The first stop on Wednesday was Garden of the Gods. I was here when I was about 7 years old but remembered nothing about it until I saw Steamboat Rock. Then I just remembered that one rock. We took a short hike here on the Ute Trail and readily noticed the thinner atmosphere.
From GotG we headed through Cañon City to Royal Gorge. I was disappointed to see a lot of touristy crap and a gate where they charge $26 admission. We found a weakness in their defenses and got in for free, then walked to the other end of the bridge and back.
Then it was on to Salida where we got settled. 2 people stayed in the Simple Lodge while 3 others stayed at the Heart of the Rockies Campground with me.
3 of us headed west to hike up to Waterdog Lakes as a warm-up. The trail climbs from 10200 to about 11475 feet over a couple miles. We were only out about a half hour before turning back due to rain and shortness of breath. We’d given our bodies the message that it better start acclimating.
It was only 2 or 3 miles further west to Monarch Pass so we decided to go see what there was to see and then headed back to call it a night.