Day Trippin to Evergreen

I can hardly believe that it is February. Life has been great going into 2017 thus far. I have been working per usual, and trying to fit in little adventures here and there. I live in Denver, Colorado and I have for about 7 years. There are many reasons I stay here even though my soul seems to feel the need to wander. One of the top reasons being the close-ness to so many different things.

Today happened to be a day off after 7 in a row. I was exhausted by the end of last night but I knew the weather was going to be bitchin. 73 degrees in February is a nice surprise. To have the day off and being able to get out and take advantage is wonderful. I decided to take the drive up to Lair O’The Bear Open Space in Idledale(about 30 minutes from Denver near Red Rocks Amphitheater). I brought my partner in crime, Lucy, to have some fun in the sun as well.

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There was a nice little creek running through the park that Lucy took advantage of before and after our small hike. After a short swim for her, we headed up the hill for one of the hiking loops around the park. It was gorgeous day and the part where we hiked was pretty quiet on a Wednesday afternoon. Parts were challenging as there were still ice and slippery conditions for some parts. I have heard there was a castle somewhere nearby, but I never saw it. Maybe next time.

After a mile and a a half our loop was coming to an end. It was time for a beer in Evergreen(because why not? It’s only a few miles up the road!)  Lucy and I stopped at Lariat Lodge Brewing and it felt like a mini mountain oasis. It is just on the edge of town and you have to drive up a little hill to get to it. They have a dog friendly area where you can enjoy a beer with your fur babies, you just have to serve yourself. I ordered a Lariat Lodge IPA which was a really great American Style IPA. I also ordered a Portabella Mushroom Sandwich and fries at the bar as well. The sandwich was just meh in my opinion, but when you are a brewery I suppose great quality beer is what is most important. The views here are awesome and made for a mostly relaxing afternoon, besides the loud children banging rocks on the table behind me. Do they seriously go to school anymore?

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I do love Evergreen, and try to make the quick trip over when the days are nice and I’m not working. I have also visited Evergreen Brewery and Tap House after trips to Elk Meadow Dog Park. Not only do they brew their own beer, they also carry other popular local beers. Their food was also phenomenal! I had a veggie sandwich with a cup of tomato basil soup. So good!

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There are a lot of things do in the Evergreen area, especially if you enjoy the outdoors. I have seen elk and deer many times just strolling around. Evergreen Lake is also very pretty and you have a good chance of spotting some wildlife there.

On your way out of town stop at Espresso Evergreen for a Caramel Macchiato and a treat for the pup!

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My First 14er! And Broken Compass Brewing in Breckenridge, CO.

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I’m going to throw it all the way back to Labor Day on this one. I started a draft awhile back, but writing had to come to a halt for a bit. Life has been busy, and sometimes things get put on the back-burner. I just couldn’t not post about this accomplishment that has been on the bucket list for a long time.

We woke up to leave Denver at 4:45 AM. You always want to set out early for these things because of risk of afternoon storms(lightning specifically). We had a two hour drive ahead of us to Breckenridge where my first 14’er, Quandary Peak, awaited. After a quick stop at 7/11 for gas, coffee, and protein bars we were on the way. I would like to say that the drive was beautiful, but it was still dark until we got to the trail-head. With that being said, be very cautious when it comes to animals wandering onto the highways.

 

We arrived just before 7 AM and the sun was starting to make an appearance. There were a lot of other people starting to migrate in the parking lot and bundling up. It was a chilly 29 degrees when we arrived. I had come prepared with Under Armour and lots of layers! I also made sure to bring a coat for the top of the peak because the winds often pick up and it is COLD. Layers are definitely key. Comfortable shoes are also important. I wore my Nike tenny’s with the most traction and they worked just fine.

The climb up was a challenge for sure. Many people on the trail were stopping to catch their breath as Quandary Peak is pretty much all vertical all the way to the top. The bottom is dirt and more like a steep hiking trail, as you climb more to the top it turns into pure rock and you are using muscles that you did not know you had. We stopped and took many breaks and there was no shame in that. These hikes are hard on your body and your lungs, especially if you are not used to the elevation. Always have water handy and bring protein snacks or dried fruit to help give yourself an extra energy boost when getting closer to the top. Though you may feel that all you can focus on is the pain in your legs and chest, take a look around and admire the beauty that you are trekking through. This time of year provided leaves changing colors and beautiful mountain views. Many have claimed to see mountain goats when they hike here, but we had no such luck on this day.

After 3.5 hours of hiking, we finally made it to the top of the peak. I have never seen anything like the views that I was taking in. There was 365 degrees of beauty around us and it has a way of making you feel like a tiny ant on this huge peak. I, of course, had enjoyed a beer at the top of peak and took in the beauty for as long as we could handle the wind chill.

It took another two hours to climb down, and some of the really steep parts hurt my toes as we climbed down. We got to the car and it never felt so good to sit down. We had also never been so excited to eat lunch. We drove into Breckenridge and found a restaurant on Main St that had a little bit of everything. After we finished eating, we drove to Broken Compass Brewing to reward our labors with some cold beers. This little brewery has some awesome beers! I had specifically been hearing about the Coconut Porter and had to give it a whirl. It was SO. GOOD. There are a lot of Coconut beers where you have to wonder where the flavor is. This beer had the perfect amount of flavor and resembled the taste of Samoa Girl Scout Cookies. We also ordered a flight and tried a few others.

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The taproom was really cool and had a ski chair as a table inside. They also had some barstools (that were all full when we arrived) as well as a patio area. We chose the barrel with the two chairs around it and enjoyed people(and dog watching). I ended up bringing a growler of the coconut porter home with me that day and I’m kind of wishing I had some right now.

 

Homesick for Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

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It sure has been awhile since I have had time to blog. I am very fortunate to work at such a great place, but it also takes away a lot of my free time in the summer. So here I am with a Monday off, a little bit of rain in the forecast, and a little free time.

I took a little trip back to the place I grew up a couple months ago. We happened to have a long weekend and decided to make the trek down South from Denver. Pagosa Springs is about 5.5 hours South of Denver so it’s not a short drive. In my opinion, you need at least 2 full days in Pagosa to grasp all it’s small mountain town glory.

From Denver, I recommend taking Hwy 285. In my opinion it’s the fastest and prettiest drive to get here. Once you see signs for “The Overlook” when you are coming down Wolf Creek Pass, you have begun your journey!

  • Take a photo at the Overlook on your way into town(or out). It’s one of the prettiest views in Colorado in my opinion.
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The Overlook. See my Instagram at lindstagrams228
  • Get out and stretch your legs at Treasure Falls.  Just a couple miles from the Overlook you will find a huge waterfall with a small hike to get up to it. If you like waterfalls like I do, you will enjoy getting out of the car for a few minutes to check it out.

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    Treasure Falls
  • Find a Campsite. There are many camping options in the Pagosa Springs area, but I personally love Jackson Mountain. Another few miles down the pass heading into Pagosa Springs, you will see signs on the right for Jackson Mountain. Drive in a couple miles and you will start seeing areas to camp. Camping is a personal preference for me, but there are lots of hotel options in Pagosa Springs as well.
  • Grab a Beer! Anyone who knows me, knows that breweries are like a destination for me. I love to go new places and try new styles. Though Riff Raff Brewing is not new territory for me, it is a destination I try to stop at every time I am in town. This old Victorian house was a tea and brunch place for the longest time, and I am so happy that it is now a successful brewery owned by two of my local friends. The beer selection is amazing, and the food menu has a lot of great options for different tastes. My personal favorite beer that Riff Raff brews is Spruce Juice. It’s a lovely pale ale brewed with new growth from local spruce trees that has been featured at Great American Beer Festival here in Denver. Not your thing? You are still likely to find something you like on draft here from their brews or brews on their guest tap.
  • Do some shopping. Pagosa Springs is a small town, but you can expect to find a couple nice local shops. It was too early for dinner after our beer stop so we decided to look around at a couple of the places that were open. A lot of these are right downtown all within walking distance of Riff Raff Brewing, Pagosa Hot Springs, and restaurants.
  • Grab some food! Beer and food go hand in hand for me. If there is a restaurant that has good beer, and also good food then we have a winner! One of my personal favorites in Pagosa Springs is Kip’s Grill & Cantina . Expect a very quaint space inside, a fairly large outdoor patio, excellent margaritas, and Baja-style tacos. Though they only have three beers on tap(one of them is PBR, and that will never change due to local demand)you can expect to find one from Ska Brewing in Durango and usually one from Riff Raff Brewing across the street. The spicy shrimp tacos are amazing and fresh and go great with an order of the Jalapeno poppers or vegetarian green chile queso. Kip’s also makes a mean margarita and I highly recommend one. Look for the chile pepper sign!

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  • Visit the Hot Springs. There are two hot springs in Pagosa Springs and you can choose depending on your personal preference. There is the famous Pagosa Hot Springs along the San Juan River that is amazing in my opinion. Expect to pay around $30 to get in, so make a day of it if you can. I always recommend this one at least once just so you can experience it. There are many different pools with temps ranging from 80 to 115 degrees. This is a huge tourist destination so it can get very busy from time to time. The other option is the Overlook Hot Springs which I also really enjoy. It is right on the main strip downtown and has two indoor pools and a couple on the roof as well. You can also get a massage here if you are really interested in getting you full relax on. I recommend these in the evening when the weather is cooler.
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Overlooking the San Juan River. 
  • Toss some discs. I love disc golf and there is a really cool disc golf course on Putt Hill right in the middle of town. We chose to get a little extra exercise and climb to the top to play. You can drive up most of the way if you want to though. We played all 18 holes and it took a couple hours. It’s a great way to get outside and walk around. We brought Lucy up with us and she had just as much fun running around. The course is pretty covered with shade so you stay pretty cool. There are places to buy discs for disc golf in town if you don’t have some already.

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  • Eat breakfast at Pagosa Baking Co. Located right downtown, Pagosa Baking Co. offers an amazing selection of baked goods as well as breakfast burritos, quiche, and did I mention amazing coffee? Service comes with a smile and one of the local regulars will probably chat you up.
  • Play in the river. The San Juan River flows right through town and it is gorgeous. You can take a stroll along the river walk, stick your feet in and watch people on rafts and tubes float by. You can do these things yourself if you like playing in the water. Book a rafting trip with Pagosa Rafting when the water is high, rent tubes from the same place when the water is lower. Don’t forget…that water is freaking cold!

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  • Eat lunch at Farrago Market Cafe. This place is one of my favorites in Pagosa Springs. They have yummy vegetarian options, great pizza, beer on tap, and a great patio! What more could you ask for?
  • Hike one of the many, many surrounding trails. Some of these trails are a little bit of trek, but you are guaranteed to find some of the most beautiful parts of Colorado that you will ever see. You can even hike to some natural hot springs that dont cost anything to soak in. Just be aware, it is the middle of the woods and clothing is optional. Click here for a list of hiking trails in the area. http://pagosa.com/pagosa-hiking/
  • Visit Pagosa Brewing Company. The very first brewery to open in Pagosa. Also a brewery with great selection and yummy food. My favorite beers here are the Peachy Peach and the Chile Verde Cerveza. Both have won awards at Great American Beer Festival. This location is uptown with the grocery store and gas station I go to, it’s a good stop on the way out of town.

That is about two days worth of stuff to do in Pagosa to keep you busy. These are things I tend to do when I go back to visit the place I basically grew up. Pagosa Springs is a true gem of a mountain town in Southwestern Colorado that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Durango is also an hour away and offers a lot of great dining, craft beer, and activities for outdoor enthusiasts alike if you have more time to spend in the area. I feel homesick for Pagosa Springs sometimes, but I love my life in the big city. It’s nice knowing that it’s only a long weekend trip away.