Mountaintop Beer

And now, we time warp all the way to summer with the shots hiding on my phone – our hike up Twin Sisters in Rocky Mountain National Park.

We had a really grand plan for the day.  Left Hand is one of our favorite breweries in our town.  They make a special Double IPA beer called Twin Sisters that comes out only every other year.  When we moved in 2013, we just missed this beer, so this year was the first chance we got to have it and it’s awesome!  One night – probably after a serving of Twin Sisters – we decided we should grab a bottle of the beer and take it up Twin Sisters with us and toast with the beer on its namesakes.  Bottle purchased, plastic cups packed, and off we went a week or two later.

The hike wasn’t particularly long, but it was tough because it was really steep in some sections.  One extra complication was damage from the floods of 2013.  A massive landslide took out a good chunk of the trail about 1/3 of the way up, so hikers have to pick their way through the debris field as best as we can to safely get across the chute.  Looking down into the valley floor below, you can see how far the destruction went when the mountainside came loose.  (There were still a few hundred feet – if not more! – of slide behind us when I took the picture on the left that looks west.  You can see the full magnitude of the slide in the picture on the right in a shot I grabbed a few days ago while we were hiking up to Chasm Lake, looking back towards Twin Sisters. )

Once we got through the mudslide area, it was hiking as normal – including racing the weather rolling in for the early afternoon.  As we were getting near one of the peaks, we also saw a ranger pop up on the trail on some sort of patrol.  Dang it!  Beer on the trails in national parks are kind of a no-no, so we had to be watchful and respectful.  Between the weather and the ranger, our plan was definitely in jeopardy.

As we reached the first peak, things were starting to look good on the ranger front.  As in, the ranger was nowhere to be found!  So we went about finding a place to settle in, away from the wind and the trail, and had ourselves some lunch.  Storm clouds were close enough that we weren’t going to be able to summit the other peak, but no matter because we had one hell of a view!

Rocky Mountain National Park from Twin Sisters
Rocky Mountain National Park from Twin Sisters

After lunch, it was beer time.  As I was literally unzipping my pack to pull out the bottle (and yes, our plan was to be discreet), the ranger magically popped up again and foiled our plans.  We didn’t want to take any chances as the weather was starting to build, so we couldn’t wait him out and decided to head back down to the trailhead.  Before we did, I at least got proof in a picture that I hauled the bottle up there with the best of intent.

Twin Sisters on Twin Sisters
Twin Sisters on Twin Sisters

Once we got back to the house, we cracked that bottle open and enjoyed it.  Just too bad we couldn’t have it at the peak like we had hoped!  Maybe in 2 years we can try again when Twin Sisters is back, and have a little better luck next time.

-JC

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