What a better way to spend your day than climbing to the top of a mountain? I am on vacation this week enjoying the fresh air of the Rockies. We (my husband, son and my son’s girlfriend) are staying in Estes Park, Colorado. It’s a great little town. Busy with tourists, though. You can walk to almost anything (and that is the point). The town sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Here, you are just minutes away from the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National State Park. The town is filled with Mom and Pop shops hoping to capitalize on your vacation dollars. This small town wakes up around 10:00 a.m. and goes to bed around 8:30 p.m. An outdoorsy person’s paradise.
The Big Thompson River runs down from the Rockies and all the way through town. You can grab an espresso at one of the coffee shops and enjoy it outdoors while listening to the roaring sounds of the rushing river waters. It is heavenly.
The sole point of our vacation is hiking. For some this is work, too much like exercising, but for me it is restoring. I enjoy walking. I believe I could literally walk for days (some how work keeps interfering). I also love nature, minus snakes and locusts, of course. Snakes are simply disgusting creatures that send me into total freak out mode. The sound of locusts, to me, is nothing more than the sound of sweltering heat and death. Neither serve any positive purpose in my life.
Yesterday our goal was to hike to Sky Pond (10,900 foot elevation). We would pass two waterfalls and see four lakes on our journey. A ten-mile hike, roundtrip, from the Bear Lake Trailhead. We ventured out on the trail at 7:30 a.m. despite a light rain. The rain decided to follow us much of the day. It was annoying, but not a total deterrent. (I am tenacious and a little rain was not going to stand in my way or interfere with my schedule). We made it all the way to Timberline Falls, an area where the snow still hadn’t completely melted and the clouds were lying low, covering the ground. I can honestly say I was walking on Cloud… errr… Nine? Not sure, I forgot to ask its number.
The rain… ugh! It followed us most of our journey. I’m certain it rained on us for at least six of our seven and one-half hour hike. I was hoping to show my son’s girlfriend, who had never been hiking before, some of the precious gems nature has to offer. As I explained; “Hiking is a lot like a treasure hunt. Sky pond is the treasure we are seeking. Nature has all sorts of hidden treasures to uncover.”
The rain made it difficult to enjoy the sights. The lakes, where we would normally stop to rest, gaze upon the magnificent wonders, and eat a light snack, I found we were rushing past. There just wasn’t anywhere to take refuge from the light rain. No place to enjoy our impromptu picnics.
As I walked the trails I couldn’t help but notice something. Something I had missed. I noticed how the rain formed small droplets that rolled off the petals of the flowers. I noticed how lush and green it was making the vegetation. I noticed how the waters from the rain ran down the sides of the mountain, how it amplified the sounds of the rushing waters. I noticed how the rain made the sides of the rocks glisten, shimmer and shine. Yes, these were beautiful sights to behold. This thing… this rain… that I found so irritating just a few minutes before was, in fact, so beneficial to this rugged terrain, and because of it, I was able to see this place from a fresh perspective. A beautiful sight indeed.
We scrambled up the jagged rocks and stood at Timberline Falls when the realization hit that we were not going to make it over the ridge to see Sky Pond after all. My heart sank a little. That was a lot of work to just fall short of the goal. My destination was just over that 100 foot rocky vertical climb. I stood there staring, studying the landscape. Looking for any way to make it possible. Any way at all.
The water from the Falls, in Oklahoma terms, “was getting it!” The water was pouring over the side of the cliff. On any other day we would have been able to climb the last leg of our journey next to the Falls, but today the waterfall was claiming every aspect of the ridge. Our only way up. The landscape was just too wet and slippery. Since I still consider us to be novice hikers, I decided we should save the broken bones for another day.
Although Sky Pond stays on my bucket list, for now, the journey was still incredible. We met a mule deer and her fawn on the way back down the mountain. We watched a pine tree snap in two and fall. I’m still not sure if a bear shits in the woods, though. Sorry I can’t answer this for you. I have yet to see one (I’m okay with this bears, no need to join me on the trails) in person.
The trails here are as wonderful as ever. A BIG shout out to all the individuals who work so hard (and to all those who donate) to preserve these little pieces of natural heaven in this great big, crazy, busy world of ours. My soul (and mental health) thank you.
I wanted to say that it would have been a perfect day if it included sunshine for our hike, but I realize that a day is only as perfect as I make it (or allow it to be). It may not have been all sunshine and smiles, but a little drizzly rain and all smiles was still just as good. My body is tired and feeling the effects of the hike, but my heart is happy and my soul is at peace.