As promised to many of you, though a little late, here is a recap of our most recent vacation, we hope you enjoy. :)
A week ago we got back from a week vacation with Jen's family. Troy and I rode our motorcycles out to Estes Park, Colorado while the girls rode together in the Highlander. We left on Friday with perfect weather drove through South Dakota and arrived on Sunday afternoon to our campsite at Moraine campground in a pretty heavy rain. It cleared up in an hour or so. In fact pretty much every day it rained from 2pm to 4pm and was partly cloudy and pretty good the rest of the time. For temps at the 8,000' level where the campsite was, it was mid to high 40's at night and high 70's to low 80's during the day. But pretty much every day Jen and I wore our fleece jackets as we were higher up where it was chilly and very windy a lot of the time. At one point in the week we ran into an overlook where the ground all around us was freshly covered with sleet and snow.
Monday, Jen and I went out to explore the park and found that the air was thin up there. We really noticed it during our hikes, which surprised us since we had changed our workouts at home thinking it would help prepare us for this. Fact is, we live at 950' in elevation, our campsite was around 8,000', and some of the spots we ended up visiting was between 12,000' to 14,000' in elevation. We were flatlanders in foreign territory.
We saw elk, lots of mule deer, big horn sheep, moose, gray jay's, fuzzy cute birds called Clark's Nutcracker, smelly llamas, the puppy-like marmots, and pikas. I have to admit I really liked the marmots and pikas and they made me smile and laugh often.
We drove up Trail Ridge road is a must for anyone that goes out there. I really enjoyed visiting the Toll Memorial Trail that is right off of the road. There were marmots, pikas, a neat marker at the top of a bolder pile at the top of the hill, and wide open views of many mountains in all directions surrounding us. Further up the road was the Alpine Visitor center which had a great view and the mountain side was littered with mule deer sunning themselves.
We hiked around Bear Lake, Sprague lake (and fished this lake too), several other hikes that led to water falls. The major trek being up the Longs Peak Trail by Peacock pool on up to the beautiful greenish-blue Chasm Lake, where Jenny dipped her feet into the 35 degree snow melt lake. Jordon and I went a bit further and dunked our heads in, but Andrew took the prize for stripping down to his boxers and totally jumping in.....twice. The second time was for the photo for proof of craziness.
Wednesday, Jen and I had a day fishing with a guide. We fished the Big Thompson river, the St. Vrain river, and the Alluvial Falls where we caught brookies, browns, and Greenback Cutthroat trout. Our luck was on Hopper and midge patterns like the mercury midge and the RS2. Later that day is when I landed my first fish on my Tenkara rod, a 10" brookie that took a #14 Hemingway Caddis along the trail of Sprague lake.
The evenings were filled with family gathering around the campfire at our campsite with many conversations going on at once with suppers, munchies, cocktails, cigars, and stories to share. We had three campsites for the thirteen of us, all in a row. In the mornings we would wake up at sunrise and watch the deer walk among the tents while grazing. They must have been on the Parks Payroll, as they gave us plenty of photo opportunities every morning.
Thursday morning Troy and Laurie headed out to Sturgis, South Dakota on the Harley where they would spend the next week of their vacation at the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally. The rest of us broke camp Friday morning and all made our ways back to our home states of California, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Our 15.5 hour drive via Nebraska with the idea of making it back over two days, turned out to be a 17 hour drive straight through with a small forced break at the Perkins in Albert Lee, MN to wait a thunderstorm out that had winds reaching 55 mph. Not the best thing to be driving through, pulling a loaded trailer late at night and having been on the road all day. But really there was nothing between Omaha, NE and Des Moines, IA, and when we reached Des Moines I thought we could make it home with now issues. We finally pulled in around 3am Saturday morning and immediately found the bed. A very welcome site for our lower backs after the putting on over 1,000 miles on the motorcycle, long hikes in the mountains, sleeping on the ground all week, and of course after sitting in the truck all day for the drive home.
|15 minutes earlier we had clear skies|
|Toll Memorial Boundary Marker|
|face on this 30' tall boulder.|
|Park Ranger & her 3 smelly llamas|
|Me with first Greenback Cutthroat|
|Jen with first Greenback Cutthroat|