Friday, September 14, 2012

Rocky Mountain National Park

Zen-like View

Climbing out of the Colorado desert titanic mountains march North-South in a massive migration spanning eons and stretching from Canada to Mexico.  Meet the Rocky Mountains.

Travelling at maximum speed takes forever to get there.  Driving Eastward at 80 mph behold behemoths reaching for the sky in a slow motion dance highlighted by the sun and underscored by shifting shadows.  Clouds form, gather, and vanish above, around, and in front of the mountains like characters in a play.  The Rockies face the Heavens above and creatures below with indifferent magnificence.

Eventually, climbing up foothills, up the mountain skirt steeply the landscape changes to dense bush, the air thins, and panting, almost gasping for oxygen you end up on the Continental Divide.  The Pacific watershed lies westward, the Atlantic watershed eastward, and each is impossibly far.  At this point in the range the altitude is a mere 9,523 feet above sea level; the summit road reaches an altitude of 12.300 feet with Zen-like views.

Accessing the Rocky Mountain National Park is most convenient from Estes Park, a small alpine city with every sort of accommodation, although the most intimate way to this national treasure is by camping.  Either way, this formidable high-altitude expanse is rewarding, yielding extreme sights.

Alberta Falls

West of Estes Park is Alberta Falls, a robust gushing waterfall within hiking distance from the parking lot.  Sparkling alpine water is a refreshing sight cascading and thundering down granite boulders, delightful to behold.   Climbing to the top and seeing the water tumbling, or staying at trail's end to enjoy the display is certainly worth the effort.

Bear Lake
A strenuous oxygen-deprived two mile hike from the falls delivers a group of alpine lakes the closest of which is Bear Lake, quaint and classic with jutting granite peak backdrops.

Abyss Falls

Intrepid drivers may tackle a one way dirt road steeply climbing from near the park entrance to the summit.  On the way to the top is a hidden gem called Abyss Falls.  This waterfall is continuously carving solid granite into a narrow tubular channel tumbling precipitously into the abyss: a fluid yet steadfast sculpture.

Jagged Moutains

Jagged mountains impress upon all sides on the trek to the top.

Summit - RMNP
Approaching the highest peaks accessible by car is rendered dramatic by rarefied air and endless vistas.
Elevation 12,301feet, more than two miles high is crystal clear, the atmosphere a rugged ambiance.  And, the alpine setting is rich in wildlife.  Nature's bounty is abundantly clear.

Nature's Bounty
Plentiful elk roam gracefully grazing and posing; suddenly sprinting and galloping away; tolerating humans up to a point, bolting when spooked, they're gone.  Here one minute, miles away the next, effortlessly, foraging, drinking melted snow pooled here and there and everywhere conveniently placed in this wildlife playground.  Often, summer thunderstorms turn even the most idyllic hill tops into moody mountains.

Moody Mountain
Fresh air combining with vast vistas fuels the imagination, flaring into ancestral dreams.  And everything is green.  Patches of snow persist well into August highlighting verdant mosses with their complimentary orange lichen.  Alpine views greet you as if smiling.

Alpine View

Crows crackle their craven craw, gliding, soaring, searching: a murder in flux.

Crows Crackle

Marmots scurry in and out of dens stopping to stare and wiggle whiskers: sniffing out the air.

Scurrying Marmot

Distant hawks keen their killing cries while pikas screech high pitched notes ears piercing anew and Elk Bull bugles his mating calls, in rut.

Elk Bull
Suddenly the realization hits that we are like aliens from another planet freshly landed and witnessing a fragile system best left untouched, a prime directive to not interfere: to look and not touch or it will break and shatter like a broken dream.

And yet this is home.  Peace descends like a warm shower.  Little things show off their beauty.  The lichen seems a little redder, the sky a little bluer, smells a tad more pungent, and sounds a whole lot keener; even touching is sharper, describing jagged rock edges and smooth moss textures.  In short, senses are heightened and freedom reigns at one with nature and yourself: atone.


  1. I lived and worked in Estes Park for 12 years. RMNP is a Wonderland!

    1. It truly is Sharon! Loved the place. Estes Park would be an awesome place to live. Maybe someday.... :)
      Thanks for your comment. I guess this brought back some memories!