Rocky Mountain Hikes: The Real Thing Begins

By the time we unloaded all our “stuff” into the cabin next to Morraine Welcome Center we were pretty tuckered out and it was late in the day. The sun has a way of suddenly disappearing at 7,000 feet, and heading out for a lengthy hike at 4 pm is not the smartest thing to do  - unless you are seeking magic light. Continue reading

Hike IX: The Tundra

Few parks offer a tundra experience. Tundra, as in above the tree line, and a climate not unlike places 1,200 miles north of Colorado. Places like the Arctic Circle.

A climate where winds blow at 150 miles per hour in the winter. Where the snow acts like sandblasting on the rocks and plantlife. A place where there is almost a constant wind during the summer. A tough place for things to grow. A tough place for wildlife. Continue reading

Hike VIII: Lake Odessa Challenge

We rely heavily on the recommendations of fellow photographers and the rangers in national parks for choosing the hikes we make. We turn to hiking books for supplemental ideas for hikes of challenge and interest.

Two separate hiking books tell us that there is a hike to yet another lake worth considering: Lake Odessa. Not too tough, not too easy, and plenty of scenery with a big payoff upon arrival. We’re talking about eight miles round trip, and the “worst” rating is “medium” difficulty.

Since this one will come late in our stay, we should be able to swallow it somewhat with ease. At least that’s the expectation. The only warning is that the last half mile is a steep descent, which, of course, means a steep ascent on the way back. Duh.

Can we do it? Why not? Although we’re told it’s a popular hike, we’ve only seen it mentioned in passing in two hiking books – no one else has mentioned it to us. But the description of the destination experience simply calls out to us.

So off we go, on hike VIII. Up next: hike IX – the “killer” hike? We shall see.

 

Hike VII: Chasm Falls – One of Many Options

When Rocky Mountain National Park became a national park, there was a road that ran along the northern side of the park that began just outside of Estes Park – Old River Road.

It was eventually replaced as the main thoroughfare when they blasted a road through the entire park, up through the tundra and on to “The Cut” – and  Ridge Trail Road. The engineers and construction crew even way back then, in the 1940s, took extra care to protect the terrain and natural geology. Continue reading

Hiking VI – Birds Flying Under Water? – Ouzel Falls

Here we go with hike number six. While not on the radar screen of our triangulated photo and ranger friends recommendation, it has high appeal for us two waterfall lovers.

Ouzel Falls won’t hike us into the ground, either. Still, six miles is a distance when moving from 1,000 feet above sea level to 8,000 feet+ – so it’s a good selection for one of our acclimation efforts. Continue reading

Hiking V – This Time, All the Way – Cascade Falls

While this comes up as hike five, it’s likely going to be hike #1. It’s a moderate hike, fairly long, and into some pretty unique country in the Rockies.

And I’ve been on most of it before. Way back in 2009, when visiting all the national parks was not even a gleam in our eyes. Who would have thought? Continue reading

Hiking III – Chasm Lake

Should we, shouldn’t we?

Can we, or can’t we?

Chasm Lake. One of the more aggressive recommended hikes for us in the Rockies takes us up almost half-a-mile in vertical gain.

And just happens to cover about 8.5 miles round trip. Continue reading

Hiking I – The Loch

The Rocky Mountains National Park artist in residence event is coming down the track faster than a speeding train.

Or a runaway 18-wheeler. Take your pick – it is close to panic time. Between work, visiting family, and packing for the relo to Florida, time is getting scarce. Fortunately, we already have the boots, socks, pants, shirts, jackets, rain gear, hats, and backpacks. Did I mention a camera and lenses? Continue reading