Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life in the Rockies

 If you have never been to Rocky Mountain National Park, definitely put it on your "must-visit" list.  It was the first time our kids have gone and we are so glad they had the experience!  We camped in Moraine campground which was lovely.   A moraine is a valley formed by a glacier moving through, and this one is wide, lovely, and frequented by wildlife of all kinds.  The campground is actually a little above the moraine, deep in the Ponderosa Pine Forest. 

[Paul, Melissa Schmidt, Allison, T J Schmidt, Anneka Huntley]
One day we took a hike rated "easy" to Alberta Falls.  Because it was "easy" we took the family matriarch and the little kids.  Oopsie.  It was not easy.  The hike was 3 miles and though it began level, went straight up hill, level, straight uphill and ended with a scramble up some boulders that were about 6 feet high each.  That's when the hike ended for the Littles because I could not figure out how we'd get them back down safely.  I think the biggest highlight for the little ones was the shuttle bus ride to get there!

While some of the group hit the falls, the more stalwart members took a high altitude 6 mile scenic loop.   They had a wonderful time and reportedly handled the high altitude fine.  It was just under 12,000 feet!
[Maggie, Ted Uhlenkott, Gabriel]

Another day, we took a scenic drive up Fall River road - a wonderful dirt, one-way road with plenty of switchbacks.  It was slightly less harrowing than the Flatirons road I grew up on, but pretty exciting.  A few members of the party had to avert their eyes from time to time!   We had planned a day trip to Boulder --stomping ground of my youth -- but thought this would be more evocative.  That is an understatement.  It was stunning and truly inspiring.  Rarely have I felt so awed by the majesty and magic of creation.  We saw three herds of elk and a few small groups, as well as countless birds and deer.
[Bennie, Maggie, "Mamaw" (Donna Huntley, and Gabriel]

On our last day, we took the tourist's route and hit the streets in the resort town of Estes Park.  We enjoyed eating wildly expensive homemade ice cream, combing through the gift shops and taking in lunch in a locally owned joint.  The town was hopping and made us a little anxious to get back to the quiet and calm of the campsite.  While we enjoyed a taste of civilization, T J and Paul took out for Cub Lake, on foot.  En route, they encountered a mama moose and her twins.

I would have loved to see the moose but really enjoyed hanging out with my peeps in town!  Missing from our RMNP list were bears and bighorn sheep.  I was okay with missing the bears but will seek out the sheep next time.

It was a beautiful and challenging environment.  The kids gave the local wildlife a run for the money as we enjoyed the antics of the camp chipmunk, a few campground deer and a wily weasel.  On the last day they finally caught up to the poor bunny they'd been chasing all week.  We know it's wrong but they were so proud.  We think he finally just put his tiny arms up and surrendered!  Sorry RMNP wildlife; we'll grow up a little more before we come back!

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