Rocky Mountain National Park

In a move that certainly calls her judgment into question, Marie agreed to meet me on the road once again – this time for a weekend of hiking and camping in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I picked her up at the Denver airport on Friday afternoon and a short time later we were having dinner in Estes Park, just a few miles from the eastern entrance to RMNP.

You have to credit Marie for packing light, with only a purse and a small carry-on bag.  And yet she somehow managed to find room for four pairs of shoes – each of which, she quickly pointed out, was indispensable.  In a rare triumph of my better judgment, I refrained from asking Marie to explain why she couldn’t survive for a few days without the three-inch heels she wore on the plane.

Saturday morning we headed to the park and drove the full length of Trail Ridge Road, apparently the highest continuous paved road in the entire United States.  For over eight miles it runs above 11,000 feet.  At the highest point – 12,183 feet – we made the short hike to the geological survey marker and took in the panoramic views.

 

Marie and Rob at the High Point of Trail Ridge Road

 
On the western side of the road we stopped to hike around the Beaver Creek area.

 

Marie at Beaver Creek

 
Marie wasn’t particularly impressed with my choice of music for our drive, but I stand by my conviction that John Denver’s Greatest Hits must be played at least once during any trip to the Rocky Mountains.  It should also be noted that my attempt to encourage Marie to sing along with “Poems, Prayers and Promises” was not a big success.

That night we camped at Timber Creek, where I introduced Marie to the fine art of cooking hotdogs over a fire.  After enlightening Marie with a lengthy lecture on the proper technique for managing your hotdog over an open flame, I promptly allowed my cooking stick to catch fire, weakening it so much that the stick broke and dropped my hotdog right into the coals.  Of course I only did this to further Marie’s education by providing her with a dramatic example of what not to do, but unfortunately she misinterpreted my methods and – instead of expressing the appropriate level of gratitude – she once again made sarcastic remarks at my expense.

In what I’m sure was an attempt to atone for the hotdog misunderstanding, Marie followed her impressive string of pre-dawn performances in Yellowstone by waking up with me at 5am on Sunday for sunrise photos.  Our run of no-cloud morning luck continued and we didn’t get any good landscape shots, but the local wildlife stepped in to fill the void.

 

Elk before Dawn

 

Marmot

 

Elk in Morning Light

 
Later that morning we parked at the Bear Lake trailhead and hiked to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake.
 

Marie Laughing at Nymph Lake

 

Marie at Emerald Lake

 
Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park as an adult always triggers some really nice memories of childhood trips there with my family.  The highlights might be different these days (visitors are no longer allowed to feed the chipmunks and I doubt I’d be allowed on the giant Fun City slide in Estes Park), but it still feels the same to me.