Hike Like A Woman’s Chief Adventure Officer Annie tells us about the second leg of her crazy fun trip. After OR she and her mother took off to explore the Rocky Mountains. Here is “One Crazy Trip – Part II” follows. For part I click here.
Outdoor Retailer was done, at least until I got home and started follow ups but for now I left the city behind, headed for the mountains and less populated places. On this trip, during the entire time I was at OR, my Mom was pretty much on her own for entertainment & activities.
Yes, I had brought my Mom with me on this trip. She’s my best friend, we get along amazingly, more like sisters rather than Mother & Daughter, and she’s always wanted to go out West. This trip wasn’t just about me or Hike Like A Woman, there was a side plot, a plot to tick a few things off my Mom’s bucket list. A 62 year old diabetic with a 6” titanium rod in her back plus a hip made of ceramic with a titanium ball in the joint, yup, she’s a badass in her own right.
First stop, Lookout Mountain! Gravesite of Buffalo Bill Cody, home to amazing views and if you arrive early, very few people. Still operating my internal clock on Central Time was finally playing to my advantage. Sightseeing, photography, a little walking and I finally got to act like a tourist before we hit the road to our next stop.
Fellow Ambassadors Stephanie & Kathryn awaited us at a little burger place in a small city a ways off I-80, nestled in a small town. I finally got to meet Stephanie!!! She’s an ambassador from my class, 16’-17’, but couldn’t make the retreat last year so almost two years later and I finally got put my arms around her! Kathryn I had met the previous year at the retreat and I was ecstatic to see her again. The added bonus was they both brought their adorable kids I had gotten to see in pictures and learn so much about on social media.
We spent longer visiting than we intended, time kind of got a way from us as we chatted while the kids played happily together. It felt familiar, like this wasn’t my first or second meeting of these two. The feeling was more of old friends getting together after a long time apart than it was of a new acquaintances. I was sorry to part ways with them, I could spend day after day with them both.
Up the Peak to Peak Highway we went next, taking in the amazing views and little towns that dotted the way. I was happy to be driving winding mountain roads with open views and Mom was happy to be taking them in. We were finally unwinding after being in Colorado for 3 days and it felt good.
Retreating into a hotel for the night and despite a slight wish for more rest the beauty and sights of Rocky Mountain National Park awaited us the next morning. Arising early, we passed through Estes Park and by The Stanley before 7:30am and into the park we went via Fall River Rd.
Traveling up Old Fall River Rd reminded me of the backroads in Land Between the Lakes near my home. Mostly dirt, very little gravel, a few ruts & wash outs but fairly easy to travel. The one big difference was the drop off and the scenery. Waterfalls, snow capped rugged peaks, stunning vistas, wildflowers and even a Golden Marmot were all visible on our journey up into the mountain peaks.
Old Fall River Rd ends at the Alpine Visitor Center at one of the highest points in the park and is surrounded by the delicate Alpine Tundra. Arriving before 10 am and with Mom’s handicapped parking permit afforded us ample parking. We pulled in to browse the gift shop and take in some coffee from the cafe while we soaked up the view around us.
Next we hit a few scenic overlooks as we made our way past the Continental Divide and while making our way toward Grand Lake on the Western Slope when I noticed a traffic back up. Cars parked along the roadway and even a Park Ranger present I immediately found somewhere to pull in and was greeted with a Cow Moose sighting! While I took pics and Mom looked on a young calf came into view!! Even the Park Ranger commented how rare it was to see a Cow with Calf.
Onward we went into Grand Lake, our destination, the headwaters of the Colorado River.
Out of the banks of Shadow Mountain Reservoirs southern shores sits a little dam, this little unseeming dam dumps overflow water from the reservoir, this is where the mighty and powerful Colorado River begins. Here we strolled across the dam, taking in the scenery, stretching our legs and snapping pictures of course. Here also a section of the Continental Divide Trail is easily accessible so during our strolling we walked to it and my Mom was able to set foot upon it.
Back we went through the Western entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, hearing thunder and seeing a little hail appropriately in Thunder Pass. A mule deer perched along the roadside, Elk grazing along a mountain side dotted with pine & wildflower. More stops at scenic overlooks, Mom snapping pictures out the passenger window and even whitetail deer as we headed toward Bear Lake. By late afternoon, we’d driven all the way through the park and back with lots of stops and side trips, we were bushed and hungry, yet still yearning for more.
Again I wished I had more time in Rocky Mountain National Park, I think I could live there and still not have enough time for such majestic wonder & beauty. The next day we would be on our way to Wyoming and the 2nd ever HLAW Ambassador Retreat.