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Hiking in Beaver Creek, Colorado

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.

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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.

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Hiking the Village to Village Trail

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Great views on the hike

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.

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Love the aspens

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I had great weather and blue skies as well

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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).

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Beaver Lake

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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.

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Deer I saw along the hike

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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.

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View from Arrowhead Mountain

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.

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Aspen groves

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More aspen trees along the trail

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.

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