We passed lots of legal recreational marijuana dispensaries on the way up to Rocky Mountain National Park. The business names were fun: “Bud Depot”, “Ganja Gourmet”, “House of Kush”, and my personal favorites… “Higher Education”, and “Let Us Be Blunt”. However, our title is actually referring to the John Denver, “Get high on being a country lad singing folk songs in the mountains”, kind of high. [Full disclosure…the last two dispensary references are made up…I just couldn’t help myself…]
Within days of Steven’s return from 2 months in Southeast Asia, I left for a pre-planned almost bi-annual, “Gals Only” hiking trip. Driving into the Colorado Rockies from Denver, a late season storm was brewing, leaving a clean carpet of snow overnight (photo below from our cabin).
That fit our plan to hike at a lower elevation the first day, to get used to the altitude and see some Colorado wildflowers and waterfalls, in this case the Cow Creek Trail below Bumpy Ridge. Although quite pretty in the Springtime melt, we could have been in the California Sierras for the terrain at that elevation. Each day thereafter it felt more like the Colorado Rockies as we set out on higher and higher elevation hikes, donning snowshoes to hike to Victoria Falls and Bear Lake on our 2nd day, and Chain of Lakes (photo below at iced over Emerald Lake) on our 3rd day.
Our highest elevation hike was surprisingly completed without snowshoes, and ended at 11,617 ft on our 4th day. We had to stop 1/4 mile short of the summit, as the wind exposure made conditions too icy, and slippery to proceed. The RMNP staff has cleared the entire Trail Ridge Road at that elevation, but the blowing snow requires daily re-plowing. It is still quite wintery at this elevation in spite of the intention to open the road before the late May, Memorial Day weekend approaching in two weeks. The road is great for hikers however, thanks to the ongoing snow plowing and car free road for two more weeks.
We played Bananagrams and card games, and made gourmet meals at night in our comfy cabin at YMCA of the Rockies near Estes Park; the resort abuts the National Park, providing great views of Long’s Peak (below), one of Colorado’s 53 peaks over 14,000 ft. Karen and I took special pleasure looking at it, recalling our climb to the summit in 1991. It requires a 3 AM start as all hikers must be off the summit by noon, due to the high risk of lightning strikes from the predictable afternoon storms in the Rocky Mountains.
This year we were all happy to be moving at a slower pace with time for lunchtime naps on warm granite…
…lots of elk with new furry antlers wandering in town and beyond…
..and lots of time on the trail to catch up on our lives in the last 2 years (left to right: Nancy, Karen, Sally).
We three old pals feel so lucky to have sufficient time, financial resources, and good health to celebrate old age and old friendships together once more on the trail. The only thing we just missed by trying to arrive closer to the start of Summer is the annual town fundraiser, The Rubber Ducky Race in the Big Thompson River flowing through the park. Thanks to Marianne, this photo shows the dumping of 7,000 sponsored ducks at the start of the race. The little town of Estes Park really knows how to have a good time!