23.07.2010 - 23.07.2010 30 °C
I left Boulder north on US 36 and travelled parallel to the rocky peaks for about an hour before turning west into the mountain range and the town of Estes Park, a gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. After stopping off at a Safeway (yes the supermarket actually still exists here!) I made for the National Park entrance. I stumped up $80 for an annual pass to all federal recreational grounds. As I'm planning to visit a number of National Parks and it costs $25 on average a time to enter one, this should work out well. Upon entering the Park I went by the Moraine Park Visitor Centre. The volunteer staff are very well informed and they guide I spoke to recommended a scenic hike for me to do this afternoon and an apparently stunning drive for tomorrow morning.
I ate lunch and wrote postcards at a spectacular mountain outlook and then drove up to be blissful Bear Lake to begin my 9 mile loop hike to Mills Lake. The hike was pretty straightforwards and gave an abundance of stops to take photos and just enjoy where I was. For some reason I had expected the Rockies to resemble the rolling green mountains I visited when I treked the Ecuadorian Andes four years ago. Far from it. Here in Colorado the Rockies are dark and bruding, with pine trees lining the horizon and large granite boulders erupt from the earth where they don't.
The one thing that I will really remember from this hike? The air is saturated with the smell of pines. I don't think I'll have to wash these clothes for quite some time now. There is a great thing about these National Parks, or rather should that be Americans? They are spectacuarly stunning and of course attract many visitors in summer. You might think that would be an annoyance? Well most Americans don't tend to wander more than 50m from their vehicles, so escaping the bustle is really quite easy. I was back at Bear Lake late in the late afternoon and made my return to Estes Park and my first visit to the hostel where I would be spending the night. It was a nice little place. The only word of caution given to me by the lady who runs the place? A bear strolled up the exterior stairs to the front door last night, "so we try to keep it shut at night." Good plan!
I'm absolutely exhausted from today and definitely need my rest.