4am. Roll out of bed. Hit the road. Must be somewhere glorious for sunrise.
This is what so many days are like. And this day was no different. Road trip days are special. The way I do them is pretty simple. Pick out the first thing I want to see and what time I need to be at that place. Then pack what I'll need and load up the Jeep the day before. Go to sleep early, wake up early, get to driving. This almost always includes a Monster and two or three gas station bars. It's a big part of my process, these gas station treats. Typically when I arrive where I intended, that's when it's decided how the rest of the day will proceed. Jon and I will roll into a small coffee shop and kick around some ideas- places near and far that are doable. And for the far options, what we could see on the way that would make the drive fun.
For this day, we took Trail Ridge Road from the Grand Lake side and ended up in the Maroon Bells Wilderness, via Independence Pass.
When we got into RMNP there were elk-a-plenty. Including a couple spotted babies. It was peaceful and the alpenglow was coating the world in gold.
When we finished up our drive of Trail Ridge Road, we grabbed some coffee and headed towards the Maroon Bells. Neither of us had visited before, but we'd both wanted to for so long. The plan is obviously to reach their pointed summits in time. Today though was just to be dazzled by what they are: majestic. As fuck.
This drive involved Independence Pass, which is just past Leadville and Twin Lakes. It is a glorious mountain road with waterfalls and flowers everywhere. Panoramic views can be found easily and the air is crisp. If all driving was like that road, boy would driving be a fun thing. Maybe not in the winter...
We drove through a very hectic Aspen and eventually emerged in wilderness. With a very small walk, there we were- standing at a crystal clear, green and blue lake, surrounded by vivid flowers, staring up at the most unique and threatening mountains I've ever seen. The lake was full of happy fish. Trout I assume. Swimming around and splashing in that clear water. The whole scene was quite surreal. It was the sort of thing you imagine, but expect to be less rad in person. The Maroon Bells are way more gorgeous in person. By a lot. The area looks like a fairytale.
On the drive home it began to rain. We'd been expecting rain for a few hours and it finally started when we were about half down Independence Pass. It created a serene vibe. I think neither Jon nor myself could believe how close we live to such a remarkable wilderness. And we cannot wait to play in it.