Category Archives: USA 2017

Along the golden trails of Colorado

While I stayed in Boulder, I managed to go on several different hikes, most of which I had never done before. One of them was in the mountains right behind the city – “Mount Sanitas”. Coincidentally I joined a group of very mentally and physically fit hikers of the golden age, most of whom were also part of the ROMEOs like John – “Retired Old Men Eating Out”. By the time we reached the top we were happy that we had started at 7am for it was already a hot day.

The view of Boulder as seen from “Mount Sanitas”
Hiking with Judy and some of the ROMEOs

For the weekend I went up to Eldora with Micki and John. There they have a nice cabin, which they like to visit frequently. It’s up in the mountains where it is a bit cooler than in Boulder and it’s also not as busy. It used to be a mining town, but the mines have long been abandoned. The “Goldminer Hotel”, “Klondike Avenue” and “Eldorado Avenue” are remnants of this short golden era. Now it mostly consists of weekend houses and only a handful of people live there year rounded.

One of the cabins in Eldora
The “Goldminer Hotel” is still in use

To accommodate the increasing number of day-tourists, a shuttle service has been installed, which connects the close by trailheads to the nearest town with bus connection. This way Oscar was able to join me for a hike up there. We left early in the morning and decided to go to “King Lake”. The reviews of people who had been there recently had all described it as being wet and snowy, but as we made our way up through the trees we only encountered small patches of snow. Maybe it had all melted in the last two weeks?

Hiking up to “King Lake” with Oscar
There is hardly any snow left in the lower part of the valley

By the time we reached the lake, we knew better. There was still lots of snow left, which was partly because we were in a valley, but also because we were getting higher and higher with an elevation of about 3400m at “King Lake”. Luckily Oscar had some snow chains for the boots, which he lent me for better traction. It definitely made it easier to balance. Yet the view of the lake and the surrounding mountains was amazing and it was definitely worth the effort.

“King Lake” was still partly covered with ice, but looked still amazing

The weekend after we also went up to Eldora. This time Micki and John had invited some friends for a dinner at their cabin. But before the guests came over, John and I went on a little hike up “Eldorado Mountain”. It was a short and relatively easy hike, but it provided a good view of Nederland, Eldora and the ski slopes that I had gotten to know so well during my time at the university in Boulder.

Looking towards Nederland
At the cabin with Micki and John

That night we slept quite well with a happy stomach filled with beef casserole, carrots and potatoes out of the oven and a delicious angle cake. The next morning we were ready for some more hiking. Unfortunately the area we had planned to visit was closed to protect the wildlife. Instead we looked for another trail at the “Sourdough Trailhead”, but we couldn’t find the one we looking for.

We were looking for the southern entrance at the “Sourdough Trailhead”, but couldn’t find it

Back in Boulder I decided to go with Oscar on one last hike. We chose one of the classics, leading up to the “1st Flatiron”. The afternoon sun was beating on our backs and dozens of hikers and climbers were making their way up and down the mountain. However, the view of the massive and inclined rocks of the other “Flatirons” and the picturesque city at our feet was more than rewarding.

The view towards the mountains from the “1st Flatiron”
The “2nd Flatiron” was still in view

It ended up not being my last hike for this time, as I had still almost all day the next day before flying back to Canada. Therefore, I asked John to join me, who readily agreed to show me yet another trail that I had never done before. We followed the “Fowler Trail” past Eldorado Springs, through fields of wildflowers and  a small canyon. On the other side we could see several climbers ascending the steep walls of “Shirttail Peak”, while the golden eagles were soaring above everything. It was a worthy finish of my time in Colorado!

“Bear Peak” as seen from the “Fowler Trail”
“Shirttail Peak” is popular with rock climbers

Home of the Buffalos

Even if we didn’t see any buffalos at “Buffalo Pound Provincial Park”, I got another chance in Boulder. This American city is home to the “University of Colorado” (CU), where I was studying for one year in 2010/11 with a Fulbright scholarship. It lies right at the bottom of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with the iconic “Flatirons” rising just behind. The outside of the university buildings is kept in das sandstone bricks, giving it a Mediterranean flair.

The “Flatirons” are Boulder’s iconic mountains
Most buildings on campus have a sandstone facade, giving it a Mediterranean flair

Together with Micki and John, my host parents in Boulder, I rediscovered the campus. We walked all over and had a look at the university museum in the old main building. Here, a exhibition was dedicated to Ralphie, a buffalo, which has been the mascot since 1934. Other displays included the numerous astronauts coming from CU, as well as several Nobel laureates and other famous graduates.

Visiting the university museum in the old main building
One of the displays covers the many CU graduates that went to space with the NASA

In another room we found a miniature model of several buildings from campus and the downtown area, all made of Lego. The copy of the “Folsom Field Stadium” was very impressive and featured a match between buffalos (CU) and ducks (“University of Oregon”). However, the large, buffalo-shaped swimming pool of the recently expanded recreational center did not make it for the model. It might be part of the new Lego landscape that is being build in the room next door.

The Lego campus had detailed miniature models of the university
The buffalo-shaped pool was not yet part of the Lego landscape

Micki and John were probably the oldest “Buffs”, as CU students and alumni are called, that I had met during my time at the university. Six years later very few fellow students were still around. The ones I knew were Oscar, who had decided to stay for a full PhD program, and his girlfriend Marion, as well as Dan, who had been involved in “CU international”, organizing various activities such as dinners in different restaurants every Wednesday.

I stayed with Micki and John for my two weeks in Boulder
Wednesday dinner with Dan, Marion and Oscar as a continuation of the tradition

A few days after my arrival, took me to the track and field event of his “Boulder Roadrunners”. They organize competitions every two weeks, but this time it was “Olympic Day”. Unfortunately I could not participate, as I was still handicapped with my cracked clavicle. However, I was able to help out with the stopwatch, taking time for short and long distance running, steeple chase and the relay race. In their spare time the participants could talk to local Olympic medalists like Frank Shorter, who won the marathon in 1972.

Stopping the time for the 5km run was the most difficult, as participants started lapping each other
Steeple chase was one of the competitions at the “Olympic Day”

While Micki and John introduced me to their neighbors, friends and family, I also met up with other American Fulbright alumni: Cheryl in Denver and Gene and Keith in Boulder. With the spirits high, I accepted Dan’s invitation to the grand opening of the “Longtucky” distillery to meet even more locals. It is owned and operated by his sister’s fiance and his friend. Currently they are making rum and whiskey in their copper tanks, which are self-made just like everything else on their premises. This is also the reason why it took two years to make their dream come true.

The grand opening of “Longtucky Spirits” in Longmont
Everything in the distillery was self-made by the owners, including the large copper tanks

One night I joined Oscar and Taka for a baseball game at the “Coors Field Stadium” in Denver. That night the “Colorado Rockies” were playing the “Arizona Diamondbacks”. Unfortunately, the guest team had a lucky streak in the fourth inning, after which the score was 1-10 and the game was pretty much decided. So instead of keeping a close eye on the game, we went to the top of the stadium and watched the sun setting beautifully behind the “real” Rockies.

The good seats didn’t help with winning the game
Up high we were able to watch the sun setting behind the Rocky Mountains

Another day Micki took me to the “Leanin’ Tree Museum” in North Boulder. It started out as a factory for greeting cards and later on Ed Trumble, the founder, added the museum, which displays his private western art collection. The garden houses several large scale sculptures, whereas the inside has mostly paintings in different styles. They depict cowboys, Native Americans, buffalos and the incredible diversity of nature in America’s west.

The garden at the “Leanin’ Tree Museum” was full of large scale sculptures
Western art paintings were on display in the gallery