The trip was just what I needed. Early in the morning, I ran a section of the Leadville 100 course (about 90 minutes or so), and departed Leadville with pure anticipation of what the weekend might bring. About 1.5 hrs into the drive, you begin a steep and steady climb to independence pass, which tops out at around 12,950 ft. The views from the rest area are some of the most picturesque sights I have ever seen, not to mention its at the top of my list for ones you can drive to. However, I would recommend parking your car and observing, rather than trying to navigate the winding roads (without guardrails).
After a brief stop to take in the view, I headed down route 82 to meet my friends in Aspen for dinner at the Hickory House, and then on to Snowmass for a free concert.
The next day, I made an attempt to climb Mt. Sopris
Mt. Sopris, as I have been told, has the highest vertical gain from base to peak in the state of Colorado. Another plus is the fact that it peaks at just under 13k, a perfect combination for someone trying to acclimate to altitude. After climbing for around an hour and a half, you begin to rise above treeline. At this point, you are able to see the surrounding towns of Basalt, Carbondale, and even Aspen if you know where to look. Capitol peak and Snowmass peak are easily visible as well, and they dominate the southern landscape. With lunch, snacks, and numerous photo-ops, my friend and I covered both peaks in just under 8 hours. This accomplishment immediately renewed my confidence and left me with a desire to push myself even harder.
The next day was spent in pure relaxation, tubing down the Roaring Fork River. My float of choice was a queen-sized air mattress. This proved to be quite useful since the river's temperature was not much above 50 degrees. And the scenery was, once again, amazing... bald eagle's perching on treetops, Mt. Sopris looming over the landscape, and the red hills that rise up from either side of the river were enough to keep a smile on my face for the entire day....
This weekend allowed me to step back and truly appreciate what I am doing out here.