Thursday, August 8, 2013

Colorado Tourist: Rocky Mountain National Park {My husband tells all}

Somehow this post got lost and I just remembered about it, so the Colorado tour I took you on that you thought was finished a few weeks actually not. Today my nature loving and oh so smart husband is here to tell you about the last part of our Colorado trip!

Stop #5: Rocky Mountain National Park
Welcome to Rocky Mountain National Park and specifically, the Fern Lake Trail located in the east central part of the park.  This is Allison's husband (Drew) taking the role as your tour guide to help guide you through our day (and maybe yours one day) at RMNP. 
If you ever have the opportunity to visit RMNP I'm sure you'll want to enjoy a hike while you're there.  The good news is the park offers hiking for any level of expertise, and backpackers are welcomed as well.

When you do decide to visit, or if you visit any other National Park for that matter you may want to consider utilizing a Google search to find a trail that's right for you based on the experiences of others who have already gone.  While at RMNP we knew that a waterfall hike was a must, and with over two dozen different falls in the park simply looking at a map wasn't going to provide the nitty gritty details one prefers to have.

A quick Google search of "RMNP waterfall hikes" resulted in too many reviews for me to read, but enough that I was able to pinpoint which trail we should hike based upon our time and skill level.

The park staff also serves as a great resource for this information as well, but don't count on showing up to any of the visitor centers within the park and getting your question answered quickly.  The summer months proved to be very busy, and the line to talk to the park rangers was very long.  Any planning ahead you can do will save you a lot of time once you get into the park so you can promptly enjoy the outdoors.
While we were in the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center we had the opportunity to pick up a National Parks Passport.  The passport lists every national park by state, offers information about the parks, and provides an opportunity to time stamp your visit as seen above.   We threw around the idea of visiting as many parks as we can, and now that we are back in Ohio, we have begun to plan day trips to some of the national parks in the Midwest region.
I guess I'll mention a quick bit on the gear to take for a day hike in the Rockies since the above picture is of our shoes.  You can see that our shoes aren't hard core backpacking shoes/boots.  I own a great pair of Asolo Hiking boots which you can find at REI or many other good backpacking stores.  Unless you are actually backpacking and hiking in with all of your gear, hiking boots just aren't necessary for a day hike here.  We are standing on the path in the photo, and it's well maintained and easy to walk on, so my Merrel Barefoot shoes were just fine, and Allison's Keens worked out very well.

Had we been atop some 14'ers I might consider something to provide a little more stability, but then again Allison's friend from Colorado has hiked to the top of 14,000 foot mountains in running shoes.  I guess the main point is not to feel pressured to go out and drop $200 bucks on hiking boots if you just plan to do some day hiking.  Gym shoes will work just fine.

Our hike was roughly a 5 mile round trip, and considering about 30-45 minutes a mile in this terrain, you're looking at a total hike time of roughly 2.5-3.75 hours.  It's definitely long enough that you want to pack along some snacks as you'll be burning some major calories huffing up the trails.  I drank through my entire Nalgene (32 oz) just over halfway through the trip.  I would definitely recommend a Camel Back or a couple of Nalgenes for a hike of this length.  You'll start off a little heavier, but you'll also lighten up because you'll be guzzling water down along the way.  The ability to become dehydrated is elevated (that's a joke ha!) here in the Rockies due to the lower air pressure as you get higher in elevation.  What this causes is your body to evaporate water more quickly from your skin surface and lung surface as you breathe more often in the less oxygenated environment.   If you come from an area that is some what around sea level in elevation, you'll find yourself feeling pretty crummy pretty quick if you don't drink enough water out here.
Are those trees behind us or is it medicine? It's both! These are Aspen trees.  Native American's in the area peeled the bark off these trees and boiled it in water to drink a natural pain reliever.  Interestingly enough, the Native American's realized this when they watched a female deer eat the bark directly after giving birth and this led them to believe it had pain soothing qualities. And they were right!  The bark has a powdery surface to it which serves as a natural sun screen of 4 spf.
Taking a look at the cool hillside and blue skies above makes me think of how quickly the weather changes out here.  The quick weather change is mostly caused by the mountainous terrain forcing air upward.  As the air rises due to the mountainous peaks the air parcel condenses and the next thing you know you are getting poured on and thunder may present as well.  The good news is that these pop up showers quickly pass but packing a light rain jacket wouldn't be a bad idea in the summer.

The same goes if you visit any other time of year as well.  In the winter for instance, these same pop up showers/storms can happen and dump some considerable snow in a short amount of time.
As we hiked along we decided to take a break at a bridge crossing we came to.  We stopped to enjoy some trailmix, which frankly I begin to get tired of after a couple of handful's unless there is ample chocolate.  Just make sure whatever snack you take is more of a carbohydrate based snack and not a protein.  Something with more protein, like beef jerky, will require more water for your body to digest it and since your hiking about this isn't the best case scenario for staying hydrated.
I love animals, and apparently they love me too.  I'm not a fan of feeding wild animals as it will make them rely less on their own natural instincts, but in this case this Chipmunk was well trained.  I would have taken him home if he would have crawled into my pocket.
Here we are standing at the bridge crossing. There is a protected fish in these waters called the Greenback Cutthroat trout. This spot is just over half way on the Fern Falls Trail.
Our hard work from the hike was rewarded with a roaring waterfall fed by snow melt into Fern Lake.  The chilly water was more than welcomed after our warm hike up the mountain side.  The Fern Lake Trail was a great place to start in a National Park that has an insane amount of natural world to explore, it's a must on everyone's bucket list. Happy hiking.


Anonymous said...

Great tour, Drew!

What a gorgeous setting!


Carrie said...

Love that you got the hubby to blog! That waterfall is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I've never seen a chipmunk sit so still for someone before! Amazing! I can tell you're good with animals!

I prefer lots of chocolate in my trail mix too. Great blog post!

I need to get my husband to guest post on my blog...

Anonymous said...

saving this just in case i ever make my way over there. your husband did a great job!

Helene in Between said...

ohh this really really makes me want to go to colorado!! so cool!

Erin LFF said...

Ugh, yet again you make me want to travel! Shame on both of you!! ;) Love your guest post Drew. I'm inviting Jared and I for the next trip and we can ALL wear Disney shirts while we're there!!

scrapperjen said...

Thank you for the tour, Drew! It's on our list of places to visit.
Great pictures!

Becca Moss said...

Whooo love this & all of the pictures!

Courtney B said...

It's beautiful there!! What a great day together!
And props to the hubs for guest posting! Eric would never... no matter how much I begged, HA!

The Weir House said...

Those trees, wow! All we have is pine trees. Those are beautiful!

Rach @ This Italian Family said...

I didn't know Aspen trees were so useful! How cool! Thanks for the tour, Drew! :)