*Friday, July 6
This stream went right past our campsite at Whitewater State Park, it was perfect.
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).
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.
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.
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.
And, just like on the way to the hike, I had my camera stuck out the window for most of the drive back.
*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.
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 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.
I decided I needed something other than flowers and spring related stuff for my picture today. I was stumped until I went to do the dishes. I have been wanting to do some splashing pictures for such a long time now, and this was the next best option for the moment. Plus the water was sparkling because of the sun coming in the window.