Our original plan was to go to Denver this weekend and catch the Jason Mraz concert at Red Rocks. I'm a HUGE GIGANTIC ENORMOUS Jason Mraz fan and we caught him at Red Rocks three years ago (for our anniversary) while I was pregnant with Tanner. BEST. CONCERT. EVER! Except for the fact that everyone around us was stoned and blowing their smoke in our general direction, we really enjoyed ourselves....and not just because we may have gotten a little bit of a contact high. ANYWAY, like I said, our origional plan was to catch the concert at Red Rocks...BUT... two things came up that made it pretty much impossible. ONE: the concert is on a Monday night. Seriously?! A Monday? We pretty much figured that it would be impossible to find someone to watch the kids during the school week and Jon would have to miss work, etc. etc. etc. TWO: we're trying really hard right now to pay off some debt and make our monthly bills smaller. In order to do this we have had to temporarily limit our spending. Our philosophy is that it is better to go without for a little bit, than to go into debt for a moment of fun. I don't think too many people have this philosophy anymore. We're such a I WANT IT NOW society (more on that some other time.)
So after we decided that Mr. A to Z would not be part of our anniversary we started coming up with some ideas that would be little or no cost to us. I came up with the BRILLIANT idea to head to Hanging Lake. I've lived in Grand Junction since I was just a wee one (two years old) and before we moved here, we lived in Carbondale, which is just a smidgen down the road from No Name (yes... that's the name of the town where Hanging Lake is located.) My husband is from the other side of the tracks... Utah. LOL. He moved to Grand Junction when he was in high school for a bit and later came back but had never taken the trip up to Hanging Lake. Now, anyone from the valley can pretty much tell you that Hanging Lake is not a hidden gem. But, since my husband had never been there before and I hadn't been since I was a teenager, it kinda is a hidden gem to us.
Now here's something important to note. I hadn't been to Hanging Lake since I was like 14 or 15, which was over ten years ago and like...oh...let's just say a LOT of pounds ago. It's no secret that I'm VERY out of shape...unless you consider "round" to be a shape. I remember this hike being pretty challenging when I was younger, but thought that maybe I was just being a wuss. So I convinced my husband that this would be a GREAT way to spend our anniversary............ oh man.
When we got to the canyon outside of Glenwood we noticed a big sign that said that the Hanging Lake parking lot was full. We decided to brave the parking lot anyway and maybe we could parking spot stalk someone who was leaving. We pulled onto the off ramp and there were cars all the way back to the highway. It was crazy busy! We did manage to find a spot by stalking a family who was leaving. We loaded up our bag and hit the trail. When we got to the trail head we looked up and saw a huge pile of rocks that we were supposed to climb up. We both just kind of laughed and started our climb. Just to give you an idea about the hike, the trail itself is only 1.2 miles long. HOWEVER, you climb over 1020 feet in elevation throughout those 1.2 miles. After the first little jot up the rock stairs we took our first little break. YUP....a whole 1/8th of a mile into the hike and we're already stopping because I'm so winded I can barely stand. That's when I decided to take our first picture:
|The first little climb, yup the trail starts down by that river!|
So before our final climb to the top (which includes the "Staircase of Doom") we stopped at this little hole in a rock. We were joking about how hilarious it would be to hide there and pop out at the people coming down the trail. I suggested that this might not be a great idea because we may end up shot....but Jon insisted it would be SO funny. Right about then a man about our age passes by on the trail and Jon reaches his arm out past the rock and says "You could just reach out and rrrrroooaaarrrr" well as he reached out and growled like a bear a woman, who was traveling with the previous stated man, came around the corner and jumped about 200 feet off the ground. Jon scared the CRAP out of her and it wasn't even intentional. I couldn't help but laugh and I was already super winded so I couldn't breathe to tell her sorry or explain the situation. The only thing I got out was "he...didn't...mean to.... I promise!" She kind of laughed and kept walking but her man partner was not amused. He kept shooting Jon dirty looks and it didn't help that both of us were laughing uncontrollably. But, on the plus side, we didn't get shot!!!
We got to the last stretch before the lake when we hit the "staircase of doom" as I began to refer to it. This thing is an acrophobic's nightmare! It's like climbing a stair case on a cliff face to Hell. No lie. It wouldn't have been too bad, as there is a railing, except for the fact that there was an Asian tour group of about 45 people who were all coming DOWN as we were trying to go UP. They kept stopping right on the rail to take pictures. Please, I do not mean anything racist by this comment. The only reason I bring up the fact that they are Asian is to point out that they were clearly from another country and wanting to take any and all photo opportunities as evident by the 15 minutes we waited for them to pass so that I could continue to clutch with all my might the railing that they were blocking. This is Jon on the "Staircase of Doom" looking thoughtful and maybe confused.... Please do notice that there are no photo's of me on the "Staircase of Doom", this is not by accident.
So we FINALLY make it up the "Staircase of Doom" and Jon catches his first glimpse of Hanging Lake. He was amazed by it's clear waters and the fact that you could see all the way to the bottom. We sat and had a little rest and snack. We snapped a bunch of pictures and silently hoped that the people who would balance out on the fallen tree that stretched across the lake would fall in.... but no one did.
|This picture does NOT accurately show how bad I was dying. I honestly felt like they were going to have to call Flight for Life to get me off that Mountain!|
The trip back down the mountain did not take NEARLY as long because we were able to go almost the entire way down without stopping. We stopped twice on the way down, once to check out a super cool Mongoose that crossed the trail ahead of us. The trip down the hill was a little harder on Jon than it was on the way up. He hadn't used a lot of those muscles since his surgery and was pretty sore when we got done. Round trip took us about 3 hours. We were pretty disappointed in ourselves and resolved that NEXT year, we will hike this trail again...and be much less winded. When we got back into town we picked up our kids and headed to get some take out at our SECOND hidden gem.
I fear that sharing this second hidden gem with those of you who live in the valley will ruin the fact that it is a hidden gem.... but it's just so good I had to share. Jon and I stumbled upon this little place a few years back and we LOVE it. They use all fresh produce and ingredients, they have a SUPER clean kitchen (when you're husband works in the food industry it's kind of sad when you don't get to eat at your favorite restaraunts because he's seen their kitchen....) and the owner is one of the most genuinely nice people we have ever met. Also, we love to go out to places that you can actually have a conversation and not have to tune out the teenagers or loud mouthed person at the table next to you. This place is VERY low key and normally not very busy. The food... it's fantastic. By far the best chineese food in the Grand Junction area. It's a little place called EC's Asian Station and he's tucked away on First and Grand (next to Flyin' Roosters).
So we picked up some take-out for us, and hit the T-Bell drive thru for the kids (they're not so big on Chinese food yet) and headed home for a relaxing night in. It was absolutely perfect. More about Jon and I's seven years of marriage in the days to come... that's all for now!