Trailhead: Bear Lake (RMNP)
Distance: 3.9 miles (easy)
Sunday morning I had planned on doing a hike in a new-to-me State Park, but sleeping in took precedence. I was glad I got some extra sleep, but I still wanted to get out and hike, so I asked Claire if she'd be down for a sunset hike in RMNP - the answer was an enthusiastic yes, so we planned on leaving between 3:30 and 4:00 to give us plenty of time to get to the park and up to the lake before the sun went down. On our way into Estes, it started POURING down rain and there was some thunder, so we set our parameters for bailing (any thunder, rain more than a drizzle). We got to the trailhead and sat with the windows cracked a little bit just to make sure we didn't hear any thunder and eventually got on our way!
It was a little strange to be in the park with no views - the only other time I've seen it like this was when we went snowshoeing the first time. The clouds mixed with our late start made for a slightly eerie vibe, but we were diggin' it. We made our way up to Nymph Lake, slightly regretting our decision to put our pullovers on - it was strangely humid and making us pretty toasty. I didn't feel like taking mine off, but we stopped a second to let Claire take off hers.
It was really nice to be at the park when it was so empty. We only saw a handful of people the entire time, and most of those were before Nymph or at Dream Lake. The trail splits right at Dream Lake, and we had the Haiyaha split to ourselves except for two girls who were on their way back down. It was so cool to watch the clouds roll in over the mountains and try to compare this hike to the one I took back in October with Logan.
We reached the lake to find we had the entire thing to ourselves. It was pretty obvious we weren't going to get a sunset, but with the clouds moving over the lake and the insane blue color of the water and the beef jerky in my bag, we weren't upset about it at all. We took pictures, laughed, and talked about how much Claire likes her roommates. We had two other people show up, but they only stayed a few minutes, and we soon had it all to ourselves again. Once we started getting chilly, we decided it was best if we headed back down.
On our way back down, Claire turned around to tell me something and said "holy shit." My heart started pounding as I imagined the worst (bears are super hungry this time of year...). It was actually just a female elk eating her dinner! It freaked me out a little, though, because she had been 2 feet away from us and we would never had known if Claire hadn't turned around AND we had been talking - pretty loudly and continuously for this reason, but the elk hadn't even moved a muscle. We picked up our pace and our volume and headed down to the trailhead. I eventually put on my headlamp, but probably could have gotten back without it. We took off our boots and headed home!