Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Final Days at Lake Granby and Moving On

I got a text from my Dad saying he and Mom were going to come up to see us one more time before we left the Grand Lake area. He said that he would arrive on Sunday, August 21 in the afternoon. To most people, afternoon means around 2 or so. Not to my father...Afternoon means 12:01, I should have known that.

I was thinking they would arrive about 2, so I decided to go fishing up on that stream below Cascade Falls in RMNP. I made the drive and then got ready to hike the mile in to the creek. Just as I was getting ready to leave the truck, three women started their hike. They asked me to pass, but I declined. They looked like they were going to be moving faster than I. Well, as it turned out we walked the whole mile together. We had a nice conversation about the full time RV lifestyle and their own plans to buy RV's and travel the US. The mile was over before I knew it. We parted ways and I hit the stream.

It was a perfect day with almost no wind and about 65 degrees.

The trout were all over the stream, but extremely skittish. I tried to be very stealthy, but they were better than me on this day. I had a couple come up and take a look, but no takers for the fly I was offering. I really did not care, it was an amazing day and I was just soaking in the cool mountain air.

I checked my phone right about noon and saw a text from Dad. He gave his ETA as Noon or a little after. I decided that the fish weren't cooperating anyway, so I would head on back. I walked the mile quickly to work on my cardio. 3.3 MPH, not bad for 9000 feet. I stopped at the little grocery in Grand Lake Village and picked up some nice steaks for dinner.

I made it back by about 1 and I guess Mom and Dad had just arrived. I jumped in the shower and then enjoyed the afternoon visiting with them. Dad has been having trouble with his leg. At the time, he did not know what was going on, but he later found out that he had one of two conditions and the good news that both are treated the same. Hopefully, he will be good to go in a few weeks.

I fixed an early dinner, and then we went to their motel to watch the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. We did not get to see as much of the Olympics as we would like, but we did follow the results on an app on my phone. We still only have OTA TV and are still happy with that decision. It really is not about money, it is really about pushing us out of the trailer and getting out and enjoying the places we visit. I have to admit, it would be nice on rainy days.

I fixed some fresh blueberry syrup and blueberry pancakes for breakfast the next morning and then Mom and Dad got on the road back home. It was great seeing them and spending some quality time with them. They will be celebrating their 60th anniversary on September 8.

On August 23, we decided it was time to move west. We got everything loaded and got the trailer hooked up. We had stayed at Sunset point for 12 days. We really liked the campground and the hosts were excellent, but we were ready for hookups. Our batteries are very weak and we have been contemplating what is the best solution for us. More on that later.

We headed down to Granby and then West on Hwy 40. The drive was right along the Colorado river. Just after the town of Hot Sulpher Springs we went into a cool canyon. Kim took a few shots from the truck.

The Mighty Colorado River in late August
We drove on and I knew I had a large pass in front of me. Rabbit Ears Pass is only about 9600 feet. It couldn't be that bad... could it. We made it up with no issues. The drive was really pretty easy. Then there was a flat area for about 5 miles, then the signs warned of a 7% grade. This downhill was tough. It had almost no turns and no breaks all the way down to Steamboat Springs. About half way down, I could tell the brakes were getting hot and I decided to stop and let them cool. I checked the fronts and they were almost 500 degrees. The rest of the brakes including the trailer were around 200 degrees. We waited until all was back under 200 and then dialed up a little more trailer brakes and headed on down without incident.

We passed through Steamboat Springs and remembered being there with the whole family in 2006. We then drove on down the Yampa River Valley to Yampa River State Park. The park was almost empty and we backed into site 29. It is a big site with a HUGE cottonwood tree at the back corner.

In talking to the ladies in the office, they told me that the river is not float-able right now due to low water and the fishing was not good. I was concerned and only paid for one night. My spirits came up a bit when I walked out to the rivers edge and saw some trout feeding on the top of the water along the far bank. Hmmm, maybe this place might not be so bad. Come back to see how our visit to the Yampa Valley turns out.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

One of the Most Beautiful Places on Earth - RMNP

On Saturday, August 20, we decided to take another trip through Rocky Mountain National Park. We left the campground around noon and headed over Trail Ridge Road. It was a beautiful sunny day.

You just never get tired of the amazing views. We saw this large herd of elk on the way up. We would see the same group on the return trip.

We stopped at the visitors center at Moraine Park. Then we made the short drive to the Fern Lake trail head and found a place to park. We were not ready for a long hike, so we walked about 2 miles up the trail and then returned at a leisurely pace. It was a good way to loosen up the sore muscles. The walk included some beautiful mountain views.

We saw the signs for Bear Lake said the parking was full. We decided to go up there anyway to see the views along the road. They were awesome, but when we got to the parking area, there were plenty of spaces. We parked and walked the 100 yards to the lake.

Our time was running out, because we wanted to make church in Estes Park. Kim wanted to walk around the lake, which is only about a mile. I told her we had to hurry. She said, "Let's Go!" So much for taking it easy. We made it around the lake in record time. I did take a few seconds to take these pictures. It is a beautiful place.

We made it to church on time and then stopped at Subway and picked up a sandwich for dinner. We stopped at a picnic area and decided to take the "Old Road" back over the top. I am really glad we did. This is the original road to Grand Lake. It is dirt, but passable by any passenger car. The views were special and ones we had not seen before.

I took a bunch of pictures. We loved this 9 mile drive. Here we are approaching the top. This is where it joins back up with Trail Ridge road.

Looking back down the canyon we just drove up.

Once we got back on the TR road, we came upon those elk again. This time they were moving across the road.

Kim took this one out the window. He was right next to the truck.

To cap off this awesome day, we saw two bull elk fighting on the far side of this lake. I did not get any good pictures, but shot this short video. The quality is not great, but I will publish this to remember the moment.

This was one of those days when we were both tired and really did not have our Mojo. You just have those days and usually follow a major high like seeing the moose the previous day. RMNP, would have none of that. This park picked up our spirits and by the end of the day we were again in awe of this amazing place. Happy 100th Birthday to our National Parks. We LOVE them!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cascade Falls Hike - Rocky Mountain National Park

On August 19, we decided that we were ready for another hike. This time we would go a bit further. We selected the Cascade Falls hike because it was about 7.5 miles round trip and did not have too much elevation gain. Kim would debate that last point. Hey, we are in the mountains...They do go up.

We got our normal late start and made it to the trail head around 10:30. The trail head parking was full, but we found a place just down the road.  It began as a beautiful day, that would change. The walk started with a downhill. We both knew that meant an uphill at the end of the hike. Then it leveled off and it was just a nice walk through meadows. At the 1 mile point we came to this beautiful little stream. I could see the fish in there. I said then, I would be back, fly rod in hand.

Here is a shot of my lovely wife by this lovely stream.

We continued up this valley. Soon we were surrounded by large rock outcroppings and the trail would start to get more rocky.

We came to the top of a small hill and had a nice view of the valley and surrounding mountains. Another couple joined us there and we took pictures for each other.

The trail continued up the valley and was fairly steep at times and got a bit narrow. It was beautiful.

As we continued up the valley, we could begin to hear the sound of water crashing through the rocks in the valley below us. We would periodically get a glimpse of the water through the trees. We were looking for the waterfall, but the views above us were breathtaking...or was it that we were having trouble catching our breath in the high mountain air.

We finally made it to Cascade Falls. It was very pretty, but tough to photograph. There were lots of individual falls that all together were beautiful. We found a nice place to sit on a big rock right next to the falls.

While we were eating lunch, we started hearing some thunder. We were almost 4 miles from the truck, so we put on our rain coats and found a dry place under a tree. Those spruce trees provide great cover and we did not get wet at all when the rain came. It rained for about 15 minutes and then just sprinkled off and on for the rest of the hike.

The rocks glistened in the sun that was now breaking through the clouds. It was beautiful.

We decided to start back and very quickly we noticed that things were different after the rain. First off, we were all by ourselves. There were a few others out on the trail, but they had gone back. Then we started seeing wildlife. I guess they knew the people would leave and they came out. First a few deer by the side of the trail:

This one was not shy at all:

Then a mother with two late season spotted fawns. The spots were almost gone.

We were walking down the trail when we saw a guy in the trail motioning for us to be quiet and come quickly. There were to very large bull moose standing right by the trail just in front of us. We approached slowly and were ready to run, but the moose just stayed there and ate the tall grass. We had to walk by them on the trail. They were about  20 feet from us. They started to move around, but did not seem agitated and were just looking for better grass. Here are a bunch of pics of the encounter.

All of those pictures were taken standing on the trail with my phone. No telephoto lens, just the wide angle on the camera.

It was an awesome experience. I have heard for years how mean a moose can be, but these seemed very mellow. I guess they were not ready to mate yet. I am also sure these see plenty of tourists in this area and know they are not in danger. This was one of the top 10 experiences in all of our travels. Just amazing.

We headed back to our campground and were relaxing after the long hike, when we heard more intense thunder and saw lighting all around the lake. Then the hail started. Soon the ground was white with hail.

The hail did not get too large and thankfully we did not see any significant damage around the camp. Dad tells me that it is rare to have large hail up in the mountains. It does not have time to accumulate much ice when it is falling to a higher elevation. Good to know.

Well that is it for this very memorable day. We still had much exploring in RMNP we wanted to do and I really wanted to get back to that little stream to fly fish. Stop back by to see how much of that we were able to do in the coming days.