Colorado Adventures Part 1: Rocky Mountain NP
Okay, first of all, can the summer just stahhhp (oh internet lingo, why you so prevalent?!). How is it that we’re nearly done with August…huh, Huh, HUH?!
So it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged (something I would like to improve upon in the coming months). A few weeks back, we ventured off to the wilds of Colorado bouncing from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park to Breckenridge to Vail to Glenwood Springs to the Aspen-Maroon Bells Wilderness and to Boulder. It was an equal parts camping/backpacking/hotel-room-staying (yes, we did shower!) adventure.
Since there were so many mini adventures rolled into one large visit, I’ve decided to split up my recaps, making them easier to swallow for y’all.
Our view of Longs Peak from Moraine Campground
Today I wanted to share our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. First of all…let me tell you about the altitude. So obviously coming from essentially sea-level NJ means that arriving at 8,160 foot Moraine Campground for the evening was already crazy-go-nuts. Now I didn’t experience too many symptoms of altitude sickness overall during our stay in CO, but once we started hiking at all I found myself huffing. Pro tip: Hydration is key!
Drinking coffee in the shadow of Longs Peak...and man was my sensor filthy!
Needless to say, we spent some time acclimating to the lofty heights. Our first hike was the “Four Lakes Loop” from the Bear Lake Trailhead. On this circa 6-7 mile journey (it all depends which lakes you visit!), we drank in the fantastic beauty of the Rockies for the first time. As someone who had never been, I was more than pleased with the piney-rocky-expansive landscapes that make this park so beautifully unique.
The view returning from Campers Creek
That night, we got a backcountry site at “Campers Creek” from the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead. Now, when we got the permit for this site at the Wilderness Information Center, I was under the impression that it would be an easy 2 mile stroll along a creek where we’d leisurely make camp. Nooope…try a 2 mile trudge with 1,290 elevation gain ending at 9,600 feet. Darn you Colorado!
Here’s a helpful tip when visiting the Keystone State: Never believe the locals. Their version of “easy-going” or “not dangerous” is the very opposite of what you think. When I asked an REI worker if they’ve had to use bear spray, they said they keep it on hand more so for moose and mountain lions. MOUNTAIN LIONS. I dunno, maybe I’m just a...scaredy cat… ;)
Marek and I in front of Peacock Pool where a local dude marveled how we were all the way from New Jersey ;P
Anyways, before I make this entry the longest entry in the history of the Wanderblog, I’ll end with a brief recap of our final RMNP hike toward Longs Peak. Obviously we weren’t planning to tackle it then and there only a couple days after arriving (it’s a 14er, mind you, as in above 14,000ft, and the tallest in the park…yea). Instead, we set off to see Chasm Lake, or at least almost Chasm Lake. I’ll be honest: I have an intense fear (perhaps even phobia) of thunderstorms, and the Rockies are well known for their sudden onsets of cumulonimbus clouds come afternoon. Once we reached the view at Peacock Pool (seen above), I was fearful of getting below treeline before potential thunderstorms hit, so we turned back. Also, we were off to Breckenridge that evening 3 hours away, so were eager to get back to the trailhead before it got too late. There, those are my excuses for skipping out on Chasm Lake ;).
In any case, we still got to take in the magnificence of Longs Peak from afar and explore the scraggly-craggly rockscapes that exist above treeline in this alpinous environment. Woohoo!
Backpacking in the Aspen-Maroon Bells Wilderness (episode coming soon!)
Allrighty, I’ll end it there and promise the next entry on Colorado will be more titillating than ever! Let’s just say there'll be an episode featuring our backpacking trip through the Aspen-Maroon Bells Wilderness than I cannot wait to get started on.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for a hiking guide up Panther Mountain in the Catskills which we’ll hopefully be tackling this weekend :D.
Until next time, happy trails!
p.s. The National Parks' Centennial is August 25 - all parks have free admission, so go on and #findyourpark!