Last week I spent four days in Beaver Creek, Colorado at the Ritz Carlton hotel. This was a solo trip for me and the plan was to decompress, relax, hike and enjoy the spa at the hotel. I flew into Denver and picked up a rental car and made the beautiful drive to Beaver Creek, which is about 2 hours west of Denver. The area is a huge ski area and Beaver Creek is also near Vail, Copper Mountain and Arrowhead Mountain ski areas. The Ritz Carlton is situated in a ski area specifically called Bachelor Gulch and the hotel sits up the hill from the ski village at around 8500 feet elevation.
The Ritz is actually a ski in-ski out hotel as there is a lift right at the hotel’s back door. There are also trails that start right behind the hotel as well. The first day I arrived, I took it easy as it was too late to do much by the time I got there and I also ended up with a pretty bad altitude headache. Altitude really gets to me but after a day or two, I’m usually over it as long as I limit by alcohol intake and drink lots of water.
The next day I woke at sunrise, had some breakfast and hit the trails behind the hotel. I decided to head up the ridge and hike the “village to village” trail which is 8 miles round trip. It essentially takes you on a trail through aspen groves and evergreens. The first part was really hard as you have to climb up to the trail, which is a hard climb at the beginning but once I reached the village trail, it was flat and really beautiful. Plus the views were incredible along the way.
This was also the same day as the eclipse that crossed the U.S. Where I was in Colorado, the sun was about 92% obscured by the moon so it was almost at totality but not quite. About an hour before the eclipse started, I reached a turn off point that would take me up to a Beaver Lake, which is an alpine lake at 9700 feet. I decided to hike up to the lake, which ended up being a lot harder than I thought! It was literally a straight up climb for a solid hour and quite rocky. However, the lake was beautiful so it was completely worth it (plus, I needed the workout).
I reached the lake right as the eclipse started. There was a nice couple up there from Pennsylvania that had some eclipse glasses and they let me take a few peeks as the moon crossed over the sun. When it reached it’s peak, it was rather eerie because it darkened quite a bit – as if I was looking at things through really dark polarized sunglasses, but without wearing any sunglasses. It also got really cold quite suddenly. I think it dropped around 15 degrees in about 5 minutes so that was an odd feeling.
On the way back down, I noticed these elliptical shadows on the ground that were from the eclipse, which was really interesting to see.
It ended up being a 10 mile round trip hike that took a little over 6 hours. Needless to say, I was super tired and sore the next day after that hike but decided to go out again for another hike but kept it shorter to about 5 miles this time. I went the village to village trail again but went the opposite direction toward Arrowhead Mountain and climbed to the top of that mountain instead.
This trail wasn’t quite as difficult as the hike the day before but it was still pretty tough hike given how sore I was from the previous day. This trail also went through several groves of aspen trees again, which are always beautiful – I love their white trunks and would like to come back in the fall when the leaves turn a brilliant yellow.
After two days of hard core hiking I spent the next day doing a scenic drive and visiting the town of Vail, which I’ll post about next along with a review of the Ritz Carlton hotel.