Sunday, July 16, 2017

Ramblings in the Rockies Part 2: Bolder Boulder!

Someone is remarkably cheery for 6am. I guess if I was getting carried up a mountain in a comfy front pack I'd be raring to go to.

Can't tackle the mountains without fueling up first. Ink & Brew is a fine purveyor of those two hipster essentials: caffeine and bespoke writing implements. When you're not using your quill you can pop it in your fedora and stroll down Bedford Avenue.

Faster Mommy, can we try I-80?

Today's hike trades the desolate alpine tundra for a Vedauwoo lookalike, the Gem Lake trail. And here's a hipster lookalike, any minute now he'll pull out his bespoke inkwell to jot down a few lines of ironic prose.

The high peaks in the heart of the park loom in the distance. Who wouldn't swap the blazing heat of the foothills for their snow-clad valleys? Well Ryan wouldn't, he's quite enjoying levitating over the rocks.

One big happy family. This must be from before the snacks ran out.

A hole in a rock. Much like Rock's stomach on this woefully under-catered hike.

After two hours of hard, hot toil the rock formations fall away to reveal a hanging valley cradling a pristine lake. Ryan promptly tests just how pristine it is by drinking the water.

On chipmunk patrol. The little rascals are hyper-aggressive, sneaking up on the rock walls behind groups of picnicking hikers and dive bombing their sandwiches. Luckily we've got Ryan, who would sooner lose a tooth or two than part with his fistful of grub.

Gem Lake goes down as one of the very best hikes Team J00ster has ever tackled. Speaking of tackles, these chipmunks have met their match in a dogged 18 month old who won't rest until every last one has been chased back into a crevice.

Enough dust, sweat, and chipmunks, time to get back to civilization. The venerable Hotel Boulderado, opened in 1909, is so old the elevator still has an elevator attendant.

Last time Daddy was here he was about your size.

Kids are so healthy these days what with their kale purees and quinoa wafers. Not.

Someone has their school picked out already. An excellent choice son, now can you smuggle me into the student section at  Folsom Field?

The Pearl Street mall has gone all hip, with artisanal gelato and alpine-hipster coffee shops.

Old Main is still old. Some things haven't changed.

Glad your out-of-state tuition will at least be put to good use, maintaining the best grass this side of center court at Wimbledon.

Dad is it just me, or is the elevator attendant starting to dread the sight of my stroller approaching.

It's the 4th of July. Celebrate freedom!

Make sure the ranger isn't watching and then see how long you can ride a bucking beaver.

Daddy, I think I'll hop all the way home. OK, but I don't think they serve stroopwafels kiddo.

The new trend in outdoor outfitting is to feature a hip coffee shop within a shop. Because crampon fitting is always better when you've got a flat white in hand.

Looks like a storm brewing out there. Turns out there's a storm brewing in the cabin too as Ryan's last cheddar dinosaur slips down the seat crack.

Ramblings in the Rockies Part 1: Life Above the Tree Line

If you're going to go bush you might as well enjoy your last moments of civilization. Babyccino anyone?

Daddy, I detect hand-ground notes of hazelnut and chicory, with a hint of cherry.  Son, where we're going the notes of lodgepole pine and lupine come free with yesterday's reconstituted coffee dregs.

Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the true gems of the National Park System.  A bit crowded on a long weekend, but it's not exactly Penn Station at rush hour either: Ladies and gentlemen, we're being delayed because of chipmunk traffic ahead of us.

Dad, I believe the sign said that way.  Son, I grew up in these mountains, I read subtle backcountry clues like you read the tasting notes on a craft kale-quinoa smoothie.

Dad, I read in the New York Times this is all going to melt, but it's July and it's still here. Well son, I read in Fox News that we're getting a Huge tax cut but it's July and it's still not here. Can't believe everything you read kid, especially if the URL has J00ster in it.

Battle stations! The chipmunks are hungry and they're not scared of the big people. Sounds a bit like Ryan really.

Looks pristine, must not get many 18 month olds in these parts.

Dad I'm ready to do another five miles, what's the hold up? You tired or something?

You'll be part of the first generation to grow up without ever having to learn to drive. Actually Mommy beat you to it.

Radio Flyer, an All-American ride on the 4th of July. Spotify Flyer just doesn't have the same ring to it, sounds like something the East Coast liberals take to the Union Square Green Market to carry home their single stalks of hand-hewn organic asparagus.

He's got the Rockies in his blood, the call of the wild beckons. Or at least the call of a glampsite.

These city folk, no idea how to handle their wildlife. This isn't people-watching in Nolita.

I'm telling you son, it's this way. Dad, your track record suggests pointing in the opposite direction to you has good odds.

A rare treat, the Old Fall River Road is open for a brief window between the mid-summer thaw and the first snowstorm only a few short months away. Once the only way to the high tundra now it's a little-used dirt road that bypasses the jam packed main road. It's also the kind of road where you'd prefer someone competent behind the wheel. Too late.

Son, if we get snowed in it's your job to catch us a marmot or two. For once you can put your grubbing around in the dirt skills to good use.

The rewards for not driving off the cliff are rich indeed: a whole herd of magnificent bull elk chomping their way through a glacial meadow.

Dad coming up by car is cheating. Son, I could have said the same about riding up in an ErgoBaby. Touche!

Cahan men and their views. If not a World Top Three at least a National Park Top Three.

Digger man doing in five minutes what took the glaciers eons.

Mommy carrying Ryan at altitude? Surely a blue screen photo shoot.

12,000 feet and counting. You're in the big leagues now kid, this ain't the little play mound in Central Park.

The magnificent all-wood Grand Lake Lodge at the far side of the park is like a mini Old Faithful Inn, complete with roaring fire in the lobby.

Yeah I'd run too buddy, he doesn't look enthused about kids running amok in his century-old lodge.

Looks like the Uber is arriving folks.

The high tundra is only snow-free for a couple of months each year. Up here only the strongest survive and those lugging dad bods are out of luck.

Ride 'em cowgirl! We'll make a pioneer out of this city girl yet. Who needs a blow drier when you can just lift your cowboy hat as a roaring nor'easter rips down the valley.

The mountain village of Estes Park is right up there with the best expedition launching pads anywhere in the world. The riverside tiki bar is hopping as seasoned adventurers enjoy a last ale, or craft IPA, this is Colorado after all, before striking deep into the wilderness.

Put an outdoor pop-up pub at the end of a dusty trailhead and you've got a business proposition guaranteed to win.

First lesson in wilderness craft: catch a salmon with your bare hands. OK failing that, how about swatting those mozzies away?