Remains of a Hotel & an iPhone

A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone and, wow!  I couldn’t believe how many pictures I had on there from different trips and hikes that I hadn’t downloaded or done something with!  Once again, the slacker bug had – apparently – bitten me and I hadn’t realized it. (Sigh)

After I caught up with my post processing work from our Great Sand Dunes trip, I dug into the phone.  Turns out I had some good stuff on there.  The bonus is that it’d be good fodder for some new blog posts, this one being the first of several to come over the next few weeks.  (I love a 2-for-1!!)

The oldest shots I found were from a Thanksgiving weekend hike we took in Eldorado Canyon State Park outside of Boulder, CO last year.  (Yes, I had pictures languishing on my phone from that long ago!)

Eldorado Canyon is most well-known around the rock climbing world because there’s so many fabulous places to climb.  Very often, you’ll find packed trail heads early in the morning, hear the jangle of carabiners as the climbers hike the trails along with you, and see folks scaling the canyon walls.  While fall and winter typically bring really nice weather to Colorado, it’s usually just cold or windy enough to keep the crowds down a little from the height of summer.  For us, that means it’s the perfect time to go!

We were looking for a moderate hike to burn off our duck-instead-of-turkey twist on Thanksgiving dinner a few days prior, so we picked the Rattlesnake Gulch trail.  That trail had an extra added bonus – the remains of an old hotel that mysteriously burned to the ground in the early 1900s.

** Warning: History Ahead **

The Crags Hotel opened for business in 1908.  Located about 800 feet above the canyon floor, it (likely) had great views of the surrounding canyons, all the way down to the creek below.  It even had a funicular (a cog-railway-like tramcar) that ran from the hotel down to the creek at the canyon floor.  The hotel was destroyed in what’s been considered a mysterious fire in 1912.  Only fragments of the hotel remains today, with the largest parts being the old kitchen open fire oven and a few other small pieces of the foundation.  The area has been designated as a historic site within the park, open to any hikers who wish to wander through and check it out.

** History over… onto pictures! **

I wasn’t sure what we’d find when we got up there.  With so little of the hotel left, it would’ve been pretty easy to walk by and not notice.  The largest chunk of the hotel remaining was that kitchen oven (as advertised).  But what really caught my eye though was a large chunk of the foundation or the base of a fireplace that was littered with old timbers and pieces of glass and plates.  Add to that some awesome light hitting it at the time, and you know where my eye went when I whipped out the phone…

Crags Hotel Remains
Crags Hotel Remains
Glass & Nails
Glass & Nails

Walking around the site, I could only imagine how cool this place would’ve been for visitors in the early 1900s.  High enough that it was probably cooler than out on the Plains, with the added fun of a tramcar ride down to the crisp waters of Boulder Creek.  And the views… can’t forget the views!

The Cold Front is Coming
The Cold Front is Coming

(Admittedly, this shot was taken a little further up the trail, but it gives you an idea of how pretty it is near the Crags Hotel site.)

If you look closely in the scenery above, the clouds were coming in quickly from the east across the Plains as a cold front backed its way down through the area.  As is usually the case in Colorado when you’re hiking, we were in a bit of a race with the weather, but we managed to finish our entire hike just as the wind came howling through the canyon and the temperature dropped something like 20 degrees in an hour.  Definitely time to go home and warm up!

So there you have it – the first blog entry from the “remains” of photos on my iPhone.  I’ll be whipping up some more posts in the weeks to come as I finish wading through another photography backlog that I somehow accidentally created for myself.  (Some day I swear I’ll catch up!!)

 

-JC

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