The Rockies: A Weekend at Estabrook

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A weekend at Estabrook is always a treat. I feel so lucky that I get to enjoy such a great place with my friends and family. This year included some new faces with the old. Kristin joined me again, though her husband Justin couldn’t make it because he is in flight school. A new friend Suman, who is a travel addict like me, joined with her friend Debbie. And two of the boys, Harlow and Brian, from the Thursday night crew got to join in the fun.

After a continental style breakfast, we ventured toward the Bear’s Cave. I feel like I’ve hiked this trail almost every day I’ve been to Estabrook, and it never gets old. The Bear’s Cave is the most peaceful place in the world to me.

We started down the road, past the barn, made a quick stop in the black smith shop, and then continued to the Pines where we crossed the bridge and followed the overgrown trail to one of our old campsites. Here we took a detour up an old logging road through a field of wildflowers with my favorite being the mariposa lily to Eagle Rock. Eagle Rock offers a magnificent view of green roofed houses situated 300 feet below in the lush valley.

After a shorter breather, we backtracked to the trail, and followed one another in single file with Marley, Harlow’s golden retriever, brushing against our side while trading the lead. We passed by another old campsite before we reached one of the few remaining 30 year old bridges. The rest have been washed out and rebuilt over time. I suggested we cross the bridge, with a few rotted planks, one at a time, though I failed to warn to walk in the middle of the bridge over the log supporting it.

Four of us made it across before Suman stepped to left of one of the planks which popped up. In slow motion, we watch Suman splash into the cold water of Craig Creek. The boys were quick to react and help her out. Thankfully, she didn’t sport more than a bruise, a few scratches and some wet clothes. The only casualty was a lost water bottle. Even her phone still worked! We were only about 2 miles into the hike and had about 4 more miles to go…Suman was a trooper to squish squash along in her wet shoes the rest of the way.

We enjoyed another short rest at the Bear’s Cave as we admired the rock formations overhanging the trail as well as the mossy vegetation. We continued the less dangerous bridge crossings all the way up to the hanging bridge which led us through a large crevice. Eventually we reached Johnson’s Gulch, crossed the creek, and followed the logging road back to the house.

Fortunately, the afternoon was slightly overcast, as the road can be rather hot and sunny. I misinformed the group when I claimed there wasn’t much climbing. I remembered it as being undulating, but at times the road’s loose scree and grade made it seem like the 500 feet of elevation gain was a touch more. After reaching the summit of the mountain behind the house, we turned down another logging road to finish our loop hike just in time for lunch on the front porch while we watched the hummingbirds fight for sugar water.

The afternoon called for a few of us to stroll along the Platte and look for railroad spikes. We actually found a whole, perfectly straight one…a rare occasion. The afternoon called for the half to take a nap! It was that kind of day though…just about the time for rain.

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A weekend at Estabrook wouldn’t be complete without taco night. My mom’s tacos are the best, and of course they must be served with the Bartarita…Bart’s famous margarita…oh soooo good! We capped off the night with S’mores and Oh Hell…a fun card game, a high school friend taught me. Brian won by a slim margin.

Bartarita night is usually followed by a leisurely bacon and egg morning. This Sunday was no exception. Suman and Debbie did the honors of cooking. Afterward, the girls wanted to learn to fly fish. Given Bart taught me at a tender age, mostly by feel, trying to show people how to fish is not my strong suit. Lucky for me, they didn’t care if they caught anything, they just wanted to try it out. It was more like an exercise in entertainment than anything, though I will say, there was hope with a little more time and a few more tries. I needed Chas, my expert fishing guide friend, to be there, but he and Ellen were arriving at 4 and my weekend guests dispersed back to Denver around noon.

Chas and Ellen arrived in the next afternoon thunderstorm, the consistent theme of the summer. After happy hour which included Triscuits and cheese and the beer Chas brewed, we settled in for a tournament of Settlers of Catan. The girls took all three games, so I suspect Chas will want a rematch soon. Our chicken and pasta dinner was quick and better than expected. We were all set for Tanya to arrive tomorrow for some more hiking adventures. ETB


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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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