Hiking up in Mueller State Park during the changing of the leaves has been our annual tradition since we moved here 8 years ago. Last year was the first year we didn't make it to the park, and it's been 3 years since we were able to do it with all five of our kids. With the boys in town visiting during their college fall break, we packed an awesome lunch and headed up to enjoy the beautiful fall weather. We lucked out since the leaves were still vibrant and beautiful. Peter, Abby and Madeline all found great walking sticks on the first stretch of the trail. We all loved watching Madeline copy exactly what Peter was doing. She was his little sidekick for the day. We ventured along the Outlook Ridge trail to the Raven Ridge Overlook and set up our picnic lunch on the big rocks. We love the views from this overlook. In the distance we could still see lots of yellow popping up through the evergreen trees. It was absolutely beautiful. After stuffing our faces full of sandwiches, cheese and crackers, chocolate covered pretzels, and veggie chips, we headed down the rocks to explore a bit like we do every time we come to this place. We were amazed and shocked to see that the teepee we had made 2 years ago was still standing. There were a few more tree branches that people had added which was fun. Madeline was the most excited to play there and in the cave down below the teepee. All the kids were able to squeeze in the open cave for a quick photo. After playing around for quite some time we climbed back up to the overlook, grabbed our bags and headed back to the car. It was great to be able to build more memories together at Mueller State Park.
It was so nice to sleep in this morning before heading out on our last adventure in Crested Butte. We packed our lunch and then headed out on Gothic Rd. We drove all the way to the Judd Falls/Copper Creek Trailhead, just past the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (which resembles a sort of eerie ghost town). The weather was much cooler than the day before and so we headed out with our jackets. This trail was lined with the most beautiful yellow aspens and the hike to Judd falls was just gorgeous. The falls was magnificent to see from the viewpoint up above and it reminded me of the falls at Salish Lodge in Washington. It was fun to read the history behind this area and how it started as a mining town, then turned to a ghost town, and then to a scientific field station. We decided to continue on the trail and head on the Copper Creek trail towards Copper Lake. As we neared an opening to the vast mountain range, we saw several cows journeying in the same direction. It was fun and unique to see cows on the trail. For sake of time, we decided to turn around and head back instead of trying to push it to the lake. This trail is one we will come back and do again when we have more time. After we got back to the car, we drove up a little further to a small lake and ate our lunch and skipped rocks for a bit. Everyone got into the rock skipping fun and we all took note from Mike who is the ultimate rock skipper. Our trip to Crested Butte was shorter than the year before but we had just as much fun hiking different trails while still enjoying the changing of the leaves. This is definitely one of our favorite places to adventure during the fall season.
Emma and I got up this morning and went for an early run before getting ready for a day of hiking with the family. Running at 9000ft is no small task and I expended a lot of energy just to keep up with her. It was all worth it, though, as we ran through the most beautiful scenery. The leaves were absolutely amazing as they were in the middle of turning colors for the fall season. We all hopped in the 4runner and headed back to Ohio pass to walk the Beaver Pond trail again. Since we were a week or two early from the peak time to enjoy the changing leaves, it was not crowded at all. We essentially had the trail all to ourselves which was amazing. Even though not all of the leaves had started changing, the beauty inside the aspen forest on this trail is pretty spectacular any time of year. At the beaver pond there was a beautiful section of yellow leaved trees across the pond. It was magnificent. We would have circled the pond but since the cows were roaming around we decided to head back the same way we came. On the way back to the car Madeline and I walked a little slower than the others so that I could take some photos of the aspen trees and enjoy the beauty a little longer. She was not disappointed at all to go slower and eat a fun snack along the way.
After leaving Ohio pass, we decided to hike up the Scarp Ridge trail to see the magnificent views of the Maroon Bells and other mountain vistas from the top. It was a brutal steep ascent and the sun was out in full force since it was the middle of the day so we were all a bit warm. The hike was more about the views at the top than it was about viewing the changing leaves so it took some of us a hot minute to be ok with that. The views at the top did not disappoint. It was pretty spectacular. We didn't spend very long at the top since the sun was hiding behind the clouds and the wind was pretty strong. We hiked back down trail until we met up with the 421 loop. We found a nice sheltered area along the ridge line and stopped to eat our lunch. We hung up the hammock between two small trees but only Madeline was small enough to sit in it since the trees weren't strong enough to hold us big people. The 421 trail was really pretty and I enjoyed going back down that way a whole lot better than the trail we took to the top. By the time we got back to our car we were all exhausted. I wasn't surprised since the hike was a little over 5 miles roundtrip and we ascended 1600 ft in the 2.5 miles it took to get to the top. We spent the rest of the night back at the hotel, refueling and relaxing.
Running near crested butte mountain