A great day at Rocky Mountain National Park

sign rocky mountain national park colorado rmnpThe floods came and went months ago, wreaking destruction on both the city of Lyons and Highway 36 from Lyons up to Estes Park, gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. While these floods impacted everyone in our community to a greater or lesser extent, my own experience was more about going stir crazy with the kids than the water itself (as I explain here: Home Life during the Boulder Flood).

My ex had more issues, with the floodwaters sweeping through the edge of her acreage and taking out half of their road. Fortunately, their house was untouched — handy building on a hill — so everything flood-related has receded into the past.

Until A-, my 17yo exercise-enthused daughter, decided yesterday morning that we should go up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a hike. And as it was a beautiful day and we had nothing else on the agenda, it seemed like a splendid plan.

It’s also been a rough few days with my son G- (almost 14) and since he wanted to hang out at a friend’s house rather than with us, spending the afternoon out in the wilderness with just my girls sounded quite nice. Even better, we had a bonus girl join us, a good friend of K-‘s who is also in fourth grade, but at a different school, and is always good company.

Here are the two of them enjoying the view at the top of the trail:

Two girls gazing at the distant mountains, rmnp

After a slow start out the door, we finally started driving up to Lyons and then up the mountain pass to Estes Park, the city on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. The journey took twice as long as usual, however, because of the continued construction and repair work from the flood. Indeed, it was sobering to see the eroded highways along the river, the new banks of fill and dirt, and the bridges fixed along the way. I could even pay attention because A- drove the whole way up: she’s an excellent driver!

There were a number of houses and other buildings still visibly damaged from the flood, some being rebuilt but others looking not very different from the day that the waters receded and they could return to assess the damage. Heartbreaking, even as the rational portion of my brain reminded me that they bought in a known flood plain, aware that a house along a creek in a mountain canyon had its risks.

We made it up to Estes Park and found that the cafe where we wanted to eat lunch was closed and my Yelp skills failed me in the tiny town, so we ended up at a pretty mediocre Mexican place. That’s generous. It was pretty miserable. But good enough to fuel us up.

Then it was up the road to Rocky Mountain National Park itself, and it was gorgeous up there. Cold, especially some of the mountain overlooks, but just stunning, as you can see from my photos.

rocky mountain peak covered in snow

We tried a few trailheads, but the accumulated snow meant that they were hard to navigate, so we ended up at a popular trail called Deer Mountain. As described: “Fine views, pleasant hiking and a picnic on top make this trip a hiking favorite. Summit elevation 10,013.”

We didn’t make it to the top – turns out that winter hiking can be cold even on a beautiful day – but had a great time going about a mile up the trail and playing in the snow. Then we headed back down the mountain and again stopped at Estes Park, this time for a sweet break: Candy apples for the younger girls and a small container of English Toffee for me that was amazingly good.

Down the hill, through Lyons, and home via Whole Foods for some dinner, including one of my favorites, chicken ramen soup.

A day very well spent, and even better, when I picked up G- from his friend’s home last night, he was in a chipper mood and we had a very pleasant evening, the four of us. This morning he and I are heading up to Greeley for a basketball game, wrapping up another week.

And so we get by, day by day. Day by day…

2 comments on “A great day at Rocky Mountain National Park

  1. I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while now. Especially loved your beautiful photos today and hearing about how Lyons is faring. “Day by day…” ; it’s so true. (I have an almost-14 year old boy as well!)

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