Burro Trail in Breckenridge, Colorado

We spent a long weekend in Breckenridge, Colorado and one of our main priorities was to get out and do some hiking. Breckenridge has many options for hiking trails, so we chose one that was near where we were staying called Burro Trail. The trail is considered moderate and has some beautiful scenery, including following a stream for much of it. The overall elevation gain wasn’t too bad, although it was steep in some places, which is pretty normal for any hike in the Colorado mountains.

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Hiking Through the Woods
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Crossing a Stream on the Way to the Trailhead
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Looking Up Through the Trees
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Roots Across the Trail
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Purple Wildflowers

In order to get to the trailhead, we had to take a smaller trail that wound its way through the woods near our condominium. Although not part of Burro Trail, it was also quite beautiful, winding through meadows, woods, and crossing several streams. Once on the actual trail, we hiked through pine tree forests and saw a variety of wildflowers as well as some wild berries. The weather was absolutely perfect with mild temperatures and sunny skies. Burro Trail is an “out and back” trail that is a little over 6 miles in length if you do the entire trail. We didn’t go to the very end, but close enough to give us a good 3 1/2 hour hike.

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Wild Berries
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Hiking Along the Stream
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Getting into the Mountains
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One of the Flat Areas on the Trail
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Rushing Water

As with many trails in the mountains, we came across a few other hikers, but for the most part we were alone to enjoy the tranquility of nature. We didn’t come across any wildlife during our hike, but we were told that moose are particularly active around Breckenridge this time of year. With such beautiful scenery, Burro Trail was a perfect hike to start our time in Breckenridge. It was strenuous enough to get our legs tired and earn a couple of craft beers.

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Bridge on the Trail Before Burro Trail
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Wonderful Hike
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Water Flowing Over Rocks
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Colorful Wildflowers
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Hiking Through a Meadow

 

Ecuador – Land of Biodiversity

Ecuador is a country made up of three distinct regions, each with their own opportunities to discover. There is the coastal region, which also includes the Galapagos Islands, the highlands with the Andes mountains and all of the volcanoes, and the Amazon with the largest variety of plants and animals of any country. We did not visit the coastal region or the Galapagos Islands on this trip, but instead focused our time on the highlands and the Amazon.

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Hiking a Volcano

One thing was immediately clear upon our arrival in Ecuador, it is a country that is embracing eco-tourism. Although the country is still heavily dependent on the revenue from oil, there is a conscious effort to embrace tourism as the future of the country. Changing the currency to the US dollar in 2000 has also made it easy for visitors from the States to travel to Ecuador. Spanish is the official language of Ecuador, but there are still many indigenous people who speak Quechua, and English is commonly spoken.

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Middle of the World Monument

Our time in the highlands was highlighted by visiting three of the many volcanoes, both active and non-active, that exist in Ecuador. One of the most famous is Cotopaxi, which has been active since 2015, although fortunately it has only spewed ash and steam and not lava. The snow covered volcano peaks can be seen on clear days from the capital city of Quito and are a constant reminder to the volatility of the forces that have formed the landscape of Ecuador.

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Cotopaxi Volcano

Ecuador gets its name from the equator line, which runs through the country. Visiting the equator actually involves seeing two separate sites.  There is the equator monument, commonly referred to as the historical equator as it was originally calculated as the center of the world in 1736, but was later proven to be wrong. With the use of GPS, scientists were able to calculate the true equator, which is actually slightly north of the monument that people often visit. Going to both equator sites is worthwhile as it is interesting to learn about the history of the equator and how indigenous people were able to calculate the center of the world thousands of years ago even closer than more modern scientists.

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True Equator

The Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is considered to be the most biodiverse location on the earth with all of the varieties of birds, amphibians, insects, plants, and trees. It is run by a group of indigenous natives and even has two tribes inside of the park that have no contact with the outside world. Despite the reliance upon oil, Ecuador is trying to balance the need for drilling with the desire to protect their natural resources. Spending time in the park is something that was truly special and we will treasure forever.

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Napo Wildlife Center in the Yasuni National Park

Ecuador is a wonderful country and we enjoyed the time that we spent in the country. We didn’t have enough time on this trip to visit the Galapagos Islands, so we will definitely return sometime in the future to go to the coastal regions. Considering the variety of things to see and do in Ecuador, it is definitely a country that deserves to be visited.

Time Travel is Possible

Every now and then, you are able to go to a tourist location and visit it without any other people around you. On those rare occasions when you aren’t surrounded by a hundred people taking selfies in front of what you’ve come to see, it can be a truly memorable moment. It really gives you the opportunity to let your mind wander and imagine what it must have been like to have been there during some historical period of the past. Because we often travel during the off-season, we have been fortunate enough to have a few of these experiences.

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Walking Through the Guardhouse Entrance
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Ancient Bridge

For this week’s Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge, we decided to use photos from one of those experiences. When we went to Schloss Stolzenfels on the outskirts of Koblenz we were able to walk the castle grounds without anyone else around us. Walking through the dense forest as you climbed the path up the side of the hillside to reach the castle, it was as if we had been transported to a different time. One could easily imagine horse-drawn carriages making their way up to the castle to attend some royal event. Or perhaps a band of robbers hiding in the woods waiting for the opportunity to make off with some jewels from passing travelers.

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Walking through the Park
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Schloss Stolzenfels from the Path

It is no wonder that so many fairy tales came from the forests of the German countryside. Walking the roads and trails at night with the fear of wolves, robbers, and other mystical creatures must have been at the forefront of any travelers mind. For a couple of hours, we walked those woods and imagined what life must have been like back in the 16th century.

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Walking Through the Forest
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The Final Set of Stairs