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Maroon Bells Wilderness - Day 9

Despite our bad camping spot, we woke up relatively well rested. We knew this would be our last day of hiking, after which we would spend some time exploring Aspen and the rest of Colorado. We reached the trailhead after a few hours. However, from there we still had to hike back to the nearest bus stop. That involved climbing uphill in the scorching heat for more than an hour before descending almost equally long. In the end we made it though. It had been a tougher hike then I had intended, but Diane had held up well and the views had been great. It didn't take much effort to smile for the finish photo.

white river national forest
aspen ski slopes in the summer

Last year we ended up in Leavenworth after our hike, a crazy town that was built to mimic a Bavarian village and has the world's largest nutcracker museum. This year we expected to arrive in a normal ski town, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

There was no one in the village that was not between 25 and 40 years old and either a 1) yoga fanatic, 2) trail runner, or 3) mountainbiker. Everyone also had tattoos and was scarcely dressed in bright-colored sportive hipster clothes. After having our first real meal in a week and calling our parents, we walked through the village. Nothing there seemed real. There was a trail run taking place, stands selling banana bread and healing crystals, a deer walking in the middle of the street, and a huge tent with hundreds of people joining what can best be described as a yoga concert. There were two electric violin players, a huge screen with mystical symbols, a DJ, and two people shouting made up words. The yoga concert was a bit too much for us, so we went to buy ice cream. The coconut milk-based avocado flavor sounded good, but instead I went for rosemary grapefruit sorbet. 

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yoga concert

After exploring the village, we took a bus to Aspen. We were looking forward to this, as it's such a well-known town. We quickly found out there was nothing to do there, as there were only expensive boutique stores there. While we were walking around, a guy dressed like a cowboy jumped out of his car and started talking to us. He said he liked that we didn't look like all the rich tourists and said we could camp behind the post office if we wanted. We talked a bit more about our hike before saying goodbye. Another guy recommended that we buy lemonade at a specific store. As it was a million degrees out, that sounded like a good idea. While Diane was busy ordering, an employee of the store offered me free ice cream and cookies. The lemonade was good as well. As there was little else to do in Aspen, we decided to travel to Glenwood Springs.

aspen in the summer
aspen bus stop

Glenwood Springs turned out to be a quite large town in the middle of nowhere. There was absolutely nothing to do but, similar to Aspen, people had somehow decided that everything needed to be super expensive. When hiking in the Alps or Pyrenees, even the smallest towns have a cheap campsite with a shower, a bar, and a small store. It is often also possible to walk from village to village. Here, however, were only basic yet expensive hotels and you couldn't get anywhere without a car. There were at least 6 hotels but the cheapest room we could find was $360 excluding fees. They were also all sold-out. After calling several places, we found the last free room in the Glenwood Springs. We were almost happy with our $260 stay.

Before going to sleep, we made arrangements to go white water rafting the following day and ate dinner at a Chili's, which was the most stereotypical American place I have visited thus far. I also bought a cheap new set of clothes so I wouldn't smell too much in the bus we had to take after our rafting trip.