After settling on the Colorado Springs area I came across Mueller State Park. It is a fairly new state park with over 50 miles of trails (the rangers argue with the brochures and claim 65 miles of trails). Mueller State Park is also a working wildlife preserve (translation: no dogs on the trails) and smack in the middle of black bear country (translation: doh!). I did a bunch of interwebs research and settled on a specific camp site that we would reserve for Sunday through Thursday (to avoid the weekend crowds). Now onto the trip!
Saturday night we went to bed at 8:00 PM for an early rise (we were excited, so this was not easy). At 2 A.M. we woke up and hit the road by 3 A.M. We drove in 4 hour shifts and basically saw a bunch of this:
Although we finally got to see mountains around noon (fairly exciting since we hadn't been to Colorado in decades) I didn't get to do any mountain driving until around 1 P.M. I had read all about mountain towing, engine braking, etc. and I was fairly excited to get down to it. Lucky for me our camp site was at an elevation of 9600 feet, so I got to do plenty of engine breaking and veer through some crazy mountain passes. It was a lot fun for me- Courtney might feel different.
We finally arrived at Mueller State Park around 2 P.M. Our camp site was amazing, I think we had the best camp site in the park. We were fairly secluded at the edge of the camping area and had a fabulous view of Pikes Peak:
Courtney and I had both read about altitude sickness, but I don't think either one of us expected to get headaches once we got up there. Although we both felt kinda hungover we trudged on setting up our camp site. Once we were all setup we drove around the park, checking out everyone's setup of course, and found out where everything was. We then came back to our site and prepared pork fajitas (yum):
Now at this point we knew better than to exert ourselves but we just couldn't help it! There was a trail 20 feet from our camp site called "Peak View" and we decided to check it out. Oh my... Colorado is so beautiful! Although we went on some more amazing trails, you can pretty much just look in any direction up in the mountains and see something that takes your breath away (insert obvious altitude sickness pun here) and Peaks View was no exception.
We even got to see what I believe is a mule deer on our first trail. He walked right up to us like he didn't have a care in the world.
Courtney and I even started to wonder if he was coming to kick our ass but he finally walked away- can you see him below?
Back to the altitude sickness- this trail was kind of lame compared to most (in terms of physical demand) but you would have thought we were ascending Pikes Peak the way were acting! Our hearts were beating like crazy and we were short of breath every time we went uphill. We still had fun on the walk but as soon as we were back to our camp site we quickly arranged our schedule so that the tame tourist stuff occurred over the first couple of days (and the the more psychically demanding trails got pushed back to later in the week).
We closed the night out by going to bed early. We had been up for 20 hours straight, and on just a few hours of sleep, so were pretty beat.
On a side note: Monkey isn't allowed on trails at Mueller State Park, so his first day wasn't as exciting as ours. Don't worry though, we planned some pretty fun stuff for him in the coming days.
That's it, our first day. Stay tuned for follow-up posts outlining the rest of our trip!