My favorite hike and the longest one that we went on was the Ute Trail. The trailhead started at Milner Pass and ended at the Alpine Visitors Center. Four miles each way and the trail started at two miles above sea level and we gained a bit more altitude over the course of the hike. We had come across this trailhead on our first day driving up trail ridge road and towards the end of or trip decided to hike it.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day for a hike. Cool in the morning with clear skies, the birds were singing and the wildlife was out. We spied a doe grazing by herself and she was content to let us take pictures of her as long as we didn’t get any closer. We came across a group of hikers coming from the other end of the trail that had seen two bull elk fighting earlier in the morning. Towards the end of the hike we came across a Yellow Bellied Marmot sunning himself on a rock above tree line.
The scenery was absolutely beautiful. The first mile and a half was thick trees with small clearings. Little streams crossed the trail. Cold, clear water that babbled happly down from snow melts on the peaks above. The higher we went the more the trees thinned and grew shorter, slower. The view at this height was breathtaking. Words can’t describe and pictures don’t do the view justice.
About a mile from the end of the trail we met a group of retirees hiking down hill. A couple of them stopped to talk to us. One was a man a little a head of the group; he and Keltin spoke about photography for a while. Then there was a lady that told us that one of her hiking companions was 84 years old. That was a humbling moment because Keltin and I were huffing and puffing as we hiked and these older people were acting like it was nothing.
Getting to the Alpine visitor center was glorious. I could sit down and rest for a minute. We could stay long though, in the distance we could see a storm forming and wanted to get below tree line before it got to us. The hike down was both easier and more difficult. Going down always seems easier than going up but we were already exhausted. When we finally got back to the Milner Pass trail head I was so happy to see the car. Before leaving we spoke to the volunteer park range at the trail head. After finding out that we had hiked both up and down, he stated that we were either adventurous or crazy. I’d like to think it was the first but its probably a bit of both.
This video Keltin took somewhere during the first two miles of the hike. Video was taken on a Cannon Rebel. Don’t laugh to hard at how out of breath I am. Happy hump day and Happy Valentines.
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