Mountains and Canyons. Day 3: Three Lakes and an Elk

(Location: Rocky Mountain National Park)

Woke up sand checked the clock at 0620. Thought that I might not sleep anymore, but apparently I did, because my alarm woke me abruptly at 0800. I pottered over to the coffee machine and made coffee, which we drank in bed, before showers and sorting out clothes and hiking gear. Our motel is located at the back of a lot which includes a restaurant called ‘The Egg and I’ which is where we walked to for breakfast. The sun was out and the mountains looked great. We had a good meal to set us up for the day and then loaded up the truck (!) and set off for the Park.

Our plan was to hike to Mills Lake from Glacier trailhead, but the parking lot was full, so we headed on to Bear Lake and plan B. This was also very busy, but there were a few spaces and Andrew slotted in to the first available spot. As we didn’t do it yesterday, today’s alternate option was the hike to Emerald Lake. Once out of the car, it was windy and cold. And with occasional snow flurries.

The first part of the trail was paved, probably due to the heavy use it gets. It was very busy today, being Saturday, even in the off season. It was also up. Very up. And for us sea-level dwelling beings, the altitude certainly impacted our efforts. Stops were frequent and pace was slow. At home we have about 21% oxygen, at nearly 10,000 feet there is just 14%. It matters! Nevertheless, we arrived at the first lake, Nymph Lake, which was frozen over.

After admiring the lake, we continued on. It was still very busy. And still uphill… At least with much of the trail being in woodland, the wind was reduced and the effort involved meant we were unzipping the top of our coats and removing gloves to cool down a little bit. The temperature got up to around 6C today.

We reached Dream Lake, and I have to say that this was possibly the most beautiful lake, especially as it was frozen. It had a very ethereal quality. An added bonus was that the noisiest crowds stopped at the first edge of it and the walk quietened down.


After more uphill we reached Emerald Lake. A weird phenomenon was that the wind must have been blowing down the mountain side from the glacier and across the lake; it was incredibly windy on the small lake shore. And very cold.


After a short time admiring the view we descended back down towards the trail head. We stopped for a snack on a bench overlooking Nymph Lake, and were rapidly joined by chipmunks.

Back at the car, we left the even busier crowds behind and drove to The Pool trailhead. On our way we passed a magnificent looking elk. We also drove through Moraine Park, which afforded a great view of the mountains.

We didn’t actually drive to the trailhead, parking up at a main lot, but some 0.65 miles short. We only realised this after walking part way, at which point we thought we might as well carry on. The walk was advertised as being a level river walk. I feel misled! It was quite up and downy, and there was only the occasional river sighting. Still, it was pleasant, walking through the woods. We turned around short of the end of the trail, but still ended up with 7 miles hiked for the day, quite enough for our first outing, especially at altitude.

I took over the driving for the trip home, my first time in charge of the beast. It feels much like any other, a little bit higher up, but apart from needing to allow for its length when reversing, it is ok to drive. I took the long way home, following the Fall River Road for change of scenery.

After a rest, beer, some blogging and showers, we headed out for tea. The town was empty, no people and not many places open. It remains a mystery as to where everyone was. We eventually found a nice place, the Wild Rose, and had burgers. And that is it. I may add more photos tomorrow, but the Wi-fi has been painfully slow and I’d like to go to sleep now…

(Editor’s note: extra photos for the Pool hike and drive back now added!)

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