While in Colorado last week for a reunion with some of my favorite people in the world (fellow Peace Corps volunteers in the Central African Republic), we managed to tack on a quick overnight, and some other short hikes in/around Rocky Mountain National Park without having to wrestle with the very crowded Beaver Meadows entrance.
First, Karen and I did a quick hike 6.8 miles up to Thunder Lake, pleasant walking on a well-established trail. Being the first day away from home (200′ elevation), the last mile or so above 10,000′ had the lungs working overtime as we raced to beat the potential thunderstorms. The thunderstorms came, but we didn’t bear the brunt of it. Because of a permit mix-up at the RMNP office, we got the stock campsite, very nice, quiet, and closer to Thunder Lake than the others. On the way back the next morning, we stopped by Ouzel Falls and Calypso Cascade.
With the full group in place, we wanted a couple of quick hikes that didn’t take away too much of our time together. The first day, as others were acclimating, we strolled the 3.8 mile RT trail up Lily Mountain, with a fun scrambly bit at the top. This was finished with a quick drive into drive from some whisky drinks, vodka drinks, and lager drinks at the iconic Stanley Hotel.
Scott, John, and I decided to round out the trifecta with a quick 3.7 miles (one way) walk up Estes Cone to crack the 11,000′ mark. And it was pretty quick, at about and hour and 20 minutes to the summit. There we had a great 360-degree view of the area including the Long’s Peak diamond, I got to school a couple of youths about rock-throwing etiquette (i.e., don’t), and Scott and John sat by and watched as I watch ambushed by a chipmunk. After cheese, crackers, and a summit soda, we trotted back down to continue the festivities.
Lovely. You don’t have to do a 14’er every time, and you don’t have to look too hard to avoid the crazy traffic in the park.