Sunday, June 9, 2013

Go West: Rocky Mountain National Park: May 28th, 2013

We set out for Rocky Mountain National Park on Tuesday, May 28th.  It was one of the first days in which the main road through the park - Trail Ridge Road - was open for the season.  Our first stop was the Endovalley Picnic Area, right at the turnoff to the Old Fall River Road.  We'd heard that the Old Fall River Road was still closed, but it was open to hiking.  We figured we'd start off with a nice amble up the dirt road, taking in the scenery.  We were not disappointed.

Rocky Mountain National Park: where every picture is a postcard

We followed our ears to a babbling brook, where Joe gave his new camera a workout.  We went further up Old Fall River Road in search of the trail to the waterfall, but instead we encountered a work crew.  Chasm Falls Trail was closed for repairs!  No matter, we had a nice walk on a beautiful day, and there was plenty of park left to go.

Mandatory picture of Joe looking at a waterfall

Icy cold water, on its very long path to the Atlantic ocean.

Our main goal was to head for the Continental Divide, while doing some small hikes off Trail Ridge Road as we went along.  Joe did all of the driving.  I had brought along a few knitting projects in anticipation for steep cliffs and situations in which I just did not want to be watching how close we were to plummeting to our deaths.  Not a knock on Joe at had more to do with the lack of guardrails and me being such a flatlander.  I knit furiously to keep my mind off of the road.

We stopped every few miles to explore the designated viewing areas.  We didn't have a lot of choices - most of the road was a sheer drop to certain death on one side, and a six-foot-high wall of snow on the other.  When we did get out of the car, we enjoyed ourselves in the alpine meadows.

Joe gets me back for the Michigan Incident.

Marmots sunning themselves on a rocky outcropping. 

And then it was on to the Continental Divide.  We didn't actually find the sign that said "HERE IS THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE".  We figured that it was buried somewhere under the all of the snow.  The walls of snow at the parking area were taller than Joe - probably a good 8 feet tall!  We were disappointed to not find a sign...oh well.  I did take the opportunity to use the outhouse at the Divide parking lot.  I wonder which ocean my pee will eventually find?

There was so much snow that we decided to get out the snowshoes, which were hiding in the trunk of Joe's car.  Why not snowshoe over the Continental Divide, on the Tuesday after Memorial Day?  There was no trail to be found, no signs...well, we did find the Ute Trail sign.  I have a feeling that it will be a while before it is open to hiking for the season.

Alpine Visitor Center, 4 miles.  Fall River Pass, 4 miles.  Ute Trail, under 4 feet of snow.

It's hard to gauge exactly how much hiking we did.  The Old Fall River Road hike was about 3 miles.  We probably snowshoed about half a mile, and we did about a mile or so of the Tundra Communities Trail, which is a self-guided interpretive trail about the flora and fauna in the high alpine meadows of the park.  That's where we sat down and got our foot self-portrait.

Self portrait in the mountain meadow

Once we'd hit the Tundra Communities Trail, we both kind of hit a wall.  Tired and probably feeling the effects of the altitude, we headed back to Estes Park.  What a great day, though.  I'm glad that we were able to get up the road - we sure cut it close, with the beginning of the season being so late in the year - and that we got to hike around a bit.  Perhaps we'll return someday to see a bit more of the park.  

Total miles hiked today: We're going to guess 4.5 high-altitude, sometimes-ground-sometimes-snow miles.
Total miles hiked in 2013: 22.8
Total Superior Hiking Trail miles hiked in 2013: 6.8
Total ticks today: 0
Total ticks in 2013: 4

1 comment:

  1. We drove through the park on Trail Ridge Road on the 23rd or 24th of May last year. There was a huge snow storm & they were closing the road behind us as we drove! I was so glad that my dad was driving.... we could barely see 5 feet in front of the car. We did get out and look around a couple of times, but the rangers were probably 10-20 minutes behind us the whole time, so we were hurried. Being in a blizzard up top and then getting to the Estes park side and there being no weather and a lovely 77 degree day was the most bizarre thing.

    I'm glad your drive was less eventful! Love the pictures. :)