Feelin' the Thunder
~Wednesday, May 11, 2022~
Since Sadie was left at the trailer most of yesterday, we wanted to be sure she had some playtime today. While I stayed back to make us a picnic lunch, Jeff took her to a local dog park near Estes Lake. It was perfect for her with all the ball chasing and socializing with other dogs. She met her match in terms of running speed with an 18-month old German Shorthaired Pointer. The dog’s owner, a veterinarian tech, asked how old Sadie was and was quite surprised at how agile and healthy she looked for 7 years old. I guess most labs at Sadie’s age are overweight and lethargic. Can’t imagine Sadie ever in that state. What a compliment though and encouraging to know we’re doing something right. That, or she has great genes. Or could it be that she is the most spoiled dog in the world, living her happiest life?
One of my other duties while Jeff was gone was to get coins for laundry and to investigate our cable troubles. Stephanie, Brian’s wife, was manning the office and when I told her what was happening with our cable, she was perplexed at how we got any channels at all, since they don’t even offer cable. O.k. Now I’m really confused. Jeff told me he had us hooked up to a cable box and we did receive at least 24 hours of service with it. Her recommendation…..talk to Brian, the techno guru. However, Brian said the same thing, adding that the RV park hasn’t had cable 2 out of the 4 years he’s worked there. With the popularity of streaming, they switched over to loaning out Fire TV Sticks instead. The only conclusion we came up with is that whatever cable service we were connected to, a signal was sent and it didn’t detect that we weren’t subscribed until 24 hours later, finally shutting down the service. At least the mystery is solved and we have a free Fire Stick option.
Since the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center was closed yesterday, we thought we’d try again today. Back in business. Evidently, the reason for the shut-down yesterday (leave it to me to always investigate) is that they had furniture move-in day for their administrative offices. Hmm….that wasn’t quite the reason we were expecting, as Jeff and I thought it had to do with staffing issues. Inside was a mini gift shop, information desk and a small theater offering a 20-minute film introducing the park. Not only was the film informative, but very touching actually. Rocky Mountain National Park has some of the most stunning topography in the continental United States, with endless high altitude peaks (over 12,000 feet) and gorgeous subalpine/alpine lakes. Even with it being our first time here, we already feel a connection with this amazing park, especially when we’re hiking its trails. It’s the perfect place to disconnect, yet CONNECT your soul to your mind by what you are seeing, if that makes sense. It’s a very powerful thing.
One of the many fascinating things we learned at the visitor center was about the adaptation of plants in this harsh environment. Even though we’re nature enthusiasts, we never really thought about how tough survival must be for the many trees and plants that make up this park’s landscape. Starting between 11,000 and 11,500 feet, temperatures are way colder, winters are longer and growing seasons are shorter. Many of the plant species that are seen at lower elevations are also seen at high elevations, but in dwarf form. The plants at higher elevations, known as “alpine tundra” survive because of their own microclimate. Within 3 inches of the soil, it can be 30 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature surrounding it, promising their survival. Like most species, it’s all about adapting to survive. Here are some other interesting general facts about Rocky Mountain National Park:
It is one of the highest national parks in the continental United States with elevations between 7,860 feet and 14,259 feet. Within the park’s boundaries are 77 mountain peaks over 12,000 feet high which include the Continental Divide.
Trail Ridge Road (not open until Memorial Day weekend-darn it!!) is a 48-mile "scenic wonder road of the world." Cresting just over 12,000 feet, it is the highest continuous paved highway in the nation. In fact it is so high that drivers climb 4,000 feet in a matter of minutes.
Approximately one-third of this national park’s forests are above tree line (around 11,500 feet in Colorado). The plants and trees at or above this elevation create what’s called the “alpine tundra ecosystem”.
The park holds an extensive collection of cultural objects, works of art and biological/geological specimens totaling nearly 50,000.
Most of the park is designated as wilderness. Nearly 250,000 acres of Rocky Mountain has been designated as wilderness as of 2009, protecting the wild beauty of the park’s meadows, forests, alpine peaks and tundra. But Congress is seeking for even more protected wilderness in the park.
Rocky Mountain is one of the country’s top wildlife watching destinations. The park is home to more than 60 species of mammals, including elk, bighorn sheep and moose.
While most people visit the park during the summer months, the winter months hold their own special magic in recreation and beauty.
Our last stop at the gift shop was a success as Jeff’s been on a mission for months trying to find another baseball cap. With the hardest decision being what color to get, Jeff chose a green Colorado hat, in support of one of our favorite states.
Now time for exploring. We remembered the ranger suggesting Sprague Lake, a 0.8 mile loop trail that’s great for viewing wildlife.
Maybe we didn’t hit it at quite the right time since our extent of animal viewing was 2 ducks and a flock of geese. But it was a very nice easy going, flat trail with very little snow and the lake thawed.
Our main goal for today was hiking the Glacier Gorge. After our 5 attempts of circling the parking lot trying to find a spot big enough for Hank, we finally settled in. On this trail, we hoped to make it to Mills Lake but
decided only on the 1.2 miles to Alberta Falls which was amazing. The trail was much easier than our previous hike to Emerald Lake a few days ago. Glacier Creek, which creates Alberta Falls, was thundering today from recent snowmelt. We picked a very nice spot right alongside the waterfall to have our lunch. When you choose the best waterfall viewing spot to have lunch, be prepared for a lot of interruption. I must have had 5 hikers ask me to take their picture. And yes, I was able to finally finish my lunch. Then we had one wise-guy who came up behind Jeff and told us they had just spotted a mountain lion. I was already standing up before his little announcement, but quickly grabbed my hiking poles as if that would do any good in defending myself. “Just kidding,” he joked. Not funny. 😡 There actually have been mountain lion sightings in the area, so of course, I fell for it. He could tell we were less than amused, likely moving on to his next gullible victim. After that slight interruption, we went back to enjoying our time by the fabulous waterfall.
In the evening, we thought we’d give the Fire Stick a try. We struggled repeatedly to register the device as well as log in to our Amazon Prime account. Nothing. After multiple tries, we gave up and settled instead for the free movie options, while Jeff whipped up a delicious dinner of Chicken Parmesan and stir fry (for me). Dinner and a movie. A nice change!