Saturday, June 22, 2013

Rocky Mountain High

The last school day for teachers was Thursday, June 6th - woohoo!!  The next morning I hopped on a plane and headed WEST! (and here's a REALLY long post about my trip!)

The paparazzi caught me arriving at the airport!

My parents' RV was stationed in Estes Park, Colorado - just minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park!  
The day of my arrival, we did some very outdoorsy things like stopping at Costco and visiting Starbucks!
This Starbucks boasts the best view of any my parents have visited - and trust me, they've visited just about every one in existence.  The Estes Park Starbucks sits along the Big Thompson River - though it looked more like a creek, it was very nice to sit beside and sip coffee!
Since Estes Park sits at an elevation of 7,500 (a slight change from the 400 feet above sea level where York, PA sits!), we decided it would be best to give me a day to adjust to the altitude before we went on any big hikes. So, we spent my first full day in Colorado exploring Rocky Mountain National Park by car along the Trail Ridge Road.  This road winds from Estes Park on the East side of RMNP about 50 miles to Grand Lake on the park's West side.  We stopped along the way to get out and explore the beautiful scenery a bit!

The road winds through the park and eventually gets up above 12,000 feet and enters a new habitat - the Arctic Tundra.
(I'm pretty sure this kind of snow would have at least given us a 2 hour delay in PA!)
(stepping in snow on the 2nd day of summer vacation!)
That's pretty high up there!
The Trail Ridge Road also passes through the Continental Divide, which as you can see, has not quite thawed out yet!!

Check out my first day according to my Dad here!

For my 2nd day in Colorado, we decided to hike the Wild Basin area.  We took a hike towards the Calypso Cascades. Our total hike distance was over 6 miles and went from 8,500 ft to 9,600 ft! I did notice my heart rate went up more quickly and I got tired a easier, but overall the change in elevation didn't give me near the trouble I had thought it might - or that it would have 80 pounds ago!

You can read a detailed description of our hike here - but I'm just going to share some pictures!

So Colorado!

I considered these stairs training for the Urbanathlon this year!

The Calypso Cascades - roaring with spring snow melt!

The view from near the top of the trail - blue, blue sky and snowy mountains!

My third day in Colorado dawned with more beautiful blue skies!  We decided today we'd hike to Gem Lake.  As you can see, this hike is "only" 1.7 miles (one way).  Seems like a short distance, however, in that 1.7 miles you gain 1,000 feet of elevation - so it's 1.7 miles of up, up, and more up!

I stopped along the way to do a little yoga.

Reflection in Gem Lake.  (which, to be honest, was more like Gem Pond to me - but it was beautiful!)

 This rock almost got in our way on the way down, but I moved it - don't worry.
(more on the Gem Lake hike here!)

Day four's hike was my favorite of the trip.  We got an early start and headed for the Loch Vale - a beautiful lake nestled in between snow covered mountains.  

Alberta Falls is one of the beautiful sites you see on the way up the trail!

My lunch view - that's a whole lot better than the school faculty room!!
Mom and I after lunch
Looks like a postcard, doesn't it?

It took us a little over 3 miles to get to the lake, and the lake is at over 10,000 feet above sea level!

On the way down, I paused to do a few mountain climbers in the mountains.  And by a few, I mean 1 just for this picture.

Since I typically share what healthy meal I'm eating, I figured it only fair to share this.  The "Not-So-Teeny Wahine" feast at Smokin' Daves BBQ.  The 3 of us shared this platter of smoked deliciousness! 

More on the Loch hike here!

Day 5 dawned a little slower for us.  The previous night had been really windy, and wind and RVs don't go together very well.  It was quite loud and shaky - so none of us got the best night of sleep!  We decided to take it "easy" and hike to Cub Lake.
This hike was still a nice distance (over 6 miles), but didn't have quite as dramatic of a change in elevation ("only" 500 ft), so it was flatter.  

The unique thing about this hike is that the Cub Lake trail connects to the Fern Lake trail, and there was a large wildfire in that area just last year.  Hiking through the burned out trees was like hiking through a scene in some post-apocalyptic Hollywood movie.  It was strange!

Cub Lake - surrounded by burned forest.

Pausing to check out the scenery.
(more on Cub Lake here)

Thursday was my last day in Colorado.  My plane didn't leave until 5:25 (which turned into 6:45!), so we had some time in the morning to catch a few final sites.
Dad and I checking out some falls - one last beautiful view (the falls, not you Dad - haha!!) in Rocky Mountain National Park.

One of the things I'd been looking for during the trip was a t-shirt that said Rocky Mountain National Park.  Estes Park is a typical tourist town with about 20 t-shirt shops.  I checked every single one and didn't find "the shirt" - there were some I liked, but none that I liked enough to get.  The last day though, we stopped at one final visitor's center and I found "the shirt".  It was pink, my favorite color, and had the most fitting saying on the back.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, and Rocky Mountain National Park, for a fantastic week!!

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