Day three of my vacation began with a drive to the secluded mining town of Ashcroft, which was once booming in the 1870's thanks to a short supply of silver. The town went bust as quickly as it blossomed and all that remains are a few hollowed-out cabins storing artifacts like saddles, spoons, bottles, and the like. Branching out of Ashcroft's skeleton are several hiking trails. We picked one and followed it for an hour, marveling at the murmuring streams and the ashy white aspens, the overpopulation of adorable ground squirrels and the clearings dotted with wildflowers.
Eventually our trail led us to a restaurant nestled against the base of the mountain. Extremely overpriced (I'm assuming the view was included in the bill) and an underwhelming menu, but we were famished. After our meal we took the exhausting trek back to Ashcroft and headed back to Aspen.
A friendly employee of the inn we stayed at suggested that we visited a popular area called The Grotto, and it did not disappoint. The trail was more forested than the one by Ashcroft, and there was even more to gawk at. I lost my sunglasses to the small cliffs, but that's okay. The best part of the trail is at the baby waterfall, where you can relax and watch the water tumble over the rocks in a roaring frenzy of teal and white.
Later in the day, after returning to downtown Aspen for more shopping, we headed to Maroon Bells, the most scenic part of the mountains. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the legendary reflection due to the overcast skies. There are more trails around there as well, but they are rocky and more physically draining. We traveled up one but gave up as the sun began to set.
Our time in Aspen concluded with a gondola ride up the mountain. The peak provided yet another breathtaking view. Afterwards we said goodbye to what is undeniably one of the most beautiful spots in the country and headed for Breckenridge, which is where I type this. First we checked out the town, which is a lot like Aspen in its old-style shopping area. I spent the remainder of my money on more souvenirs. The shopping is better here; the crowds are less congested and the stores are more affordable. Once our shopping was over we ate at a nice restaurant with fair prices and wonderful food.
Our hotel room is nice, but not as homy as the one in Aspen. Tomorrow consists of rafting, though we have to drive an extra hour because the water levels here are too low thanks to the drought, and more hiking. Tuesday's plan is horseback riding, summer dog sledding, and maybe a train ride through the mountains. I'm starting to get a little bit homesick, but not too badly.
On a completely random and insignificant note, I had a dream last night that I thought was pretty damn awesome. I dreamed about this girl who was probably five years older than me. She was super pretty and had bright blue hair and tattoos. We were just...talking. About what, I don't remember. I'm fairly certain we were dating. I woke up from that dream feeling super happy and I don't know why. It was very strange.