Memorial Day Adventures
Trailhead: Bear Lake
Distance: 4.4 miles (easy)
Logan and I haven't been up to RMNP since we went snowshoeing with Jon and everyone! We haven't hiked without at least having snowshoes strapped to our packs (and ending up with them on our feet) since October! It's been entirely too long, and while I've certainly enjoyed getting to know some other parts of Colorado (and the country), going to Rocky Mountain National Park feels like going home.
And I missed home.
We've done almost every basic hike you can from Bear Lake road, but hadn't gone up to Bierstadt Lake yet! Back when Mom was here I overheard a park ranger telling someone that if you want to do this hike, you should start from Bear Lake - the elevation gain is less and its spread out over a longer distance. So, that's exactly what we did! Waiting in line for the shuttle to the trailhead, we got to hear all of the excited chatter from all the other visitors ("Mom, theres 15 INCHES of snow! Thats A FOOT AND THREE INCHES!"). It made me so excited and reminded me what it felt like to go into RMNP the first time, too.
The hike was relatively easy, though we definitely needed our Yaktrax and trekking poles would have been a nice addition. A lot of the trail was bare, but when it was covered in snow, there was a ton of it and spring snow conditions aren't the best - postholes galore. This turned a lot of people back because they realized they were unprepared. I stopped to offer to take a picture of a group who, as we were leaving said, "maybe we're the last people to see you?" because they warned us about the snow and we still wanted to head on. We made it, though, and in relatively good time! Though, the afternoon thunderstorms were beginning as we reached the top and we kept having to put the cameras away under the raincover because it was snowing. The trail around Bierstadt Lake is kind of confusing, especially covered in snow, so we ended up taking a trail different than the one we had planned on our return. Originally we wanted to do Bear Lake -> Bierstadt Lake -> Bierstad Trailhead. We ended up on a trail that took us back to the park 'n ride, though. Which was fine, and we got some awesome shots of Longs, but it was slightly confusing to pop out to a sea of cars when we were expecting a 6 car lot and some pine trees.
And, of course, what's a trip to Estes/RMNP without a herd of elk?
We're going to have to do Bierstadt Lake again; it was a prime hammocking location but the snow and the thunder stopped us from setting up and enjoying it. That same snow and thunder, though, brought some of the best mountain views I've ever seen, so it was definitely still a perfect day.