Friday, 8:46 a.m.: It was cooler and overcast, and when I first looked out the window I noticed ice on the windshield of the rental car. When we left for breakfast, we noticed that there appeared to be frost on the trees in the surrounding mountains.
It took us a while to pack, and we knew we had to drive back to Denver for the Sabbath. Therefore, we didn’t have enough time for a hike. We did have time to drive through the park and investigate a few scenic views. From Estes Park, we drove into the National Park through the Fall River entrance, following Route 34 along Trail Ridge Road.
10:31 a.m.: We stopped and confirmed that there was a light frost in the trees and on the ground.
11:01 a.m.: We continued driving west on Trail Ridge Road, gaining altitude. We finally drove above the treeline (and the clouds), finding a clear and sunny day waiting for us. We stopped at Rainbow Curve, at 10,829′ elevation, to enjoy the view and the greatly improved weather:
11:17 a.m.: We continued our drive west, stopping next at the Forest Canyon Overlook at 11,716′ elevation, where we walked about 0.1 miles from the road to enjoy the view of Forest Canyon:
A lone elk was about 100 yards away:
12:17 p.m.: We continued our drive west, stopping at Rock Cut, which featured the 0.5 mile Toll Memorial Trail. The trail led past “mushroom rocks.” A sign explained that “the dark-colored schist was originally sand, silt, and clay at the bottom of a long-departed sea. Molten magma from deep in the earth invaded the schist and gradually cooled into the lighter-colored granite. Mushroom shapes were formed when the granite stems eroded quicker than the schist caps.”
We continued to the end of the half-mile trail, where other rocks presented a short scramble to enjoy a nice view.
A memorial sign indicated that there was a mountain index on top of the rock. Obviously, the Toll Memorial Trail was a memorial to a man named Toll, who had been Superintendent of three national parks during his life:
Scrambling to the top of the rocks, I photographed the mountain index:
The view was beautiful:
1:01 p.m.: We continued our drive west, with the road topping 12,000′ (slightly higher than we had hiked the day before). The road then began dropping, and our next stop was at Milner Pass over the Continental Divide, at 10,759′.
Adjacent to Milner Pass was the small but pretty Poudre Lake.
We continued driving west, leaving the park, and then circling to the south of it and back east to Denver. We enjoyed another Sabbath in Denver, then on Sunday flew back to New York.
So in a week of hiking in Colorado, I experienced:
Sunday: Flatirons, Boulder, 4.5 miles, 1500′ gain, 1500′ loss
Monday: Green Mountain, Boulder, 8.5 miles, 2400′ gain, 2400′ loss
Tuesday: Bear Peak, Boulder, 8 miles, 2400′ gain, 2400′ loss
Wednesday: Odessa Lake, 10.5 miles, 1200′ gain, 2400′ loss
Thursday: Chasm Lake, 9 miles, 2400′ gain, 2400′ loss
TOTAL: 40.5 miles, 9900′ gain, 11,100′ loss
That was fewer miles than my totals from Glacier of two years earlier, but more elevation gain and loss. It was a fun trip!