Thursday, July 10, 2008

Vacation Day Five

Day 5: Bear Lake hikes and Trail Ridge Road, Take 2

We headed out to Estes Park again to explore one of the more popular areas of the park, Bear Lake.

On the way we stopped to take some photos of Long's Peak which we planned to hike on Friday before Andy and I left for Denver.

We weren't planning on making it to the top, mind you. To do that, we'd have to leave the cabin at about 2:30 AM, and be completely different, more in shape and a little bit crazier people. I remember reading that every year, 10,000 people attempt to summit Long's Peak and only 3,000 succeed. I'd definitely need some altitude training before thinking about that.

More pretty photos came along when we had to stop for Jenny to have a bathroom break. (One of many. For an adult, you'd think she's got a bladder of a 5-year-old.)

We got to the park and took a shuttle to the trailhead.

The first sight on our journey was Nymph Pond.

Chad is always willing to go the extra mile to get a good photo.

Even though I didn't sit on a rock in the middle of the lake, I think I did pretty well.

As usual, the higher/farther we got, the better the views.

It started to get a little snowy and cold as we continued on the shrinking trail.

Just as we stopped to snap some photos of this waterfall, the clouds gathered and it started to rain.

This wouldn't usually be a big deal, but since Andy and I had been carting our rain coats on EVERY hike with us and never seen a drop, we'd decided to leave ours back at the car this time. (Hey, if you scoff at mother nature, don't be surprised if she gives you the finger when your back is turned.)

As the sky got darker, we decided to wait it out. Chad advised us all to find "homes" (any area under a small group of trees where we could huddle and hide from the light rain), so we huddled up and waited about 20 minutes for the rain clouds to mostly pass us by.

We were already almost next to Dream Lake, so we decided we make it there before turning around.

I also kind of fell in love with this tree. Chad shared his love of gnarly trees with me, and I haven't looked back since.

The gray skies didn't look like they were going away, though, so we headed back down.

And took pictures on the way.

It was lunchtime, so we stopped in a valley and found a big rock to use as a picnic table.

It was a nice backdrop for a relaxing lunch. Much better than my fluorescent-lit, little cafeteria at work.

This guy seemed pretty interested in our Baked Cheetos and Smartfood Popcorn, but we weren't giving up any of our stash.

He and his buddies started surrounding us, guerrilla-style, but we weren't intimidated.

After lunch we headed up to Trail Ridge Road again to hit a trail that we'd missed earlier in the week at the Rock Cut stop.

We saw lots of Alpine Tundra, cool rock formations and chilly wind on the hike.

At the end of the trail there was a neat metal sign of sorts on top of a rock formation. If you lined up arrows with your line of sight, you could see the name of each mountain. (Yeah, I realize this would be easier to explain if I had a photo.)

We talked some nice people into taking our picture after I performed an impromtu photo shoot for a guy who wanted photos of himself with the mountain background from every direction possible.

Here's Jenn and Chad scrambling down after seeing lighting in the distance that was headed our way.

We made it down safe and sound, and I don't even remember what we had for dinner that night. Maybe garlic bread with pasta and Italian sausage? Anyway, you can tell I'm getting tired of writing recaps and my memory's getting a little fuzzy, so it's a good thing the next one is the one day from the whole trip that will be burned into my memory forever.

That's right, kids! Tomorrow's what you've been waiting for... Whitewater Rafting Day! Also known as the day when, for the tiniest of moments, I actually thought Chad might be dead.


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