Week 10 – Black Canyon to Rocky Mountain National Park

Day 64 – Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Canon City

Sunday morning we packed up RC to towards Cañon City, but before we left Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, we wanted to do the scenic drive so we could see parts of the canyon we didn’t see on the hiking trails. There were some amazing overlooks and it was early enough that we didn’t have to fight any crowds.

After leaving the park, we headed east on Highway 50 for another big challenge for RC: climbing over Monarch Pass, with a steep climb to a summit elevation of 11,312 feet. It was already getting warm outside, so we didn’t want to push her too hard. We stopped at an overlook about halfway up the mountain for lunch, then continued on to the summit. She handled it with no problems.

Our next planned stop was to the Royal Gorge Bridge, but we were disappointed by how expensive it was just to cross the bridge ($24 each!). Having already seen one of the most amazing canyons in Colorado that morning, we decided the small glimpses of the Royal Gorge we could get from the parking lot were enough. We finished the trip into Cañon City to relax for the evening.

Day 65 – Canon City to Colorado Springs

Monday meant back to work, so Michael worked from the van in a city park while Tracey explored the downtown area. After lunch, we made the short drive into Colorado Springs to finish the work day and rest up for our big challenge.

Days 66 – 67 – Colorado Springs

Tuesday morning we took on the Manitou Incline, a straight, steep climb up the old tracks of an incline railway. The elevation gain is 2,090-foot in less than a mile, with an average slope of 45% and some sections as steep as 68%. We survived, just barely, then made the 3-mile hike back down the Barr Trail. Needless to say, we were done for the day, so we headed back to the hotel to get some food and get in some work.

Wednesday was a much needed day of rest. Michael put in a long day of work but probably never left the bed.

Days 68 – Colorado Springs to Denver

Thursday morning was laundry time, so Tracey handled that while Michael worked. We ate a quick sandwich in the van, and then moved on to Denver to camp at Bear Creek Lake Park. After settling in and working for a few more hours, we met our friend Amanda at the Breckenridge Brewery, which was a nice treat for dinner.

Day 69 – Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park

Instead of working from the campground, we thought it would be fun to treat ourselves to a Friday morning at Denver Cat Company, where we were got to hang out and play with twelve adorable kittens and cats. Michael didn’t get as much work done as he planned, but we had a great time playing and even snuggling with the fur balls.

After the cat cafe, we decided to call it a day work-wise, so we headed to Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. After setting up camp, we walked about 2 miles to the downtown area, where there was a beautiful riverwalk along the Big Thompson River, complete with shops and restaurants. After exploring the town for a bit, we headed back to the van to relax before our big weekend of hiking.

Day 70 – Rocky Mountain National Park

Saturday morning we got up early to try to beat the crowds and find a place a park near the Longs Peak trailhead. We took on the Chasm Lake hike, a 9-mile hike that led us up almost 2400 feet to a frozen lake tucked right into the base of Longs Peak, the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park at 14,259 feet. It was a tough hike that involved a little boulder climbing and a traverse across a very tricky, steep snow field. It was all worth it.

After the hike, it was back to the van to relax, fuel up and prepare for another big challenge on Sunday. We did find the energy to cross the street and explore the outdoor goods outlet store, but that was about all we could muster.

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