Monday, June 17, 2013

Our Glenwoods Springs Adventure Part 2

         After we hiked the beautiful Hanging Lake in Glenwood Springs, CO, we decided to head back home on the famous Independence Pass. Turns out this pass is only about an hour from where we live. The state (or county or whomever is in charge of this kind of stuff) *tries* to get it opened (remove snow & stuff to make is passable) by Memorial Day weekend. Since it's located in CO, it's  subject to snow at the most random times of the year.
        I'm not sure why this pass is so famous besides the fact that it's the highest paved (that's right-some passes are *not* paved. It's just dirt & rocks here in rugged, CO) pass in Colorado. It's also pretty treacherous. That's right-a friend & her family attempted to ascend, but then chickened out. After their descent, they inquired about the pass at a local restaurant, only to hear that a lot off people die & are hospitalized each year for falling off the pass. Oops. Also, the road gets trimmed down to one lane for a quarter mile. It's the longest quarter mile of your life, too.
       Now, I don't know about you, but Hubby's the better driver between the two of us, so he's often on the driver's side. If you've ever driven (or rode) up a mountain pass, you'll notice that the driver's side of the vehicle is significantly farther from the edge than the passenger's side. Talk about causing panic. Though I trust Hubby's driving ability (I was riding with him, after all), I can't seem to deny my over-active imagination. Needless to say, I almost had a heart attack when we drove up the pass from Aspen, CO.  (Hubby has a mild fixation with Google maps and the "street view". This was good, because we could "preview" the pass before we drove it. However, I do not remember the "one lane" part, or the fact that we would be hanging off the side of the mountain the entire time.)
      When you are on the passenger side of a vehicle that is just about hanging off the edge of a mountain with a very steep drop (mountain passes tend to go up before they go down), you start to panic. And close your eyes. Then open them again to "help" the driver watch for possible collisions (my Dad always said, "it's not you, it's them I'm worried about"). I also tried to snap some shots in between my silent screams. I know people who have a fear of heights or falling are told to not look down, but really, I don't think you can appreciate the true beauty of a mountain pass unless you do look down. So I did. Then I shut my eyes. Then I looked again. It was an arduous process.
      For a good part of the trek, there was a nice little rail guard-you know-to slow you down a bit and let you know you that you are indeed falling off the side of a mountain. This quickly became my bff and we silently converse. I thanked it for being there and helping us not fall off the mountain. Because I was lucky enough to be on the passenger side, I could not see any "extra" road on the side of me. I was convinced that we were just teetering on the edge & my extra weight on that side would most certainly tip us over. If I had been thinking with a clear head, I would have just moved into the seat that sits safely behind hubby. But alas, that was not my fate.
     Needless to say, like most folks who drive up the pass, we made it safely to the top, where we were met with tons of snow. I was wearing my flipflops (I had trashed my Vibrams during the Hanging Lake adventure, so they and my socks needed a good cleaning. Since I had intended to wear my Vibrams for my run & the hike, I brought my flipflops {I also meant to bring my "church shoes" but they decided they too needed a vaca and stayed home} & Vibrams) and almost ended up with frostbite due to walking in the snow with just flipflops on. I know, insane, but I think it was well worth the short hike to get a pic of the top of Independence Pass.
     Unbeknownst to us, the opposite side of the pass was shorter and far less treacherous than the Aspen side. I think that if we ever want photos of the pass again, we'll just stick with using the Twin Lakes side of the pass. Here are some photos of the road up, the top and the road down. Enjoy!

Pretty sure they used sidewalk chalk to mark these lines!

              This guardrail was my bff!!!

                     Top of the pass!!!

                        So excited we survived!!!

    You can see part of the pass when you go up the pass!


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