Friday, August 7, 2009

Rocky Mountain National Park-August

On Tuesday, we took Grammy to Rocky Mountain National Park. We have been there at least a half dozen times since moving, but this trip held several firsts for us. It was the first time we had driven all the way through the park, and I mean all the way through from Estes Park to Grand Lake. I don't know the exact mileage or how many hours it took because we stopped a couple of times along the way, but I think it was at least 3 1/2 hours. One of our stops included seeing some young bull elk sparring and the best wildlife sighting of all was seeing two bull moose grazing in a marsh. It was the first time any of us had ever seen moose in the wild and was a real highlight.
I also finally got a great guide book to the park which we used to pick out the trail to Alberta Falls. It was a lovely trail meandering along a rushing stream and through stands of aspens until you finally reached the rocky ledge overlooking the falls. We stopped along the way to refuel with a picnic beside the stream. It was a great trail, the only downside was that lots of other people seemed to think so too. I'd like to visit again in the fall when the aspens are changing color and maybe it wouldn't be so crowded.
It was a wonderful trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, but one of the family members voiced some dissatisfaction on the way home. Rylan turned to me and said, "Mom, lets go to a real park tomorryo, you know, one with swings?"
Here are some of my favorite pictures, not in order, but I did explain them with the captions.

Stopping for a little rest and to study some trees. Grammy did great with the altitude and occasionally steep areas on the trail.
Grammy with her Colorado family.

Rylan "fishing" with a great big stick.
The two bull moose. Thankfully they were peacefully grazing and didn't seem to notice us. They can be some of the most dangerous wildlife in the park.

Charlton got this great shot of these elk cows and a cute little calf, still showing its spots.
On the way home, we stopped in this tiny mountain town of Fraser and ate an impromptu picnic on a little strip of grass behind the shopping center. We got to watch a train pass close by, which Rylan loved.
I'm not sure what Rylan was trying to communicate with this pose, but here we are next to Alberta falls.
If we look cold, we are! Charlton and I are standing on the alpine tundra at about 12,000 ft in altitude. We are above the treeline on relatively sparse terrain with just rocks and tiny tundra plants. Down at about 8-9,000 ft the weather was in the 80's and comfortable. Here, the wind had picked up and it was probably about 40 degrees and sleeting. I have adjusted to the 6,000 foot altitude of Colorado Springs, but I was out of breath at this height. The mountain views were incredible, but dizzying. I really felt near the top of the world. Charlton and I took a few pictures then ran back to the hill where Grammy was waiting with the kids.
Rylan was looking for bears in this "cave."

More explorations along the trail. Caroline stayed awake and happy along the way and finally fell asleep as soon as we reached the waterfall.

Charlton and his hiking boy.
Splashing in the creek.

A funny picture of us at Alberta Falls. Only the top of Caroline's head made it into this picture because she was sound asleep in the moby wrap.

Family photo beside the creek.
One last view of Alberta Falls.

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