Our second national park adventure from our recent trip to Colorado. I didn’t know what to except, apart from mountains of course. I thought the name to be a little unoriginal. After all, I typically think of mountains as rocky formations. My hubby – let’s just call him Shed – pointed out that the Rockies are more rocky than my coveted Appalachians. So there you go. I guess.
I expected hiking. There seems to be a lot of hiking and a lot of trails in Colorado, a fact I appreciated. I did not expect hiking (I use the term here loosely, as it was more along the lines of locking my knees and losing traction of my inadequate boots) through four and a half feet of packed snow from the winter. I expected some snow to linger, as it snowed a few days before we dared the ascent up Highway 36 to Estes Park for the trip. I did not realize that, at that altitude, much of the snow from the winter had yet to melt. You have not hiked until you’ve hiked through four miles of a combination of packed snow and ice. While we went for the easy to moderate trails – going to Alberta Falls, Bear Lake, and the Glacier Gorge (which was frozen over), even the elevation changes we faced on the ‘trail’ (again I use the term loosely as there was only a five foot patch along the entire four mile hike where you could see the dirt trail) played murder on my legs. It was slow goings, but the weather afforded us limited interactions with others dumb enough to pick this time of year to hike. It was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. My first experience of a winter wonderland, even if it was April. While I would love to go back in the summer, where more of the park is accessible and visible, I wouldn’t have traded this first experience for anything. A day in the woods beats therapy by a mile.
Lumpy Ridge Trailhead to Gem Lake
See the snowman out in the middle of the lake? Four feet of packed snow on the trails or not, I would not have dared a trot across the lake. But the snowman brought a smile to my wind chilled face.