Monday, July 25, 2022

Rocky Mountain National Park - Day 2 - Morning

A Little Help from a Pro

When we started planning our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, we found ourselves overwhelmed by how much there was to see and how little time we had to see it. While there's no shortage of recommendations on the web, I still feared we weren't optimizing our time.

To put myself at ease, we splurged on a Dirt In My Shoes paid itinerary. For $40, you get a fully thought through itinerary from a (in theory) trusted source, Ash.

Ultimately, what the paid itinerary suggested and what we were planning to do aligned: on day one we'd focus on driving Trail Ridge Road, using the time to acclimatize. On day two, we'd do a mix of driving, hiking and a non-hiking activity. On day 3, with our bodies hopefully adjusted to elevation, we'd attempt a long hike.

While the general outline matched up to what we intended, Ash provided some invaluable tips that more than justified the purchase of her itinerary.

The Adventure Begins

And so at 6:00am, with bright and sunny skies, we drove into the park hoping for a full day of adventure and amazing sights. We would not be disappointed.

Our first goal of the day was to make it to the Ute Trail head, where we'd hike through the unique alpine tundra ecosystem.

Our first stop of the day was at Many Parks Curve Overlook where we were simply blown away by the amazing views. As a nice bonus, we had the overlook completely to ourselves. As I walked back to the car, I looked at my watch and saw that my heart was pounding away at 106 beats per minute. This altitude was no joke.

The Ute Trail

We scored a small victory when we made it to the small Ute Trail parking lot and found it had space for our car. We hopped out of the car and headed out for the short out-and-back stroll on the Ute Trail.

We quickly realized that this was anything but a simple stroll. Huffing and puffing, chilled to bone from the wind and cold, I looked down at my watch. Surely we'd walked nearly a mile. Instead, we'd walked hundreds of feet. Like I said, this altitude is no joke.

Because I was psyched to get started, the hike was supposed to be so short and the weather was so nice at the bottom of the mountain, we didn't think to grab trekking polls, gloves or hand-warmers for Shira. All three of these would be have been quite useful.

While the conditions on the trail were humbling, they were also filled with spectacular views, gorgeous wildflowers and adorable marmots. One of my first thoughts when I saw the marmots was: how have we not hunted these slow, cute creatures to extinction? Turns out, folks do eat them and use their fur, but apparently not in large enough numbers to impact them. So that's nice.

After the Ute Trail, we got back in our car and continued along Trail Ridge Road. The day was off to an amazing start.

No comments:

Post a Comment