Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rocky Mountain National Park with Bethany

Last Thursday, Charlton watched Rylan, so Bethany, Caroline and I could hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was an incredible day in the park, and truly the highlight of her visit. We pored over the guidebook, trying to pick out a destination and finally settled on a trail that led to Alberta Falls, to Loch Vale and on to Timberline Falls. On paper, 3.8 miles sounded like a reasonable distance. In actuality, lugging 23 lb. Caroline in the moby wrap on my chest and carrying our lunch and water in a 15 lb. backpack on my back uphill most of the way at about 10,000 feet in altitude, I am impressed that we made it the 3 miles (one-way) just to the lake. Going back was a little easier since it was downhill, but I underestimated my clumsiness with a baby in the front obscuring the view of my feet. I felt like I was 9 months pregnant again! Thank goodness for my hiking pole or we probably would have bit the dust and rocks a couple of times. Seeing the incredible views of the mountains, granite cliffs, waterfalls, and finally Loch Vale lake made the tough journey totally worth it.
One cute story: When we arrived at Loch Vale, Bethany and I noticed four very small baby mallards swimming around a shallow area in the lake. We searched and searched for the mama duck but never found her and finally thought something must have killed her, because the babies were too little to be on their own. About 45 minutes later, after our picnic lunch, we were looking out over the lake and heard a quacking in the distance. It grew louder and louder until we could see a mama duck making her descent. Her quacks were joined by the peeps of the baby ducks, suddenly emerging from the shoreline and frantically swimming to the center of the lake towards their mama. It was so sweet to see their happy reunion. I was really surprised a mama duck would leave her babies alone, but maybe she needed to go elsewhere to find food.
One really bizarre story: After hiking, we drove through the park to the tundra at about 12,000 ft. At one point there is a trail leading to an overlook with incredible views of the valley below. I grabbed Caroline and Bethany and I hopped out of the car for a quick look. We noticed a tour bus and then a large group of Korean students at the look-out, maybe high school or early college age. It was pretty crowded, so we hung back to wait our turn to admire the views. One of the students walked over and smiled at Caroline. We smiled back and tried to exchange pleasantries, but it didn't seem like they spoke much English. Another Korean student joined her and they both admired my baby. Then, someone held up a camera and snapped a picture. I thought that was a little odd, but I knew their culture tends to like to take a lot of memories when they travel places. No big deal. All of the sudden, Bethany, Caroline and I were completely surrounded by about a dozen Korean students smiling and cooing and taking pictures of my baby. Before I knew it, they were even sidling up next to her, holding up their fingers in peace signs and having their pictures taken with Caroline. I had no idea what they were actually saying, but I can only imagine my sweet baby's picture plastered all over Korean students facebook pages with the caption, "fat American baby." Here we were in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, with the most stunning mountain views imaginable, and these students were more fascinated with my roly-poly baby girl! Bethany and I laughed all the way back to the car, once we finally wiggled our way free from the paparrazi.

I didn't attempt to cross this stream on the stepping stones on the hike back down the mountain, I was too rubbery-legged. The bridge was much safer, thank you.

Caroline and her Aunt Bethany.

At Alberta falls we had to stop to take off our jackets and readjust the moby wrap.

When I look at this picture, I can't believe we were really there. It just looks too beautiful to be real.

Loch Vale. If you look really closely, you can see Timberline Falls in the background along the rocky cliff. Maybe next time, we will make it all the way..

Caroline is clapping her hands. She was so happy to be out of the wrap and be able to crawl around while we ate our picnic.

Beautiful Loch Vale.

My "fat American baby" enjoying her day in the mountains.

Aunt Bethany at Loch Vale.

Just had to include this picture for all those moms who have nursed babies. When baby is hungry, all you need is mom, even if it is at 12,000 feet on the alpine tundra!

Baby Caroline on the tundra. We later heard on the park info radio station that some tundra plants are so delicate that one foot print can erase 50 years of growth. I don't think this was the most fragile area of the tundra, but I cringe to think of what our footprints and Caroline's bottomprint did to these plants! Sorry, tundra plants.

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had an awesome time. I'm going to have to try a Moby wrap next time around.