One of the many highlights of the trip to Colorado came on Sunday. We (Barbara, Carl, Kim and I) pulled out of Golden around 2:30 PM, having had a nice lunch at a grill downtown. The way we ended up driving to Aspen was through back country, via Leadville and Independence Pass (which crosses the Continental Divide, as evidenced below).
Shortly after passing through Leadville (a wonderful looking town we want to go back to visit), we began driving through the most amazing countryside — an enormous valley nestled between the high mountains and cut across by highway and a rail line. Large ranches seemed to abut the tracks and the afternoon sun coupled with storm clouds in the distance simply took my breath away (the altitude didn’t help there, either…). I guess the description would be high plains for the area.
The road then began another of its gradual runs up into the clouds, with one stretch passing a mine. Ahead of us, we saw signs for elk jerky, and decided to stop at the truck and awning setup at the side of the road. The owner came out of the truck in winter gear, which made us realize it was cold up there. We’d been in the car all afternoon and when we stepped out, it was downright teeth-chatteringly cold.
The owner ended up being a really helpful man, letting us try a multitude of flavors, including several types of elk, salmon and buffalo. We spent a bit of money there, and I just have to say — I’ve never tasted anything quite like the smoked elk jerky. It practically melted in your mouth. The going joke became “elf jerky” for it, as we were all a bit giddy from the altitude (well, I was…).
I’m saddened today, as we just finished up the spicy elk jerky. I went over to the Climax Jerky site where you can order some, and believe me, I will at some point. Trust me, you’ll like it.
An hour or so later we made it up to the top of Independence Pass, where the picture above was taken by Carl for us. I was in shorts, a t-shirt and sandals when I stepped out of the car, and holy crap, it had to be in the forties. It was reeeeallly cold! The views were spectacular, making it worth being frozen and out of breath. I don’t think I’ve ever been outside so high before — we were over 12,000 feet — and it was something I’ll remember for a long time. The picture below simply doesn’t do it justice, but it’ll have to do.