Colorado Part 2 (on the new blog)

8392webThis post is mostly to serve as a reminder that my blog has moved, and it will likely be the last post here. But, the second part of my Colorado trip is now up on my new blog! Head over to abigailithompson.com/blog to check it out. And, while there, hit the subscribe button on the left side to continue to stay up to date with my work. Drop me a comment or email to let me know your thoughts on the new site or images as well!

Happy Friday everyone!

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RMNP Day Four

Our fourth day at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) was the most memorable one for me. I already told the full story of the day in my 365 post, so I won’t go into much detail here, but if interested be sure to click the link and check it out for even more pictures as well.

My family and I had decided to climb up Longs Peak on the fourth day since it looked like the weather would be the best then. I was nervous, but was intent on making it to the peak. However, altitude sickness got the best of me and I had to turn around right as the sun was beginning to come up. Luckily I was able to make it a ways up before sunrise so I was still able to get some sunrise picture. Although, I didn’t want to add any extra weight with my tripod so I had to hand hold everything (or rested my camera on a rock).

I don’t usually share personal pictures, but I thought I would share this one that I took of me and my mom on the hike back down just for fun.

While we were hiking up it was completely dark, and so although I could hear a bunch of waterfalls and streams I couldn’t see any. Turning around early ended up working out well for photographs though, because the light on all of the little streams was just perfect.

Once we got back to the parking lot we took some naps and read and just relaxed while waiting for the rest of our group to finish their hike. After a bit we decided to go on a short little hike to an old mining sight. There wasn’t much left there, but I did get some more pictures of streams and waterfalls of course.

When we got back we didn’t have long to wait before half of our group (one of my brothers and my sister) got back to the parking lot, so we chatted with them until my dad arrived to bring some of us back to the campsite. The storms were starting to roll in at that point, which created the usual amazing clouds. I couldn’t resist taking pictures so I stuck my camera out the window once again.

At the campsite I sat in my hammock reading and sleeping until my other brother and his wife came back with my mom. Since they made it to the peak they didn’t finish until 3:00pm or so. Once everyone was back we went in to town to shower for the first time all week, and eat a quick dinner since we were all too tired to make anything. On the drive back into the campsite there was a rainbow right over the valley, so I hopped out of the car to get some pictures, and was surprised by a second rainbow showing up. All I could think of was the double rainbow video, which if you haven’t seen it be sure to go check it out if you want to get a good laugh for the day.

I had been wanting to capture the mountains in the valley at sunset all week, and this was as close as I was going to get, which luckily ended up being pretty good timing.

And now I have finally shared all of the pictures from our stay at Rocky Mountain National Park; it only took me a couple of months. I hope you all enjoyed them!

RMNP Day Three

On our third day at Rocky Mountain National Park we decided to take it easy, since we were going to be climbing Longs Peak the next day. We woke up and took our time getting ready for our hike more than we usually do, so I had time to grab some pictures of the flowers around our campsite with the morning dew and sun.

Our easy hike for the day ended up being to Bierstadt Lake. The hike was a pretty steep one, and we were mostly in the woods so there wasn’t much of a view except for a few times.

When we arrived at the lake I was in awe. It was absolutely stunning there, like a dream. We spent the afternoon sitting by the lake, reading, with my feet in the water. It couldn’t have been much more perfect.

The water was so incredibly clear, and it was surprisingly warm for being a mountain lake. It was perfect for dangling my feet in while I read.

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may remember that my 365 for this day was a duck. We were sitting there relaxing and this duck swam up and just hung around us for a while. So of course I took a ton of pictures.

Then the afternoon storms started to roll in. We wanted to get down to our car before it started to rain, but my brother and dad had gone off to hike to another lake so while we waited around for them I got some more pictures of the incredibly scenery and the clouds that were moving in.

My brother started skipping rocks then, which I couldn’t avoid taking a picture of, so I went with it.

And lastly, I couldn’t leave the lake without showing some love to my analogue sunrise decorated nalgene.

 

RMNP Day Two

The second day of our stay in Rocky Mountain National Park was yet another amazing day. As I mentioned in my 365 from that day, we drove up Trail Ridge Road and had stunning views the entire way.

I will start things off with some pictures from the drive. We stopped at one point at a pull off to take in the views. There was a trail that led up to the top of that particular mountain, and we were surrounded by tundra, clouds, and more mountains. It was absolutely amazing, and I was left in awe of it all. The pictures don’t do it justice.

There were a bunch of little lakes tucked in the mountains, was yet another thing that made me fall in love with the area. It would have been amazing to be able to hike to some of them. If you look close in this photograph you can see one.

Besides the amazing, grand view, there were some tiny little details that had me in awe. I fell in love with all the little tundra flowers that were growing up there. They were so incredibly small, but have to be so strong and resilient.

After our brief stop we continued driving. I took a crazy amount of pictures out of the window while on our way, but I will only share a few. This first one I really wish the trees weren’t there, but I still love the rest of the scene so I thought I would share it anyways.

After weaving through the mountains on the country’s highest paved roads we arrived at the trailhead for the Lulu City hike and started on our way. The Lulu City was an old mining city, but all that was left of the “city” was one, barely noticeable cabin that was rotting away; only the bottom few logs were left. The hike itself didn’t have the best views but it was still a really nice hike through a drastically different type of landscape than the day before. That is one thing I loved about the Rocky Mountains, the huge range of landscapes that you come across in just one day’s hike even.

We had to cross a crazy amount of streams on our hike. There were some bridges that broke during the flooding from the snow melt that spring so it made things a little more exciting. Most were just tiny little streams though, but they added something special to the hike none the less.

And of course more flowers. I absolutely loved all the wildflowers blooming out there.

The trail ended up at the Colorado river, where we stopped to rest and eat lunch. Talk about a great spot for a picnic!

On the drive back we stopped at the Alpine Visitor Center, which had some amazing views. When we got there a huge cloud had moved in and you could hardly see anything, but luckily it moved out pretty quick and then the clouds were pretty amazing.

These two images were are very similar, but they showed off some different things and I just couldn’t decide between them.

We also stopped at a lake on the way back, since it was just a short little walk to it.

And, just like on the way to the hike, I had my camera stuck out the window for most of the drive back.

 

 

Rocky Mountain National Park Day 1

I finally finished up the editing of all the pictures from my camping trip to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) that I went on at the beginning of August, so now it is time to share. I decided the best way to do so would be to have a separate post for each day, so get ready for five long posts with lots of pictures. Hopefully you all enjoy them!

Our first full day in RMNP was close to perfect. Since it was our first day in the high elevation we went on a nice starter hike to get acclimated. An easy starter hike for my family isn’t exactly the typical easy hike though. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the trail that we took, I just know that we went past Cub Lake and hiked past Big Thompson Falls, which I thought was appropriate.

We turned back a little earlier than planned because the afternoon storm was moving in quick, and it looked like a bad one. But I have to say I enjoyed these afternoon storms, because they created some awesome cloud conditions.

That evening while we were hanging out at our campsite we got a little bit of rain, but it was completely sunny throughout the entire thing. It was absolutely beautiful, but unfortunately my photographs didn’t come close to showing just how stunning it really was.

 

 

67/365 – Longs Peak Trail

*Thursday, August 4 – Rocky Mountain National Park (Longs Peak Trail)

One of the things we had been planning on doing since we decided on this trip was to climb Longs Peak via the Keyhole route. Longs Peak, for those who don’t know, is the tallest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, and one of 53 peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado. It stands at 14,259 feet, and during the summer has a route that is considered to not be a technical one (meaning that you don’t need gear or climbing experience to reach the summit). Because of the afternoon storms that hit most days, you are supposed to begin the climb by around 3:00 am so that you can be off of the summit by early afternoon. The majority of the route is pretty much a very strenuous hike. Within the last couple miles (the route is 15 miles round trip) things get much more difficult though. The “trail” (which doesn’t really exist at that point) goes through a boulder field, and then climbing on the edge of sheer rock faces and other surfaces that require scrambling as well as some basic climbing techniques.

Wednesday night we (My two brothers, sister, sister-in-law, and mother) packed our backpacks with close to a gallon of water per person, lots of granola bars, apples, other miscellaneous food items, warm clothes (including hats and gloves), and various other items. I was extremely excited, but also nervous, about making the summit of Longs Peak. It was something that I really wanted to do. So, with nerves and excitement,  we all went to bed super early and were then up and in the car by 2:00 am Thursday morning. We got to the trail head by 2:30am or so, where we had breakfast and got set for our hike up Longs Peak. We began the hike by 2:45am with our head lamps on, at what I thought was a nice, slow pace (which is what we were supposed to do since it is such a long and exhausting hike in extremely high elevation). Not long after starting out my stomach began to feel extremely upset. At first I thought it was just due to the breakfast we ate, so I figured I would just throw up, feel better and be able to continue on. Eventually I was having to stop every so often to lean on a rock at the edge of the trail and gag and dry heave. Every time I was certain I was actually going to get sick, but I never did. The headache kicked in not too long after the nausea did, and it was absolutely excruciating. I was miserable and felt bad because I was holding the rest of the group back so much. But, I was determined to keep going because I still kept hoping that I would just throw up and feel better, allowing me to continue. I was dead set on at least making it until sunrise regardless of what happened, because I really wanted pictures of the sunrise with the view from as high as I could get. Finally, we made it to the point where a sign directed us to the Boulder Field (where things would get a lot more challenging). At this point I realized that it would just not be possible for me to make it much further, and that I was really slowing everyone else down. My mom decided (and I agreed) that we should head down. We took the hike back down very slow, stopping so that I could take pictures of the rising sun and the various waterfalls along the way.

By the time we got back down it was after 8:00am, and the altitude sickness had mostly worn off (my stomach was still fairly upset though). My mom and I sat around reading and napping for a few hours, and then decided to take another easy and short hike (around three miles) to an old gold mine site that shared a trail for a little with the Longs Peak trail. The rest of the day was spent relaxing, and then driving in to Estes Park to shower for the first time all week.

The photo below, that I chose as my main picture for my 365, is of one section of the Longs Peak trail just at sunrise.

Just for the sake of sticking with the story, here are a couple of others from the hike down as well.

This was right as the sun was just starting to come up, so it was still very dark (we were still using our head lamps). It was almost right after we began out hike down. The little white specks in the bottom of the picture are actually head lamps from other hikers that started later and were on their way up. One very cool part of the hike (despite how miserable I felt), was that when we looked up to the mountain side, all we could see were little white lights bobbing their way up the mountain.

This was just a bit further down the trail, after the sun was up a little more.

This was even further down the trail. The trail split off right before this (which I hadn’t noticed due to the dark and being sick), and the route we were taking had us staying to the left. On the way down I noticed the split, and decided to check it out because I heard running water. It ended up being one of my favorite spots of the day. Longs Peak is the one on the left.

66/365 – Duck

*Wednesday, August 3 – Rocky Mountain National Park (Bierstadt Lake)

On Wednesday we decided we needed a short hike and a relaxing day since we were planning on hiking up Longs Peak the next day. We had wanted to go to Bear Lake, but the line for the shuttle to the trail head was extremely long so we thought it would be more enjoyable to go to the less popular Bierstadt Lake. We found a great little spot to sit right next to the lake, and we were able to walk in the water a little bit since there was a little natural beach area. Most of us just sat on the rocks and read, ate some lunch, and enjoyed the beautiful weather and view. This duck swam up to us at one point and I was able to get within feet of her for some pictures. She just went right on preening as if I wasn’t there.

I obviously had pictures of the beautiful scenery and what not, but I wanted to keep my 365 diverse. I don’t want to have a week of landscape shots every single day.