“That’s the trail.” “No. That’s it.”
Rocky Mountain National Park
Drive Time: 56 minutes
Ashley joined us for round two in Rocky Mountain National Park!! Together, we all hiked 11 miles through Wild Basin, seeing Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades and Ouzel Falls.
Multiple weeks leading up to the and the entire drive to Colorado, I’ve been haunted by two road trip fears one, being murdered by a serial killer, and two, being attacked, mutilated and eaten by a bear. Today, the second almost came true. Upon entering the park, a huge, yellow, impossible-to-miss caution sign warned us about entering bear country, essentially telling us to avoid bringing in food. Of course, on our cross-country road trip, packed in our car we have two giant bins full of yummy food, that any bear would be happy to eat. Immediately, while nightmares began flashing through my head, Michael began dreaming about what a story it would be to either be attacked by a bear or return from our hike to find the car mauled by a bear. Thankfully, however, my nightmares subsided when there were food storage lockers at the trail head. Michael thought I was being excessive by moving the food to safety. We compromised by packing lunch with us on the trail and becoming a moving bear target but saving the car from destruction.
The trail was covered in five feet of snow 80% of the way, but despite lacking snowshoes and spikes, we successfully trampled our way to 10,000 feet.
The first half was easy with packed snow and a clear trial to follow. We enjoyed the evergreen trees and gentle dusting of snow, tricking us into thinking it was Christmas. The first half of the hike included three waterfalls, each of which held their own unique character.
Calypso Cascades was easily our favorite as it offered adventure beyond that of just taking in its beauty. Ashley and I braved a fallen tree and ventured out just above the center of the rushing water, an adventure to remember.
We stopped for lunch at Ouzel Falls, peacefully sitting on the bridge overlooking the falls to eat our PB&J and carrots, unintentionally acting a human blockade to other hikers (whoops).
From here the hike got hard. We proceeded up, up and up some more encountering more and more snow. Sometimes the snow was packed but it was more likely that it wasn’t, so every step was a struggle. Rather than hiking, it was more like falling or sliding, as every step forward held the possibility of sinking five feet into the snow. We couldn’t stop laughing at each other.
Slowly as we got higher and higher the trail seemed to become nonexistent and we began to follow previous hikers defined footsteps, assuming they knew where they were going. However, eventually the footprints disappeared and we were stranded in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. But we were determined to reach Ouzel Lake so hesitantly we wondered off, blazing our own trail and trusting that our footprints would be our breadcrumbs home. However, as the snow continued to fall, we began to get nervous that we wouldn’t be able to find our way back. So, we switched the end goal from finding the lake to reaching 10,000 feet which meant hike straight up the mountain. Michael essentially had to make holes in the snow to act as a ladder for us to be able to climb up. After four hours we successfully reached 10,000 feet.
On the way down the mountain, rather than climbing we slid, potentially the highlight of Rocky Mountain National Park.
By the time we reached the car, we were frozen from head to toe. But all the memories from the day were well worth it.
We are living!!
P.S.…I’m sure you’re wondering about the bears…I guess I was being dramatic because our hike lacked bear encounters and we returned to the car in pristine condition. Still a couple weeks left to be murdered by a serial killer though haha