Today was much less dramatic than yesterday. We had a fairly leisurely morning, then grabbed the shuttle up to Bear Lake. We joined the throngs hiking the Emerald Lake trail. It’s the most heavily trafficked trail in the park, and with good reason. It’s not too hard—just enough elevation to make you feel like you’ve done a little work—and the views are spectacular. The trail takes you past a chain of small lakes, each pretty enough on its own, but truly lovely when you look across them to see the massive, craggy peaks of Flattop and Long’s Peak. The trail was pretty jammed with people, but the boys loved striking up conversations along the way. The whole hike was 3.6 miles, and we did it in a little over 2 hours.
One of the reason we chose this hike was to restore Leo’s confidence. The Bierstadt hike the other day was a little hard for him, and he was pretty upset when we got a little lost. So this hike, with its ease and views, made him feel a lot better about this whole camping/hiking thing. He’s been homesick, pining for the familiar, but he’s fine once he’s distracted and engaged.
The post-hike shuttle ride down to camp was almost longer than the hike itself. There’s a major reconstruction project on the Bear Lake Road, and the bus had a couple of long waits while construction vehicles beeped up and down the road. Luckily, we were the only ones on the bus, so we got to spread out and relax.
Back at camp, we grabbed some lunch, greeted some new campsite neighbors from Wisconsin, and made our way to the Beaver Meadows visitor center so the boys could get stamps on their National Parks Passports. Armin went for a quick bike ride and the boys and I drove back to camp in the daily thunderstorm. It was a quick one, without much rain, so we didn’t have to run around and dry things off.
Tonight we’re enjoying a small campfire, and we’ll get as much stuff packed up as we can. Tomorrow morning we’ll pack up the tent as quickly as we can and head out. Armin has promised that we can stop at Donut Haus in Estes Park—I’m usually in favor of a high-fiber, low-fat, nutritious breakfast, but in this case the Yelp reviews have me yearning for some good treats.
Just a quick addendum…I couldn’t resist, and revisited the Trail Ridge Road climb this afternoon. It was even more fun the second time, though I didn’t have enough energy or time to make the summit again. I turned around at 10,100’, and the descent was more fun this time, since I was more familiar with the roads. I'm so lucky to get this hill climbing in! Who knows when we'll be back.