Rocky Mountain National Park

Day 2 of our Denver trip was just as beautiful as the first.

We spent the day at Rocky Mountain National Park. Now, this park is HUGE, so we only saw a portion of it. It's about an hour and a half outside of Denver and some parts simply aren't accessible until later in the year. Still, we had enough to keep us busy for a full day.

We started out by visiting the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. A nice ranger advised us where to spend our time, handed the boys their Jr. Ranger books, and then we were on our way. First stop, Bear Lake.

As we pulled up to Bear Lake we noticed everyone else had snow shoes and poles and we had none of those things. We decided to try anyway. Two steps onto the snowy path and we slipped and slid and fell. It was hilarious. I was ready to turn back, but Ben realized that if we walked on the edge of the path where the snow (all 55 inches of it according to the ranger) wasn't packed, it was alright.

[caption id="attachment_2666" align="aligncenter" width="300"]My Bear Lake Buddy My Bear Lake Buddy[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2664" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Bear Lake. Frozen over and covered in snow. Bear Lake. Frozen over and covered in snow.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2667" align="aligncenter" width="300"]My guys My guys[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2665" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Taking the path less traveled. Taking the path less traveled.[/caption]

There's really not much to do here. You walk just a short bit, through the woods, and then you're on the lake. It's just cool to be out on the frozen lake!

[caption id="attachment_2671" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Cub Pool Cub Pool[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2670" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Cub Lake Cub Lake[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2677" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Stairs Stairs[/caption]


[caption id="attachment_2675" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Mountain View Mountain View[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2674" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Tree climbing Tree climbing[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2673" align="aligncenter" width="200"]I'm the King of the World! I'm the King of the World![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2672" align="aligncenter" width="200"]"There's no life without adventure!" "There's no life without adventure!"[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2668" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Black Billed Magpie Black Billed Magpie[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2669" align="aligncenter" width="200"]What a ham! What a ham![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2676" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Pine cone Pine cone[/caption]

Our last stop in the park was the Alluvial Fan. The park ranger had recommended it to us and we loved it. It was the highlight of our day.

We parked at the far parking lot and started walking. We followed the path to the second parking lot and then turned around.

CO-Alluvial-Fan CO-Alluvial-Fan-ben-and-boys CO-Alluvial-Fan-Ben-on-Boulder CO-Alluvial-Fan-Boulders


Ben decided he wanted to climb up the waterfall. I felt it was a bit steep for the boys so he went up and around while the boys and I crossed the stream and then began our ascent. By the time we got across the stream and up to the boulders on the other side, I realized how large they were. I had the boys go in front of me and told them not to go on ahead. They scrambled up some jagged rocks and then hoisted themselves up on a large granite boulder that had a handy little ledge on it. I began to climb up after them but had to go off to the side a bit. Unfortunately, that side of the boulder was slick. I was halfway up when I went to put my toes on the ledge to hoist up the rest of the way and my foot slid right off. My hands scrambled to grab a hold of the boulder but there was nothing. I was filled with sheer panic and, as a last-ditch effort, I flung myself onto the rock with my arms wide. There still wasn't a handhold or foothold, but my weight was able to keep me hanging on.

I lay on the boulder, my heart racing, praying that I wouldn't fall. Overwhelming fear crashed over me in waves but I knew that freaking out wouldn't help. Meanwhile, the boys were completely oblivious. Luke was trying to go on ahead and I had to tell him, face down on the granite, to STAY PUT.

I was rational enough to think "Don't grab onto the boys!" but that only terrified me more: the thought that in my panic I might grab onto them anyway and bring them down with me. I was horrified at the though.

Gabe was wiggling around on the rock trying to find a comfortable spot to sit and I was freaked out that one of them would hit a slick spot and tumble off of the rock. There was nothing I could to prevent them from falling.

My mind flashed back to last year at Yosemite when we had reached a waterfall that had large boulders at the bottom. Most of the visitors were climbing over the boulders in order to get closer to the falls. A sign was posted warning people that the wet granite boulders were very slick and that people had died from falling on them. Gabe and I had hung back, but I remember being skeptical: how could you die from falling on the boulders? It wasn't like people were climbing UP the waterfall, just TO the waterfall. Clinging to that rock, I knew. The boulder was slick and the rocks below me were jagged. It really wasn't much of a drop for me, but if I went down sideways, or backward, or even if I slid down the boulder but fell at the uneven bottom, I could easily be seriously injured. And the boys? I didn't want to think about it.

Everything was suddenly very intense. I was so aware of how alone I was, how loud the falls were, how helpless I was. I was scared to move and scared not to move.

Finally, I verrrrry slowly pulled my leg up and placed it on the ledge. I scooted it closer to where the boys had climbed up and I was able to get a grip. I slowly shimmied my way up the rock and was able to get into a sitting position.

Thank you, Jesus.

I was still terrified and kept telling the boys to SIT STILL. I was trying to be firm without freaking them out. Ben was up and behind us. I twisted around to see him. He motioned for us to come up to him. Luke kept crabbing that he wanted to keep climbing but I was way to freaked out to go any further. I motioned to Ben to come down to us. He was confused. I gave him the death look and he knew something was wrong.

He carefully picked his way over the boulders and made his way to us. I yelled to him about the granite not being safe and that we needed help getting down. I told him not to come down our way, but to go around. Finally, he made his way to us and helped the boys and I down.

My head was still spinning and I wasn't very coherent. I told him that I'd almost slipped and it freaked me out. He understood and we made our way to safer ground. We were almost back to the car. I snapped a few more pictures, but I was done. All the magic was gone. I was ready to get back.

CO-Alluvial-Fan-Luke CO-Alluvial-Fan-Jenn CO-Alluvial-Fan-Luke-Viewer CO-Alluvial-Fan-Gabe-Viewer CO-Alluvial-Fan-Ben

CO-Alluvial-Fan-Waterfall CO-Alluvial-Van-Rocks-and-Rocks

[caption id="attachment_2682" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Ben at the top of the falls. Ben at the top of the falls.[/caption]

We headed back to the Ranger Station so the boys could get their Jr. Ranger badges. Unfortunately, they were closed!! I guess I'll be mailing them in!


[caption id="attachment_2690" align="aligncenter" width="200"]Rock stack Rock stack[/caption]

We did get to see these cute mule deer and another friendly magpie.

CO-Alluvial-Fan-Magpie CO-Mule-Deer

Down in Estes Park we saw a huge herd of elk.


As we headed home, my CO friend texted me to alert me to the fact that a blizzard was expected beginning early the next day. I was so grateful, because I'd been oblivious the weather.

We headed to Trader Joe's to stock up on groceries and then headed back to our rental.

Needless to say, we were all exhausted and slept well that night!


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