Good for the Soul

Spent the last year
Rocky Mountain way
Couldn’t get much higher
Out to pasture
Think it’s safe to say

– Rocky Mountain Way – a Joe Walsh song

It is well known that Joe Walsh was a member of the Eagles rock band but less well known that this American musician joined the New Zealand band Herbs and played and sang on a number of the band’s songs released in 1990. The song Rocky Mountain Way was Walsh’s tribute to the time he spent living in Colorado.

Tammy and Glenn have some lovely friends in Boulder who own a small cabin near Silverthorne high in the Rocky Mountains. An hour and a half due west of Boulder along the I70 this small mountain town is smack bang in the middle of the Rockies’ skifields, the most famous being Vail. Aspen is another two hours west. We were very kindly offered the use of this cabin for a few days.

Eddie and Kerry’s cabin in the Rocky Mountains

The Interstate 70 or I70 is a 2,151 mile ( 3,462 km) major four-lane highway that runs from west Utah to Baltimore, Maryland in the east. It passes through the major cities of Denver, Topeka, Kansas City, St Louis (done those), Indianapolis, Columbus and Pittsburgh and is the fifth longest in the USA. It is also a nightmare of cars, trucks, campers and motorcycles (remember we are in summer break now). It is the quickest route to Silverthorne but having all the time in the world we avoided it where we could and took most of the journey on Highway 93 from Boulder to Golden then US Route 6. Route 6 meanders along Clear Creek finally linking with the I70 at the Eisenhower Tunnel (1.7 miles which takes the I70 under the continental divide) a few miles before Silverthorne. Lets be clear. Clear Creek is not a creek and the beautifully sunny day we passed alongside it was filled with fly fishers, kayakers and rafting groups. In fact, rafting seemed to be a main tourist driver with large groups of teenagers and others gathered on the roadside with their rafts or on the water battling the rapids. Biking and hiking are a big thing in Colorado too. Why not? There are endless bike paths (we are talking gravelled and sealed here!) throughout the mountain passes and river valleys. Rock climbing is popular as well. Access to these activities is made easy with major sealed roads right up to the trail heads and bike paths. This part of central Colorado we know quite well is just one big summer outdoor pursuits centre and winter skifield. High altitude golf courses abound where your 180 metre drive goes 250 and spectacular mountain views encase the fairways and greens. “Why haven’t we moved here?” you say. Well the AUD hovers at US 0.70 cents, good housing starts at around USD 1.5 million and there is the little matter of a visa. Otherwise we would be here tomorrow. In fact, we are here tomorrow and in a lovely lakeside cabin near the mountain town of Silverthorne.

Silverthorne is a small mountain town of about 4,000 people that sits at the base of Mount Buffalo, Red Mountain and Mount Silverthorne some 8,731 feet ( 2,661m ) above sea level. But its beauty lies in the mountains and spectacular wilderness and wildlife that surround it. We hiked the trails along the Blue River which runs through the town centre and enjoyed encounters with moose, deer and the red hawks and bald eagles that ride the valley’s thermals.

A small town built on prospecting has grown into a popular skifield with the building of numerous condominiums. It is small beer though besides the internationally renowned and visited nearby ski resorts of Breckenridge, Vail and Aspen. We spent a day walking the summer trails of Breckenridge. The gondola transports summer visitors to the ski field resorts, now devoid of snow and the chairlifts offer hikers and mountain bikers transport to the trails and meadows higher up the mountain slopes. No doubt this is overwhelmed in winter. In early summer it is still popular with people enjoying the glorious views and activities which are so easily accessible.

Breckenridge ski resort and hiking trails

The 18th at Vail Golf Club – 8,140 feet or 2,484 metres above sea level. Mt Ruapehu is 9,177 feet.

Vail is well known as an international ski resort with a permanent population of around 4,800 people. Vail Ski Resort is the largest ski mountain in Colorado and is renowned for its hotels and enclosed village which has an air of European architecture and atmosphere. But there is an interesting history here. The US Army 10th Mountain Division trained in the mountains nearby before being posted to Italy during World War Two. Former members of the 10th Mountain, many wounded and recuperating, returned to Vail after the war and worked to open a ski resort on land they purchased at the base of Mount Vail. The first ski season opened in December 1962 and the village grew with new lodgings, restaurants and boutiques into the international resort it is today.

Vail – resort hotels and village square

Unfortunately, time was against us, so we were forced to leave Aspen for another day.

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