Rocky Mountain National Park

Come with me as I hike all 355 miles of the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. I've lived here my whole life, and now that I've stepped foot into such a beautiful world, I just can't stay away. - Tabby D.

Here. We. Go. Time for Tabby to hike her first 14er. I know this blog is dedicated to Rocky Mountain National Park only, but I figure a hike up a mountain 14,000’+ high is worthy ;) .

I choose Quandary Peak.  It’s Friday morning, 4:45am. I’m up. Every where I go hike ends up being two hours away, e v e r y w h e r e. Quandary Peak is just a little outside of Breckenridge, in Blue River, CO. Unlike RMNP, this trail allows dogs, so I was thrilled to have Roxanne with me today.Thrilled!

Seven fifteen in the morning and I’m here. There’s the sign. Then there’s another sign, it reads “There’s no such thing as an easy fourteener.” Let’s do this.

June 29th, 2012 – 7:27am

2:00pm. I’m back in my car and it’s only 2:00pm! I am NOT ready to head back to Littleton. I decided to drive into the lovely little town of Estes Park and walk through the shops. Estes Park is great you guys, little, cute, beautiful town. Mildly touristy, but not bad at all. To get to town I had to drive around Rocky Mountain National Park. See I usually enter from the North side, but today I was on the South. So I had to drive for a few miles to get into town. I drove through the mountain town of Meekers Park.

Such a rewarding decision it was to drive this way. I passed the Long’s Peak Trailhead, and a wonderful view of the peak at that. I can’t wait to do it, will probably be in August with my friend David. He gave me some great pics he took of the sunrise from up there, maybe he’ll let me post them one day. Or maybe I should just take my own… As I’m driving I realize there is a lake to my left! Hurray!! I usually plan a trip just to hike to a lake, and here is a random surprise one! Love random.

Lily Lake. This is the only lake I’ve encountered that actually has a parking lot at it. Which means it’s a wee-bit crowded. Popular for fishing. Trout mainly I believe. I make small talk with this little girl about ducks. She knows more about them than I do, amazing to watch intelligence in children. I’m thankful for Lily Lake.

June 21st, 2012 – 2:24pm

After rejuvenating my tired feet in the cold, refreshing lake it was time to continue on. There were some folks on the other side of the lake fishing. I wish I could just walk up to them and ask to join. I understand the value of solitude in nature though, and I know it’s not polite to try to take that away from anyone.

I had not come up to the park this early before. So even though I hiked in farther than I ever have before, it was only about 12:30pm and I was already headed back. I didn’t want it to be over. I knew I still had 7 miles to go before I was back at the car, but I was in no hurry. I let myself stop more times than ever possibly. The running water really got me today.

Plenty of beautiful sights along the way down. Trees for days, peaks in the distance, and flowers at your feet…

June 21st, 2012 – 1:48pm

The last mile or two to Thunder Lake were rough. More mentally than physically, this is frustrating alone. Letting your mind win… Let’s just say, I was ready to get there.

There were quite a few campsites around Thunder Lake. I liked knowing that people hiked 6+ miles in here with all their gear. It would be a nice area to camp, absolutely. I don’t know too many people that would be willing to trek in though, unfortunately. When I first laid eyes on Thunder Lake I noticed how the surrounding areas of this lake were completely different than all the others I’ve been to so far. Grassland, damp, almost swampy in areas. Not rock. Everywhere else it was pretty much rock all the way around, which made it extremely easy to find a place right on the edge of the water. You could still get to the edge of Thunder Lake, but in most areas the grass was so wet you’d seep down 6”+. I found this little rock beach about 3’ long and 3’ wide for me rest on.

Shoes off. Socks following. The back of my shirt had a nicely sized pool of sweat along the lower back. It was over 90 degrees today, add a pack on top of that, and you’re back will be wet. I stepped into the water. So cold. So nice. Nice? I mean wonderful.

June 21st, 2012 – 12:11pm

Calypso Cascades were absolutely a sight to see. This is a great park of the hike I think. I love the types of trees around. 
What a great word.. cascades…
June 21st, 2012 - 10:20am

Calypso Cascades were absolutely a sight to see. This is a great park of the hike I think. I love the types of trees around.

What a great word.. cascades…

June 21st, 2012 - 10:20am

Two point six miles in we have another wonder. Ouzel Falls. I can’t get over how much I love the volume of noise that comes from these beautiful works of nature. The sounds of the rushing water tumbling down and crashing on the rocks just drowns out anything else that could be on your mind.

I then passed the falls again on my way back, working on the 11th mile of Thursday’s adventure. I stopped at the falls for a lot longer this time. I knew I was almost back, and the sun was high, I took my time. I wanted to get closer to the falls. I couldn’t really see a way. But then I saw a glimpse of someone’s hat, all this registered to me as was “it’s possible”. So I just started in, like I should have done in the 1st place. I made my way up till I could literally reach out and touch it. NOT a good idea though here, the water is moving so fiercely, that one hand in there and you’re going to be pulled down, I promise you. I just sat there, listening, no thoughts, just feeling the mist from the waterfall hit my skin. That’s all that moment consisted of, which makes it perfect.

June 21st, 2012 - 10:40am & 2:01pm

First visual stimulator: Copeland Falls. There is an Upper and Lower portion to these falls. Smaller falls, but wide, wonderful of course.

June 21st, 2012 - 11:09am

"Welcome back." said Rocky Mountain National Park as I arrived early Thursday morning. I hadn’t come up to the park this early before. Thus far I have taken trailheads accessed be Bear Lake Road which has construction daily from 9:00am-4:00pm right now, so I usually get there right at 4. Anywhoo, this morning I arrived at about 10:45am. I took the Wild Basin Trailhead today, with Thunder Lake being my main destination. Today will be a 14 mile day.

I hopped on the trail and started covering as much distance as quick as possible before the incline became ridiculous. I was focused and distracted, perfect. I pass a pair of hikers and a gentleman speaks out “Good Morning.”, snapping me out of my daze and reminding me, that it’s morning, and well that’s just a very easing feeling. I didn’t feel like I was racing the sun today.

June 21st, 2012 - 11:03am

Wow right? Every time I leave Rocky Mountain National Park it is usually due to the fact that I’m running out of sunlight. What this creates is a situation where I am provided with amazing sunsets as I leave Estes Park. One problem. I’m driving away from the sunset, so it’s in my rear view mirror. I have a slight, okay maybe major, obsession with sunsets/rises. So I can’t just not look at one. I kept turning over my shoulder while driving on the small mountain road, trying to snap pictures while swerving into neighboring lanes. This was dangerous. So I pulled off to the side of the road, sat on top of my car and watched the colors become more and more vibrant. For me, this is a perfect ending to a day.

June 11th, 2012 - 7:54pm

Mills Lake… oh Mills Lake. I had read about it whenever mentioned in different hikes, it did not stick out to me though. Not exactly proud to admit succumbing to fancy names like Dream and Glass Lake, and Sky Pond… Well needless to say, Mills Lake was breath taking. First, you pass over a smaller lake pour off named Jewel Lake (bottom right picture). A strong river also runs along this area. But you have to continue back. This lake is in another corner of the mountains. It offers one of the best views I believe. It’s also not right along the trail, so it a little more secluded, which I enjoy.

I was so happy I decided to take my minor detour. The sprinkle of spontaneity always makes a situation sweeter. ;)

June 11th, 2012 – 5:54pm