The Great Train Adventure: Glenwood Springs

Last night, we finally made it to the Best Western Antlers after a ten-minute trek from the train station (a nice, quiet, exhausted walk through a tiny town, complete with a passenger bridge over the Colorado River).

Woke up this morning, picked up our rental car, had a sub-mediocre waffle breakfast (Best Western’s finest), and headed out to Hanging Lake.  This is reportedly one of Colorado’s most popular hikes, and with good reason:  it’s only 2 miles long (though you gain 1,000 feet in that first mile up); it’s strenuous without being challenging; and it leads up to a lake with crystal-blue water and multiple waterfalls.

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We took the trail at a good clip, though we often had our way blocked by other hikers.  Lots of people here!  But it was beautiful.  Here’s Hanging Lake itself:

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This is Spouting Rock, a waterfall 200 feet up from the lake that rushes straight out of a high rock wall:

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On our trip back down, we stopped at Bridal Veil Falls:

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Lunch was an incredible find:  an authentic Polish restaurant.  Called Polanka, it served excellent pierogies, stuffed cabbage rolls, and sauerkraut.

Unfortunately, we have no pictures from our afternoon excursion:  a rafting trip down a small section of the Colorado River down through Glenwood Canyon.  The trip runs through the deep canyon from Shoshoe (about nine miles west of town) to the western end of Glenwood Springs.  We have no pictures because I’m not sure a phone would’ve survived the trip.

This was a beginners’ rafting trip; no one in our boat of seven people, save for our guide, had any significant rafting experience.  Yet our guide, Red — quickly nicknamed “Dynasty” by our group for his Duck Dynasty beard and long hair — took us into what felt like some pretty significant class IV rapids.

We were wet, and the adrenalin was pumping, within minutes.  Of course, Prescott and I had volunteered to take the front seat.  This made us the first pair to get smacked by the spray.  The river was running both high and fast, so the rafts really moved along at the top of the run (which is where the biggest and craziest rapids were located).  It was scary and exhilarating and wonderful

For the bottom two-thirds of our trip, we largely had a chance to sit back and enjoy the views of the canyon walls rising up all around us.  I took the offer to dive in at one point — my first Colorado River swim!  We were also entertained by our guide, who switched back and forth from professor (“these hot springs in the middle of the river bubble up here from channels that have their origins all the way down at the mountains near Aspen”) to terrible comedian (“What do you call a cow with no legs?  Ground beef.).

We ran some errands and then went to an excellent dinner (more Colorado bass and a wonderful gnocchi salad) at the Pullman in rainy Glenwood Springs.  It’s right across the street from the train station, which overlooks the train tracks, the Colroado and the historic Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge.

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After dinner, we went to the enormous motel hot tub, where I finally felt warmed up after the afternoon’s chilly river jaunt.  Then we returned to our room to watch Netflix and try marijuana for the first time (well, it’s finally legal, at least according to the great state of Colorado– sorry if we’re shocking anyone here).  We had bought taffy at a dispensary — so we chewed it up, made faces at the vile flavor, and waited for something to happen.  Nothing did.  So I’m still not sure what all the fuss is about — but that’s just as well, because it looks like it could be a pretty expensive habit.

You may not see our next blog appear in its regularly-scheduled time slot.  If Amtrak runs on time (hah!), then we’ll be on a train and unable to post anything from 2:00pm until 11:00 CST.  So it’s possible that tomorrow’s blog will come a day late.

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