Near Vail - Camp Hale

 Photo taken by my friend Laurel

Photo taken by my friend Laurel

As I was talking about in my Moving to a Place Where You Don't Know Anyone post last week, we've been trying our best to step out of our comfort zone and meet new people. In our first month here, we showed up for the Prayer and Worship night at church and ended up connecting with some really cool people that keep inviting us to outdoorsy stuff #winning. 

We spent the past weekend in Camp Hale (near Vail) with these new friends. 

The Campsite

Camp Hale is between Red Cliff and Leadville (as in Leadville 100) and during the 1940s was a U.S. Army training facility. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from Boulder. When we drove up, there was a sign that said something about how you shouldn't veer from the path or pick anything up because the land was previously used for military purposes. I turned to Matt and said, "Are we going to get blown up by a land mine?" 

The relatively flat campground was nestled in a ring of mountains, which was quite beautiful. We camped with around 10 other people, so we ended up getting two side-by-side sites on the grounds. It was pretty rocky, so we had to kind of move some of the landscaping to place our tents. The site did not have running water, so we all brought our own, but it did have an out house, a fire pit, and a picnic table. 

The Hike

Friday night, there was a lot of back and fourth about which hike we should do in the morning. The triathlete gang wanted to summit a 14er, but the rest of us were somewhat hesitant. That particular 14er would have been a really long hike, and would have taken up the whole day. In the forefront of my mind, I knew I still had a 9-mile run I had to fit in. 

So that everyone could be included, we decided to do a shorter loop hike that went over some falls and past a few lakes. 

We woke up, cooked breakfast on our little mini stoves, sunscreened up, and headed out. I think the hike was about an hour drive from our campsite. 

When you hike in Colorado, you have to come prepared for any sort of weather. In my pack, I had water, lunch, snacks, a rain jacket, a fleece sweater, a pair of gloves, a flashlight, and a first aid kit. I should have packed extra sunscreen because I ended up getting pretty sunburned. The sun is brighter at 9,000+ ft. 

The hike itself was beautiful. I loved all of the running water and the fresh smell of pine. There was a surprising amount of snow on the ground for it being late June. I think every single one of us sunk in knee deep in snow at least once. My shoes and socks were soaking wet from melted snow by the end of the hike (I need to get waterproof boots). 

Originally we had planned to do a big loop and go over a couple ridges, but due to the snow and the fact that we were trying to make it to a BBQ festival in Frisco by 3 or 4pm, we ended up cutting it short. We made it up to the first lake, at lunch and turned back. I think all in all, the hike lasted about 5-6 hours. I lost track of time. 

On our way back down, some of the guys decided to jump into a lake, which as evidenced by their Marv from Home Alone-esque screams, was very cold. 

The Run

After the way-too-hot and crowded BBQ festival, we made our way back to camp. I still needed to finish my run. I convinced two people to join me for part of it :)

Despite the fact that the site looked flat when we were driving in, it was not flat. Also, running at 9,000+ ft is hard. My pace slowed down substantially. 

With 497ft elevation gain and a max elevation of 9,514ft, I was pretty proud that I even did it. Especially after hiking all morning. My pace averaged out around 9:21 per mile. 

Overall, the weekend was fantastic. I love being active with people in this sort of setting because it allows you to spend a substantial amount of time talking and getting to know one another. I think the group is in the process of planning a July trip, which will include white water rafting -- yay!!

How was your weekend?