00pm Houston flight still waiting. I walked back to the gate after dinner, confirming that I am on #2 spot for standby. I think I have a quite good chance. The boarding started from 7:10pm, the flight to Houston for 6:00pm left but 5:00pm one is still on the ground. The list for standby is now two pages long. I was allowed in at 7:30pm, 10 minute before the departure. The plane left the place at 7:44pm, taxied for a while The plane landed at Houston at 10:50pm. I am glad my trip went well, and I am not coming back at 1:20am in the morning like initially planned. The plane taxied for 5 minutes and arrived at Terminal E.

I got the standby seat on one flight earlier

To Home

I began walking toward baggage claim after getting off from the plane at 11:00pm. There was a line of people, maybe about 300, lined up nearby customer service center for their booking. It's not a good time to travel, and I was lucky that the flight was direct, and both Houston and Denver were major hub for the United. At the claim, the bags did not come out for another 15 minutes but I was the one of the first one. I walked to a shuttle van to the parking, there were a couple families came back from Hawaii vacation with me. I got out from the parking then drove home. I came home around 12:30am, stayed up until 2:00am then went to bed.

Twin Sisters Peak 3.9mi
Estes Cone 3.7mi



Rocky Mountain National Park Planning Guide in PDF

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