DevelopIntelligence’s main office location is in Boulder, Colorado. That puts us 37.5 miles to the gates of the 415 pristine square miles that is Rocky Mountain National Park.
A couple weekends ago, Julie, Carmel, and Kyle all happened to be in RMNP on the same day (albeit with different groups). We’re in the best part of our Colorado late summer/early fall and it was a perfect time to be in the mountains. The three of us give an account of our trips:
Carmel does a 14er
I spent my Saturday making the trek up Longs Peak (14,259 ft), in Rocky Mountain National Park. We chose the less technical Keyhole Route and set our alarms for 2:30am.
We arrived at trailhead around 3:30am, threw on our packs, did some last minute stretching and set out on our quest, our headlamps illuminating the path.
The hike was GRUELING. With over 5,000ft in elevation gain, this hike is not recommended for novice hikers or those new to Colorado’s high altitudes. I often found myself stopping to catch my breath, drink large gulps of water or simply stop to look back and survey my progress. I grew so fatigued during the hike that my husband, Malcolm, had to carry my pack! I did use trekking poles for the first time, which helped conserve most of my energy and also provided a significant upper-body workout!
Once above treeline, the sunrise greeted us and exposed the many mountain peaks in RMNP. The way the sunlight bounced off of rocky crags and mirror-like mountain lakes was astounding, and certainly worth waking up early for.
As we approached the summit, we had to scale an enormous boulder field, scrambling up rocks the size of VW bugs to get to the keyhole. From there, hikers traverse sheer rock faces to climb their way to the summit, which is surprisingly flat. The views at summit are spectacular, but we became increasingly aware that we still had to make our way down and had 3-4 hours of hiking before we reached the parking lot.
I was often scared, uncomfortable, tired, hungry and incredibly thirsty. At times I was blisteringly cold (my fingertips lost sensation at several times on the hike) but as the sun came out, I had sweat most of my sunblock off and was feeling the heat.
After the hike, I was so sore that I couldn’t do much except lie on the couch and drink margaritas. I took an ice batch to ease the ache in my quads, which helped. I did have a great time on the hike but it was brutal – a must for savvy mountain climbers and those looking to experience one of CO’s hardest peaks!
Julie goes on a chill kayak ride
Fall arrives early at Rocky Mountain national park. Bright yellow leaves are dispersed along the way to Estes Park in mid-September, turning the drive north on hwy 72 to a brilliant display of vibrant autumn colors.
It’s a cloudy day and the cool breeze feels wonderful. The park is busy, even on a weekday. The parking lots are full when we arrive, so we hop on the shuttle towards the Bear Lake trailhead.
We make our way up to Bierstadt lake, where the fall colors become brighter. The trail is quiet and peaceful, with endless photo opportunities. After a quick climb, we make it to the lake and spend the morning sitting by the water and gazing at the magnificent rocky mountains rising behind the lake.
In the afternoon, we rent kayaks and cruise charming Lake Estes. The winds get stronger and give us a great workout while enjoying the silence on the water. Our fall day trip ends with a slice of tart cherry pie and vanilla ice cream, enjoyed on the way home at the quaint Colorado Cider Company.
Kyle pulls off an impromtu campout
Sometimes you really need to thoroughly plan a camping trip. You need to have exactly the right permits, gear, food, bear canisters, and everything well dialed in. But other times, it’s really fun to get a bunch of people in a car with their backpacks and just go. A couple weekends ago, a couple new friends, one old friend, and I did just that.
We decided on Rocky Mountain National Park because one friend had a National Park pass and I had never been there. We rolled into Estes Park after a lot of traffic and bought food for the night. We found the Ranger Station and they told us what was available. We decided on a place called Thunder Lake and after probably 10 stops total that day, we were finally at the trailhead.
We were doing backpack camping, where you have to bring everything into the campsite. I do enjoy car camping from time to time but it’s really nice to get away from people and their motorhome generators. After a fairly indoorsy summer, it felt good to do a challenging hike with some weight on my back.
The hike up was gorgeous and just hard enough to be satisfying (6.8 miles). On the way up, we met a friendly Swiss guy who works with satellites and weather data in Boulder. He was the only other person camping up there and we invited him to join us.We had brought the makings for a mixed quinoa curry. I packed a bag full of oil, hot sauce, and Indian spices to mix into our dish. Nans, the Swiss guy, contributed some bacon grease and other items to our mixed bowl. It was spicy, hot, and delicious on a chilly mountain night. Good company, good food, and a quiet forest is an amazing combo.
There was no moon that night and we finished the night laying on the dark lake beach taking in the stars.
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