Spent a great day at Rocky Mountain National Park. After a stop at the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center for some hike suggestions and to stamp my passport, I started the day out w/ a hike to Cub Lake. This was initially a rather easy hike on the floor of on of the valleys but about 1/2 mile before Cub Lake it began to rise rather sharply. A light rain also began to fall about this time. Finally made it Cub Lake and hiked to the far end, then turned around and headed back. Had considered a loop route but that would have been over 7 miles and I hadn't brought any lunch or even snacks so thought it best to turn around and keep it to the 5 miles. On the way back a flock of turkeys crossed the path in front of me and at the same time saw my first yellow bellied marmot. A yellow bellied marmot is a ground hog looking animal only a bit smaller w/ lighter fur and of course a yellowish belly. Saw a number of others later. They are apparently quite prevalent through out the Rockies. As I neared the end of the hike the rain stopped and it the sky began to clear. The remainder of the afternoon turned out to be partly sunny.
The other item on the agenda was to drive the Trail Ridge Road. All I can say is WOW! The views are one of those things that you really have to experience yourself in order to appreciate. However I'll try to describe a bit of my experience. I drove the road to the Alpine Visitors Center. The road is a continuous ascend from the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center which is at 7,840 feet above sea level to a high point of 12,183 just prior to the Alpine Center. While the road is in good shape, there is no berm and there are no guardrails and most places it is a vertical drop off the edge of the road. The first thing I did when I got to the Center was had a Bison Bratwurst for lunch since it was now 1:30 and I hadn't eaten since breakfast. The Center itself sits at 11,796 feet above sea level. However, there is a trail w/ a series of steps that will take you a bit higher to an observation area that would be higher than that high point on the road. It is nicknamed "Huffer's Hike" due to the thin air and the steepness of the ascent. Based on what I realized later I would estimate the observation area is another 400 feet above the level of the Center.
I left the Center at 3 to begin my descent. I had driven straight up w/ out stopping planning to make numerous stops on the way down. I stopped at Gore Range, skipped Lava Cliffs, then stopped at Tundra Communities Trail. This is a half mile trail that ascends for the first quarter mile, then flattens for the remainder of the trip. There are signs along the way that explain about life on the tundra. One of them stated that in the winter, winds will sweep across the higher points at 100 mph which of course is hurricane force. At the bottom is a sign that says you are currently at 12,029 feet and the trail takes you up another 260. This is the information I based my Huffer's Hike estimate on since it is all ascent. I stopped at Forest Canyon, Rainbow Curve, and Many Parks Curve to take a few pictures then skipped Hidden Valley and Beaver Ponds. I was back at the Beaver Meadows Visitors Center right at 5.
The first 20 miles out of Estes Park was a bit tedious because there was a long line of us behind a truck so most of that section of the trip were going between 20 and 30 mph.
After we got through Lyons it was better and the remainder of the trip to Denver was uneventful. Check into the hotel at 7:30 and immediately went back out for dinner at Ihop.
Crushed it on the steps today!
Steps 24335/102299 Bike 13.1/13/1