Despite having started the planning process (9 months) way before our departure date, we were still making last minute changes to our itinerary📑! For example, our original plan for the first week was to take our time driving from NC to CO, maybe even stop by Illinois to see family. But about 1 week before we were supposed to leave, we decided to scratch that plan, leave a day early, and book it 🚗💨 West so we could have 5 days to explore Western CO.
This change was a pretty big deal to me because we had no campsites reserved and were going to rely completely on finding free camping (something I’d never done before). We also had barely any idea on which places we should visit. Not to mention, I was going to be on my period for the first week which made me a little worried about hygiene.
And with all of this sudden uncertainty😬, we pulled out of Cam’s parent’s driveway that Sunday morning, and started heading West.
|(8/6/23) Day 1||
7:45am - Depart Cam’s house (blue skies, down pouring🌧)
|(8/7/23) Day 2||
7:40am - Wake up, brush teeth at Walmart
|(8/8/23) Day 3||
7:50am - Wake up and depart
|(8/9/23) Day 4||
6:30am - Wake up, pack up
|(8/10/23) Day 5||
6:45am - Wake up, pack up
|(8/11/23) Day 6||
6:45am - Wake up
|(8/12/23) Day 7||
7am - Wake up, pack up
We’ve heard so many great things about Western CO and our visit was far from disappointing😍. The scenery, hikes, and nature completely surpassed our expectations. I can’t put into words how beautiful this area was so I’m just going to let the pictures do the talking. If you’re like me and love being in the mountains, you have to go check out Western CO.
There’s something very comforting about being in the mountains⛰. These huge walls and masses of Earth have been tested by pressure, all kinds of weather, and time (like millions of years). Then there’s little me, who probably couldn’t even survive a single snow storm. My existence feels totally inconsequential (in a yolo, non self-deprecating kind of way) whenever I’m in the mountains.
I originally planned for us to hike Mt Sneffels, which would’ve been our first 14er. (How could we visit CO and not hike a 14er??) But since we delayed our start time in hopes of seeing a friend, we just didn’t have enough time to hike the whole mountain before dark. I’m a bit bummed about it but the hike was still awesome!
There were plenty of wildflowers and a few beautiful lakes. We even decided to get in Upper Blue Lake which was by far the coldest water we’ve ever been in.
“I eventually got back in and everything still hurt. I really contemplated backing out because all of my survival instincts kicked in and were telling me this was a bad idea. And then I just heard Cam countdown. When he got to 1, I submerged myself despite all of my inner dialogue telling me not to. When I got out, ooo boy EVERYTHING was hurting. I was wheezing in pain.” - from my journal 8/13/23
Between the hikes and beautiful mountain views, Cam and I had a lot of fun visiting several mountain towns (Ouray, Ridgway, Telluride, Leadville, and Vail). We loved the proximity to outdoor activities and enjoyed the small town feel each place offered. But as much as we adored these aspects of them, when it came to thinking about if we could see ourselves living in any of those places long term, we felt that they were just too remote for us.
Attending major events, traveling, and running certain errands would be a lot more difficult. The number of job opportunities would also be significantly lower in these places. I guess that’s the trade off some people choose to take🤷🏻♀️.
Obviously, there were several things that didn’t go to plan this first week, like our first night or waiting around in hopes to see a friend who didn’t end up being available. But I’m happy to say that none of these hiccups really phased us. In fact, it seemed like when things didn’t go according to plan but still turned out fine, the trip felt even more exciting.
This happy-go-lucky attitude definitely carried throughout many parts of the trip. And since it was especially strong this first week, Western CO was a truly blissful experience. There’s still so much left to explore in this area so we’ll definitely be back in the future.
As for my worries about hygiene, the rinses were enough for me to get by and it ended up not being a big deal. I’m very glad this issue turned out a lot better than I expected.
For our next stop, we headed slightly east to Rocky Mountain National Park and Denver!