After our little foray into Breckenridge on Monday we were itching to go back into the mountains, so on Tuesday we took the Roc to Rocky Mountain National Park. Very beautiful drive north of Denver, through Boulder, and then into the mountains. We were unexpectedly stopped by some road construction before Estes Park so I got out of the car to snap a picture (and a young women a few cars ahead got out to relieve herself – which I didn’t take a photo of!). Here’s our snazzy FORD rental.
GC read online that the hike around Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park was an easy 0.6 miles and that there was a waterfall 1 mile away from the lake. We never thought about the fact that MANY other people would also opt for this easy and picturesque hike and as we drove through the park we saw a big sign that said “Shuttle Buses to Bear Lake. Parking Lot FULL”
Oh No. CRAP.
The Roc would definitely NOT like being smashed on a shuttle bus with lots of strangers. We decided to drive on to the parking lot and see if we could luck out and get a spot. A park ranger stopped our car at the parking lot entrance to tell us to keep moving through so the shuttle buses could get by. The Roc was yelling “GET OUT!” from the back seat and my heart was sinking as I tried to explain that there was no parking and we had to drive back down and take a bus when we rounded the corner and a big SUV backed out of a spot! SCORE!
We all got out and got our stuff ready. A shuttle bus dropped off a load of people and everyone started down the same trail. GC and I looked at each other as the Roc started to get agitated, anxiously looking over his shoulder, and saying in his very LOUD high pitch “there’s PEOPLE here!! No!! They want to come TOO!!”
We glanced at Bear Lake and then started down a side trail hoping that if we got away from the mass of people the Roc would calm down a bit. We stopped to have a little lunch.
The Roc didn’t want to eat and was still agitated by the people passing by on this less crowded trail. I bargained with him and let him have one cookie after eating a certain amount of his lunch. I kept the second cookie aside and we made that cookie “what he was working for.” We decided against trying to hike around Bear Lake and instead started up this new trail after having a chat about being nice and saying “Hi” instead of screeching every time someone passed us on the trail. Each time we saw a person or group coming down the trail I told the Roc it was his chance to practice saying “Hi” and asked him what he was working for to which he replied “my second cookie.” It worked and he “worked for” that second cookie the rest of the day!
We hiked the 2 miles to Bierstadt Lake all the while GC and I had little conversations about how we would have to turn around and hike the 2 miles back to the car. We didn’t see many people on this trail and even though we were a little worried about the Roc being able to hike back we were happy to be in such a beautiful place. Eventually we made it to Bierstadt Lake and stopped for a snack and took some pictures.
We climbed onto the big rock in this next picture,
and a young duck came up onto the rock to investigate us.
We were all pretty excited about this which caused the little duck to quickly join his siblings back in the water!
Before we started the hike back to Bear Lake the Roc got some tickling out of the way,
and we took a family photo.
The hike back went just as well as the hike in, no complaining (except for when it sprinkled-the Roc doesn’t like rain falling on him-which is strange considering his water fascination).
Eventually we made it back to Bear Lake and it was a little quieter so we were able to stop and take a few pictures.
As we got closer to the parking lot I noticed the sign advertising that Alberta Falls was 1 mile away down a different trail. The Roc LOVES waterfalls and we’d been telling him that he would see waterfalls in Colorado. We asked him if he wanted to hike more to see a waterfall and of course he said “YES!” (even though he’d already gone 4 miles!). As we started down the path, and I do mean down-we were going down in elevation, GC and I looked at each other and said “this may be a bad idea!” We went slow and eventually made it to the waterfall. The Roc was not as steady on his feet so we kept tight control over him when we got close to the edge.
He LOVED it and seeing his excitement totally made up for the fact that after about a 1/2 mile back, just as the trail started going UP in elevation, the Roc told me “my legs don’t work” and I had to piggy back him to the car!
He was exhausted.
We were too. We decided we had to come back before our trip was over.
Tomorrow: Red Rocks + Rocky Mountain Nation Park II