Since I’ve been messing around with my photos as of late and actually posted to the site, I hopped out of lazy mode and decided to post the pictures I took while visiting the Rocky Mountain National Park last March. And, with the pics, I have to also and tell my story.
A business trip took me to Comcast in Denver. Business only lasted a couple of days; I took the remainder of the week/weekend to adventure around some of the parks in Colorado. I got everything done, work-wise, by Thursday. I went a few places outside Denver — Colorado Springs & The Rocky Mountain National Park to name a few of the big ones.
I got up Friday at 4:30 in the morning and hit the road towards the Rocky Mountain National Park. I had planned on entering the park near the entrance in Estes, Colorado at sunrise; from there I was going to drive to a trail head at Bear Lake and hike a mile or so into the mountains to Emerald Lake. All went as planned. I made it to the park just as the sun was rising. It was so early, the entrance wasn’t even manned by rangers yet, so I saved my $30 entrance fee. I drove a few miles into the park… There were Elk feeding. It was beautiful. After a half hour of driving, I finally made it to the Bear Lake trail.
On the trail, I hit ~11,000 feet at the highest point and hiked about 3 miles round-trip around the Rockies before all was said and done. I’ll remember to take snow shoes if and when I ever go to the Rockies in winter next time! I knew I should have, but I wasn’t going to buy a pair for this one trip. I followed the “path,” if you could call it that. You couldn’t see any clear sign of a trail. Best I could do was stay on the hard-pack. Being there in the morning and it being 30 degrees was more important than I thought as the day went on, but I’ll get to that later… I hiked for an hour or so, found a rock, and sat to catch my breath. Being alone in the vast silence, staring at the Continental Divide, was quite the experience. It was one of those Thoreau, “I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life…” kind of moments.
After resting, I continued on. I knew I had to be getting close to Dream Lake, the second lake in on the trail. I finally saw people — a couple. They looked at me, said “Hi.” and then looked at my flat, rubber bottomed, casual dress boots sans snow shoes. It was at that point I knew they took me for some amateur nut-case likely to be a casualty of the Rockies. Everyone (and I only saw about 5 people) had snow shoes — everyone! The couple said I could never make it to the “lakes” in the shoes I had on. So, after they left and I lost sight of them, I showed them what will really was when I met back up with them about 20 mins. later — at the furthest lake on the trail, Emerald Lake. The wife told me her husband said there was no way they’d see me again in the shoes I was wearing. I hung out with them, had a granola bar, and talked with them for 20 mins. or so. Nice people… They lived in Estes right outside the park — retired there. They took off after a while; I hung out and took some pictures. I had made it to where I wanted to, and as the clouds rolled in and killed any good picture taking, I decided to head back to the car.
Coming back down the mountain was a lot easier than climbing it. I skied on my boots most of the way, making sure to stay on the parts of the trail I knew had been pretty packed down by traffic already. I was literally downhill skiing in my street boots! That is, until I found myself “off the trail” and started “post holing” (legs just gone) up to my groin in around 10 foot snow… I thought I might be stuck, but I calmed myself and pulled the army crawl about 30 yards back to hard pack (after I finally was able to find it) or I’d a been stuck in the snow for the rest of the day — I told you it being morning and 30 degrees was important. It was. At this point, it wasn’t 30 anymore — it was in the mid-40’s now. As the temperature rose, the snow softened. As the day went on the snow got softer and softer. It was good I started at around 6AM (everything was ice at that point — which was still pretty difficult in the shoes I was in… I used about twice the energy it would have taken vs. having snow shoes). Anyhow, I was off the snow/trail by 11:30-12. Any later in the day and I wouldn’t have been able to make even a 1/4 mile on the trail without sinking each leg into the snow with every step. I’m glad no one came trucking by while I was sunk to the waist in snow, looking like someone cut my legs off… I would have had to pull the Jedi mind trick, “Nothing to see here. Just chillin’. . . (literally). Please move on.”
So… long story, yeah… Pictures are here. The pictures pretty much follow the story, chronologically.