What is the 14er Project?
Last July we left the 2nd Annual üCamp with nüCamp rally in Ohio and embarked on our Alaska-through-Mexico journey. It had been over a year since we spent any significant time in the state we call home.
Now that we finally had the chance to spend some time in Colorado we got to thinking about how to best use that time. Sure, we can just play in the mountains the entire time and be happy, but we wanted to get out and put our cameras to use, too!
Colorado is a state known for its 14,000+ feet tall mountains (called 14ers), of which it has over 50 of them. So, we decided to put together a photo and video project revolving around the number “14” that would both allow us to showcase parts of Colorado that we know-and-love and experience new things in our state.
Our 14er Project began with the idea to hike 14 of Colorado’s 14ers in 14 days, which would be “good enough” as a standalone project. But that wasn’t enough for us! Colorado has been experiencing a boom in craft and micro distilleries and we recently discovered the Colorado Spirits Trail—similar to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
This is where Mandy let me take over the planning and logistics. Maybe she didn’t learn her lesson when she let me plan our Grand Canyon backpacking trip and it quickly snowballed from a leisurely five-day trip to a massive 13-day adventure?
When the dust settled, our 14-day Colorado 14er Project looked like this:
- Hike 14 of the state’s 14ers
- Sip on spirits at 14 distilleries
- Drink a beer at 14 breweries
- Wake up with coffee from 14 small town coffee shops
- Enjoy 14 scenic drives
- Capture photos/videos of 14 water features like lakes, waterfalls, and rivers
- Learn about 14 native Colorado wildflowers
Day 1 of 14
On Day #1 of the project we decided to go big and feature at least one item from each of these categories. This was going to be a long day so we started with a 4AM wakeup call to get an early start on the drive to American Basin to hike our first 14er—Handies Peak (14er #1).
While descending Handies Peak we stopped at beautiful Sloan Lake (Water Feature #1) and learned a little bit about the Bistort (Wildflower #1). We drove to American Basin from Silverton via Cinnamon Pass in the dark. After the hike it was mid-day so we got to see all of the amazing views we missed in the morning. The drive over Cinnamon Pass was the perfect choice for Scenic Drive #1 of the project!
Normally, we’d be content to call it a day at this point, but we still had two distilleries, a brewery, and a coffee shop to hit all the way down in Durango! After a quick stop at Little Bear to clean up with a Shower Pouch and put on some decent clothes we headed down to Distillery #1—Honey House Distillery.
Our experience at Honey House left a lot to be desired. Luckily, the fine folks at Durango Craft Spirits (Distillery #2) were there deliver our first great distillery experience of the project! We got to meet the owner and his wife and had such a great experience here that we decided to buy a bottle of their Cinder Dick Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey to celebrate the beginning of the project.
At this point, we’d been awake for 14 hours and were starting to fade. Nothing a classic Americano at Magpies Newsstand Café (Coffeeshop #1) couldn’t fix!
Now, it was time for the grand finale! If you’re a beer fan then no trip to Durango is complete without a visit to Ska Brewing Company (Brewery #1)—a staple in Durango for 24 years! The food here is great and the beer is even better! Ska gave us a chance to meet up with my old friend from Boulder, Michele, and fellow nüCampers, Meme and Michael.
Not bad for Day #1…
Info & Links for Day 1 Travels:
(click for more info)
Fourteener 1/14: Handies Peak
Water Feature 1/14: Sloan Lake
Approximately 2 miles up the Handies Peak trail, you’ll find a small split off of the trail on your right leading to this beautiful lake.
Wildflower 1/14: Bistort
Scenic Drive 1/14: Cinnamon Pass
Distillery 1/14: Honey House Distillery
Distillery 2/14: Durango Craft Spirits
Durango Craft Spirits is the first grain-to-glass distillery in Durango since prohibition, offering 3 great spirits: a moonshine, a vodka, and a bourbon. You can also find them on the Colorado Spirits Trail.
Coffee Shop 1/14: Magpies Newsstand & Cafe
Our first small-town coffeeshop was Magpies. It’s a great alternative to the big chain shops, plus they have ice-cream!
Brewery 1/14: Ska Brewing
Ska Brewing is a must-stop in Durango for all beer lovers. Arrive hungry and try their food while sitting on the outdoor patio!
Images from Day 1:
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