Whenever I feel like I need to have some deep thoughts, or get super in touch with myself or just feel super intense passion and joy, I head to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s the one place in this world where I can get out, do something rad and feel totally and completely at home. And at one with nature. This is due to the fact that I was raised at that park. And the fact that it’s just straight up beautiful. And in the snowy months? Forget about it. Beauty is too lackluster a word for such epic magnificence.
The plan for the day was to do a big hike. The area had recently gotten a dumping of snow however, so with that news, Jon and I had to keep our plans loose. Sometimes roads are closed or trailheads are hard to access when the snow comes. We arrived by sunrise and boy was it a pretty one. Subdued and pastel. Yellows, oranges and pinks lit up the sky and highlighted the mountains in a heavy alpenglow. A sight that makes our world feel like a coloring book; a surreal landscape where mountains aren’t made of rock, but rather brightly colored jewels.
While it would be impossible to miss, we always make a point to stop and enjoy Longs Peak. A mountain that means so much to so many. It’s always held a special place for me, but especially in the past few years. It was my first 14er, it’s where Jon and I celebrated our love; we even have it tattood as a wedding band. We celebrate our anniversary every year there too. It stands for something bigger to me than just a mountain. I had dreamt of summiting it since I was a tiny child. And now it’s this special place. It stands for dreams, for love and for pushing harder. And for giving the utmost’s respect to nature. Being aware of so many things.
Whenever we get the chance to see this massive mountain drenched in bright colors, we enjoy it. It’s inspiring and powerful. This visit to the park began with the perfect display of sunrise against our big peak.
Our original hike choice didn’t work out, as we would have had to tack on 4 miles and with our Bivy at home, we were on a tiny little time crunch. The one big downside of a pupper. But we quickly reassessed and picked out a great hike that Jon had never done. A classic in RMNP that everyone must do at some point. One that I did two years ago, almost to the dot. Nymph, Dream, Emerald and Haiyaha lakes. Because who doesn’t love alpine and subalpine lakes? No one. That’s who. They’re colorful and glorious and currently covered in ice that is also colorful. It’s rad stuff.
I was a little surprised to find that when we hit the trail, the trail was totally and completely covered in ice. A thick, slippery and dense ice that you expect later in the season. Not quite yet. There was also a lot of snow, which is to be expected. Jon used his spikes for traction, while I opted for snowshoes. I’m pretty comfortable in them, and actually got a brand new pair in spring that I had yet to try out! A more aggressive and lightweight style snowshoe; made for mountains! They are the MSR Lightening Ascent for those that are interested.
The weather was perfect on this day and the winds were low. But as we ascended into the mountains, it became apparent that at some point, it would snow. And not a super lovely and delicate snow. The clouds declared a heavy and thick snow. If you’ve spent a ton of time outdoors in the wilderness, you probably share the skill of reading the sky. Watching the changing of clouds and colors, accurately predicting the future.
We kept on hiking, marveling at the views and enjoying the solitude. Snow crunching underfoot and much happiness filling our hearts.
When we reached our destination, the temperatures dropped considerably. A normal thing when gaining elevation, however, this was a little more of a temperature change than that. We adjusted our layers and enjoyed exploring for a while. The snow was very deep and there were no other footprints in sight. Birds were singing happy songs.
This was the experience I had hoped for the day. Peace and quiet and solitude and beauty. Nature being nature. Simple and perfect. If everyone could experience this, the world would be a much better place. These wild places are key to being human.
As we headed back down, the clouds continued to build.
The way back was all downhill and went very fast. I always appreciate a straight descent for the way back. It’s a beautiful thing after ascending for miles.
We took our time soaking in all that surrounded us.
The mountains, the snow, the frozen streams, the singing birds and playing squirrels. It’s all perfection.
As we approached the car and began to take off our traction and backpacks, it began to snow.
It started as a gentle snow and before long, it was a harsh, whipping snow. A snow that made us laugh at our timing. Happily we got into the Jeep and turned on the heat. Enjoying the snow from the safety of our moving box. The drive home was snowy and windy and dark. We talked and reminisced. Those chats that only happen after adventure.
It was a good day.