October 10, 2020

Weekend Recap: Olsen Lake and Front Range Fun

I headed up to Minturn on Friday at lunchtime, arriving in time to take my final calls of the day from my house there. However, the internet there was being weird, and I had trouble getting my video to work on my final call of the day – frustrating! Although this internet issue has never happened before, I always feel guilty when I work from my mountain house – like I’m playing hooky by being out there rather than at home. Kind of silly in these remote working times, I know!

After work, I headed to Home Depot and the grocery store to kick off my rocking Friday night by cooking dinner and replacing my toilet flapper 😉 When I finished those, I sat down and finally finished cranking out my Sangre de Cristo 50 mile ultramarathon race report. This was such a long race, and I really wanted to capture the experience to refer back to in the future! Who knows, maybe I’ll go back and do it again next year, and it would be great to see where I went wrong this time.

Although I went to bed early, I stayed up reading far later than I really should have. No matter, I thought – I’ll just sleep late on Saturday morning. My only plan for Saturday was getting in a long trail run – possibly my last mountain trail run of the year, since it’s getting chilly fast and I’m sure it’s going to snow soon. My legs were feeling totally fine post race – no blisters at all, and only minimal soreness. I was contemplating signing up for the Indian Creek 50 Miler on 10/17, but thought I’d use this trail run to see if I was still interested in running long or if I wanted to get back to short distance instead.

Unfortunately, in spite of going to bed at 11pm, I woke up at 5am… much earlier than I had hoped! Since it was both cold out and really dark, I stayed in bed reading for a few hours. However, one thing I’ve come to learn is that my bedroom in my mountain house is always colder / darker than it actually is outside. (My roommates have the master bedroom that has windows on all sides; my little bedroom has one window facing north and doesn’t have any east / west windows, and tends to get colder than the rest of the house.) I kept reminding myself of this fact, and not to stay in bed all day, but I still didn’t get out to hit the trails until 9am – and I was feeling pretty sluggish as I did.

I started with a two mile run from my house over to the Meadow Mountain trailhead, and that helped wake me up a bit. Plus, by running on the flat part, it meant that starting the steep incline felt like a nice break! But it was still a little bit disappointing that the fall colors were starting to fade. Clearly, the peak had been last week, when J and I did our short hike on the Game Creek Trail!

I did find one great spot where all you could see was yellow… pretty!

While the colors were a bit more muted at the beginning, as I got further up, I started seeing more pops of brightness as I went along, and it became kind of fun to look for them. But meanwhile, while I had initially thought I would do the entire Grouse Mountain Loop, I was quickly realizing that a) I didn’t have time before dark and b) I was really too tired to do a long hike. Instead, I decided I’d just head up to the meadow under Grouse Mountain (about 9 miles up), eat lunch there, and run back down without traversing over to Turquoise Lakes and Beaver Creek. Then I’d be done reasonably early, and could spend the night relaxing.

But halfway up, I got a better idea – what if I turned it into a short hike and really hustled, then drove back down to the Front Range? I texted J to see if he and his kids might want to meet up for dinner if I took that approach, and he wrote back with an emphatic YES… and so my plan was decided. I was a lot more psyched about this option! And then I realized that rather than heading to Grouse Mountain meadow (which I’ve done three times this summer), I could instead veer off to “Olsen Lake” about eight miles in – a place I had seen the sign for but never been. Even better – a little adventure!

As luck would have it, the sign I’d seen the last few times had actually just been replaced with a brand new one. So despite the fact that I didn’t see a single person on the way up here (and only once have seen someone else on this trail), there are other people using these trails besides me!

I was really glad I went with this plan, as I was definitely hiking slowly and sluggishly; there was no way I had the energy for the full Grouse Mountain loop. And Olsen Lake turned out to be beautiful – what a gorgeous lunch spot!

I found some rocks to sit on right on the edge of the lake to eat the sandwich I had packed for lunch.
Not a soul was here – I loved it!

The way down was still not as fast as I wanted it to be, but the descent yielded some beautiful photos, particularly as the haze burned off the and the sky became a beautiful blue.

Maybe no reds, but still some oranges! And no filter on this gorgeous Colorado sky.

When I got down to Minturn, I hustled home as fast as possible, and threw some fresh clothes on but didn’t even bother to shower. I was worried I was going to get stuck in the daytripper traffic heading back to Denver, so I wanted to try to go as quickly as possible! But as luck would have it, the traffic was the lightest I have seen it in a year – and I made it back home (and into the shower there) in record time.

I quickly unpacked from the mountains, showered, and repacked for two nights at J’s. And while we had talked about a few options for dinner, we ended up going with my top pick – GB Fish and Chips! I had never been there before, though I had heard lots of good things, and the fried fish turned out to be amazing. J’s son was a huge fan of the pasties, so J and I got a chicken curry pasty to split as well; I ended up liking that, but not loving it as much as the fried fish. I know what I’m getting next time! And fried food was such a great treat after my hike 🙂

After we got back to the house, we put on La La Land – a movie I had once started on an international flight but never really gotten into or finished. What was I thinking?! J says La La Land is one of his favorite movies, and I absolutely fell in love with it too – the dancing, the music, the costumes, the cinematography. I loved the vintage vibe to it even though it was set in the present, and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day and night!

The next morning, I made banana baked oatmeal for everyone for brunch, and then went for a late morning run afterward. I don’t know J’s neighborhood very well, but he told me to head toward a park about a quarter mile away. I found that with no problem, but then went the opposite direction to what he intended when I actually reached the park. It didn’t end up being such a bad thing, though – the trails took me to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, which had some pretty views. And, this area was so flat! This is a nice trade for runs in my neighborhood in Superior, where I can’t go more than a hundred feet on flat ground without hitting a hill.

Plus – views of the Denver skyline, which I thought looked particularly cool with the prairie in the foreground.

After my run, the afternoon flew by with some general hang out time and then a walk around the neighborhood, and before I knew it, it was time to take the kids to their mom’s house. J and I stopped back at his house after that for a quick change of clothes, and then we were on to a double date dinner on the patio at Root Down with one of J’s best friends and his girlfriend. I was pretty nervous going into it, but we had a fantastic time, and I’m really excited for more double dates with them in the future!

The rockfish tom kha I ordered for dinner was also really outstanding.

In all, this was a really perfect weekend – a mix of some solitude hiking in the mountains, plus quality time with J and his family and friends. I am looking forward to this setting the template for many more weekends to come!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the List

Subscribe for instant email notification of new posts.

Join the List

Subscribe for instant email notification of new posts.

© 2023 by 50by25. All rights reserved. Actions taken from the hyperlinks on this blog may yield commissions for 50by25. View my FTC disclaimer.

Scroll to Top