Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Trip to the Mountains: Hiking and Relaxation

Time to finish my recaps of the Colorado Honeymoon.

We won a trip out to Colorado
Traveled through the mountains to get to the resort.
Toured Devil's Thumb Ranch.

We woke up to our first full day in Colorado to this view:

Definitely not bad.  The view was awesome, but waking up at 5am on my vacation was not ideal.  Oh well, who can complain when that is what you wake up to.  

Anyways, the plan for the day was to do some hiking around the 5,000 acre property.  

First though we headed to breakfast at Heck's Tavern.  One thing I have not mentioned yet, was that Devil's Thumb Ranch was a green resort.  They received the EPA Award for Responsible Development and Historic Preservation, and has committed to only building on 80 acres.  According to their website these are the other ways they are trying to limit their impact on the environment:

- All of our buildings are heated with the earth’s own geothermal heat, which reduces our dependence on
natural gas and electricity. (It also feels mighty nice on your toes after a day of skiing.)
- We use dual flush toilets in our lodge rooms to conserve water.
- We use florescent bulbs extensively to conserve energy.
- Much of the interior trim wood in our lodge is beetle-kill lodgepole pine.
- Many of our floors are reclaimed spruce wood - the floors in Heck’s Tavern are from standing-dead
Douglas Fir. (Lessens the fire danger, and looks great, too!)
- The rock on all building exteriors and on the fireplace in Heck’s Tavern in our lodge is from a local landslide.
- We recycle whenever possible, both in-house and by encouraging our guests to do so by providing multiple recycling centers around the Ranch.
- In our cabins, catalytic converters on fireplaces reduce emissions.
- Our bath towels are made with a micro-cotton that takes 20% less time to dry in a commercial dryer.
- All our wastewater is either reclaimed or returns to the ground and surface water supply as clean as it was before use thanks to a specially designed sand filtration system.
- We use all natural, organic and biodegradable cleaning and spa products.
- Clothing carried in our retail areas come from companies who use sustainable materials and organic materials.
- Our restaurants use organic, sustainable and locally grown meats and produce whenever possible.
- Our Broad Axe Barn facility is a reclaimed Civil-War era barn that was moved here and rebuilt piece-by-piece.
- We change linens only every third day unless specifically requested by our guests, conserving water and energy. -Towels are changed every other day unless by guest request.

I thought this was all pretty cool when I read this before the trip, but wondered if it was a luxury kind of place or if we were going to be living in no electricity cabins with limited water use.  Lucky for me, this wasn't the case and Devil's Thumb was able to perfectly mix being a luxury resort and environmental friendly.

Back to my point - breakfast.  Where I was going with this rant was to tell you about the food.  As mentioned above it was organic and local food, which lead to a small selection on the menu but delicious food!  Breakfast was such a luxury.  I wish I could remember what exactly we ate but I am pretty sure I chowed down too fast to think twice.  Since breakfast was included in our winnings, we ate a gourmet breakfast at Heck's every morning (also because it was the only restaurant on the property to get breakfast at!).

After breakfast I really wanted to do some yoga.  On the itinerary of activities booklet dropped off in our room daily, the said they had morning yoga complimentary at the spa for guests staying at the resort.  I was pumped, the hubby definitely was less excited.  However, I convinced him to come with me.  When we got there, it turned out that we were the only people (the resort was starting to clear out a bit being it was a Sunday).  So we got our own private yoga lesson.  It was very calming and challenging at the same time

(Both Pictures taken from Devil's Thumb Ranch Website)

After the nice yoga workout to stretch us out, we loaded up on Gatorades and supplies for an afternoon hike.  The guide at the activities center was helpful in helping us pick a route.  He let us know which paths he would recommend for beginners like us, and what to look out for. 

We don't normally do hiking and outdoorsy stuff like this, so it was quite the adventure!

We started out on the easy trail

And just enjoyed the beautiful sights and the mountains around us
Following our guides recommendation we decided to take a more difficult path.  It was definitely more challenging - smaller pathways and greater inclines.

But boy was it worth it!  We took a break on a bench up at the top to catch our breath.

Devil's Thumb Ranch - At the top of the mountain from Sarah Pickel on Vimeo

That was high enough for us to climb, so we took the the downhill trails for the rest of our hike.  We were told there were mountain lions in this area and you could see the scratch marks on the trees, but the only animals we ran into were annoying horse flies.
The trails took us all the way around the other side of the resort so we were able to see the horse stables and private cabins.

By the end of the hike, we had been out for about 4 hours, gone through all out Gatorade, and were a bit sunburned.  Not to mention completely exhausted.  We rested up for a bit, showered, and then got dressed up for our fancy dinner.
As a part of our winning we got to have one romantic dinner at the Ranch House Restaurant, which is located on the property.  We both were so exhausted that I was not interested in drinking any wine, which they had an amazing selection.  Our waiter looked at us crazy when we ordered waters and cokes, but that sun and long hike really wore me out.  We decided to indulge and went with the whole salad, dinner, and dessert.  It was amazing!!  We each had a different salad, but both got the Beef Tenderloin, and shared the award winning "Devil's Thumb" chocolate dessert.  It was crazy to see how much the bill was but we just charged it to the room like we were told, and felt thankful for the opportunity to have such a great opportunity!

We just spent the evening relaxing, playing games downstairs in the arcade room, and watching movies in the movie theater.

The next day we made sure to close the shades so we could sleep in.  This was our lazy day.  We had spa treatments booked at the spa as a part of our package.  They told me that we could get there as early as we wanted, and could enjoy the facilities all day.

We took them up on that offer and checked it out.  In each of the locker rooms they had aromatherapy rooms, sauna rooms, all kinds of lotions and products, and an amazing rainfall shower.  Since it was our honeymoon, we didn't want to spend too much time apart in the locker rooms.  So we relaxed in our robes reading magazines in the relaxation room and sitting out by the hot tub.

The spa services were just amazing.  We were pampered with a couples buttermilk bliss soak and then an 80 minute couples Mountain Essences Massage.  Then to top it off, we were treated with a glass of wine and gourmet cheese plate which we enjoyed out in the hot tub after.

That was pretty much how our day went, plus a little pool and sauna time.

We woke up the next day, packed up, and were off on our way to the airport.  It all seemed like a dream, and the whole time I was waiting to realize it wasn't sure.  Every charge we sent to our room I was afraid of seeing on our bill.  In the end we ended up paying $30 in room charges and for the taxes on our rental car.  Not bad trip at all!

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