If you have read my previous post, you would know that the first couple of days in Boulder were just normal touristy sigh-seeing and I did not really step in to the hills. What’s the whole point of going to Colorado if one doesn’t get to do that? Luckily, Ajinkya had planned a visit to Chautauqua Park. As the name suggests, this park is at the location of Colorado Chautauqua (Chautauqua was a popular adult education movement in USA in late 19th and early 20th century) – one of the few continuously operating Chautauquas operating in USA and has been made a National Historic Landmark. The beautiful park is among the hills and is close to Chautauqua Dining Hall and Auditorium. Although the park is very close to Boulder and public bus rides are available, we did not have enough time to hike on the trails in the park; So we just wandered about the grassy terrain, soaking in the Sun and clicking pictures. Post afternoon, we wanted to be at a place called Netherland.
Netherland- gateway to outdoor recreation in the nearby wilderness areas. It’s located about 17 miles south of Boulder and again, a public bus will take you up to this hill town. Elevation of Netherland being 8234 feet, the place is cold, has really fierce winds and takes you up close to the mountains. Once can see the Great Continental Divide from this tiny (1.6 sq. miles) town as the divide passes 8 miles west of Netherland.
What I loved the most about going to Netherland was the hour or so long bus journey. Once you leave Boulder (elevation 5430 ft), the path begins to gains elevation and turns in to the kind of winding road that takes you up through the mountains. It kind of made me feel like I am back in Himalayas again, even if the landscape was not so larger than life. We landed at Netherland in an extremely strong wind and the idea of walking around the town in that biting cold made all of us very uncomfortable. All we wanted was to sneak into a cozy shop or restaurant and look at the extreme elements from the warmth of the inside.
There’s a lake in Netherland, that was frozen because of the winter season. We decided to go to the lake after our bodies have acquired enough warmth. Our first stop was a Guitar shop and a wizened old man seemed to be the owner of the shop. He was very nice to talk to and he told us what to see in Netherland and where to have coffee. It looked like apart from the lake, the only other thing to do in the town was to visit the chain of rustic arts & crafts shops lining a couple of streets. Stepping into those cozy shops, I was reminded of Nashville, which was very similar to Netherland, what with all its art, antique and specialty shops. Except a couple of souvenirs, I did not buy anything but we would check out every shop that we went into entirely, so that we could stay away from the wind as long as possible. We would then take to the street again, only to turn numb with cold in a few minutes and fining another shop to take refuge in. This went on for a while and we finally decided that it was time to visit the frozen lake.
Walking up to the lake was a long struggle through the ferocious winds. But we made it. The lake was completely frozen and since it was the first time I was seeing a big frozen lake, I was quite amazed. After few minutes of soaking in the scenery, I began clicking pictures and then we all did something that would qualify as quite unsafe and stupid. We decided to walk on the frozen surface of the lake; just to feel the thrill for a bit. Everyone walked on the surface, as per his/her level of risk taking. Somehow, we spent quite some time even though it was freezing cold around the lake.
By the time our fascination with the frozen lake was taken over by the numbness in fingers, it was almost time to go home. But it was absolutely necessary to go into a warm place first. So we went inside a coffee shop and treated our tired selves to hot coffee. What an amazing sensation it was to hold a coffee mug to feel the heat on the fingers!
It felt sure that I will be back at this place again.This was a perfect hill town stop before heading into the nearby mountains for hiking or skiing. But on that day, it was time to go home to Boulder and prepare for the last day of our trip.