Another early start, but this time to get to the Balloon Festival’s launch field before sunrise. Stepping outside the air was snappy, fresh and pure, the sky a very pale blue with a touch of pinky-orange peeking out from behind the mountains – and other than me, everything seemed completely quiet and still. When I got to the field, it was an altogether different scene, with masses of people and balloons gearing up for the day ahead, so I wandered around to take it all in. It wasn’t until about 7.30am that the first balloons began to take off, adding to the hubbub of the colourful scene.
A hot air balloon ride has always been firmly on my bucket list, and today I was lucky enough to tick it off. For 45 minutes I drifted up in the crisp mountain air looking out at the melange of brightly patterned silks and the endless views beyond, the sound of people below replaced by moments of silence that were then punctuated by the roar of fire to keep us moving. Our landing was, like most balloon rides, in an unplanned spot in someone’s backyard along Snowmass Valley. There’s a traditional ceremony after going up in a hot air balloon, so naturally I had to honour my captain’s wishes and drink a glass of champagne as part of this.
If I hadn’t had enough of a ‘high’ for one day, I then hopped aboard the gondola and headed up to get some mega 360 degree views over Snowmass and the Maroon Bells. Back down in the village I wandered around and was struck by the attention to detail everywhere here. All the signs have such interesting graphics, even areas of development, and it all seems to go hand in hand with the pride that the people of Snowmass take over their beautiful hometown.