Day 23 (Aug. 3rd): KICKIN' IT IN
Glenwood Springs By Night
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Though suffering only minimal effects from my gallivanting the night before, my “bonus” day here in Glenwood Springs did get something of a late start. In needing to vacate the private room, I had to prepare a strategy for staying in the dorm-style room tonight, which required some different unpacking and re-packing of the trailer. That accomplished, I walked down into town again and enjoyed a hearty breakfast at a sidewalk café. In the excellent camping store across the street, I saw much of the equipment I had purchased already, and also a different low-sodium Backpacker Pantry item that I did not currently have but elected not to buy (as I’ve got enough dinner items already). I was disappointed that the barber shop was closed, as I needed a cut, but then I realized that it was Sunday so it was understandable. I walked across the bridge over the river, watching rafts pass below me and, on the other side, seeing the big outdoor pool that gives the town its name.

I returned to the hostel and prepared to leave for the hike to Hanging Lake. I wanted some ice to put in the water backpack, but the 7-11 only had 20-lb. bags, far more than I needed for today. So I grabbed “Double Gulp” cup (capacity: 64 oz.), filled it with ice, and prepared to pay the price of a drink for it. The kid behind the counter gave me a dismissive look, said, “Dude, it’s a cup of ice,” and made no motion whatsoever to charge me. For the consideration I left a buck on the counter anyway, for him to do with what he wished. And although neither of us could know it at the time, when I stopped in the following morning to purchase the big bag of ice for the travels over the road, the poor guy would be in there for the day shift, obviously hung-over like you read about.

Down here at “only” 5,700 ft. -- and without the trailer burdening it -- the ST1100 was pulling like an absolute freight train, at any speed, in any gear. Lasering back east through the I-70 corridor, I stopped to take a few pictures which capture the spirit of the engineering that went into its construction, but which also fall somewhat short of the drama further to the east where the canyon walls are even steeper and closer to the river and the road.

Putting the bike’s dimensions to their fullest use in securing a parking spot right near the start of the path, I learned that the hike up to Hanging Lake begins with about a quarter-mile walk alongside the river. Along this stretch the highway has dived into a tunnel so one hears just muted sounds of road traffic in the distance, and only the railroad right of way is present, on the other side of the river. The trail itself climbs 1,500 feet vertically in its 1.2 mile length. Perhaps two minutes into my ascent, the sound of a train approaching and passing by caught my attention, but from where I was I could not see it, only hear it! There was a little creek tumbling down alongside the trail for the entire way.

I was glad I had purchased a pair of cargo pants pretty much for this exact type of gig (although even at size 33, they were too loose on my recently slimmed-down waistline) because they allowed me to securely carry many items without any of the pockets feeling overstuffed. The formations of the valley walls were impressive on the way up, which -- occasionally bounding past slower-moving folk as if a young mountain lion -- took me 34:30 to complete. It had become much steeper for the last hundred yards or so, but the payoff was worth it, as Mark and Jane had promised it would be.

The lake was a crystal-clear pool of blue water within its own little shelf in the side of the rock wall, fed by the Bridal Veil Falls tumbling down through the trees above. Fish were easily visible in the water, a Stellar's Jay dropped in for a look, and a fearless chipmunk darted about, hoping for a morsel from a few folks lunching nearby. As scenic as the spot was, there was more to come, as a brief walk up and around the Falls to the left brought me to the aptly-named Spouting Rock.

Here the water came falling down through the air from several places directly out of the rock face above. There was room to walk behind the falls and look out, and the air temperature was noticeably cooler than down at the lake just a hundred yards down. One could also follow the fallen water as it made its way down and became Bridal Veil Falls, as this view of the lake from above will attest.

Hiking back down somehow took longer than going up, possibly due to more picture-taking but also due to fear of the height and steepness of the trail, less noticeable when one is climbing than when one is descending. Most of the parking lot had emptied out by the time I returned, which meant that the other folks must have spent much less time up at the top than I did, but it also meant that the area was very quiet in the afternoon sun and made it difficult to want to leave. Eventually doing so, on the ride back I made sure to record evidence that the South doesn’t have a lock on oddly-named places.

The local theatre was showing the latest “Batman” movie, which I wanted to see, but I allocated time to dining and website updating instead. I stopped in at the Bayou Restaurant, which I had walked by a few times in my travels, and opted for a variety of Cajun-influenced appetizers together as a dinner. The food hit the spot, the manager and bartender were friendly fellows, and the visit didn’t take very long either. Several hours later I turned into bed in the bottom bunk in the foreground of the left-hand side of this room. Dorm-style living for The Chief (tm)! Also the first time that the date of my wedding had come around since getting divorced -- wow.

Rafts Floating on the White River

Glenwood Springs Spa

I-70 Glenwood Corridor Eastbound

I-70 Glenwood "Shelf" Roadways

Road-Free at River Level

Hanging Lake

Bridal Veil Falls

Fish in the Pool

Stellar's Jay

Chippy Chipmunk

Spouting Rock, Pt. I

Spouting Rock, Pt. II

View From Behind Spouting Rock

View From Above Hanging Lake Height at Top of Trail Hang On to That Railing! No Name! Dorm-Style Room