Few hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park bring up such early and strong memories for me as the hike to Black Lake. In fact, it might hold one of my very earliest memories of the park. It is relatively short and easy, it is very beautiful, and if you hit it early, few people go past Mills Lake. Until last weekend, I had never been past Mills Lake in the winter. And I don't know why, now that I've done it! It was everything it is in the warm months, plus a touch of that snowy magic. Jon and I were the first people on the trail that morning and the first people to Black Lake. For five minutes we were in absolute solitude, surrounded completely by mountains, standing together on a frozen alpine lake. Introducing him to this special place was exciting.
We arrived at the park very early- we wanted to see the sunrise very much. And it was a pretty one! We got to our trail head as the colors were in full bloom and felt that sense of wonder that only natural and pure and wild things can bring. Within minutes we were tightening our micro spikes and making sure we had everything packed that we'd need for the day.
The first friends we made came into our lives within the first mile of trail. Two very personable and silly birds who also seemed to enjoy watching the sunrise. I am always really excited to see colorful and fluffy birds. On this day, we saw many fluffs and many colors. Being the first people on the trail was a great choice- no one had scared off the wildlife yet.
We were happy to have brought the micro spikes along. The snow was super packed and quite slick. Without nice traction, we would have eaten a lot of shit.
Arriving at the first lake was a happy time. Surrounded by mountains and trees. Birds were singing and...we heard a baby bear. It took us both very off guard and was a really excellent and gentle nudge to us: Hey, Nature here. It's been a warm winter and is mid-March. Bears are waking up. Hope you're paying attention!
We made a lot of noise and slowly carried on. There was no issue. But trust me- we've taken note!
This was a fully intact bird's nest we found. It was beautiful and so sturdy. It was made of mostly thin branches and mud. Pretty neat!
And then we were at Black Lake.
I was flooded by a tremendous amount of memories and was happy to be making some new ones. Jon's reaction to this pretty simple and summit-less day hike made me smile. The elevation gain, wildlife and mountains won him over right away. It's a special place.
We had impeccable weather. We saw rainbows. The wind was refreshing. The sun was bright.
“When the wind calls, you know, that somewhere in the mountains, it has found the answers that you were looking for. The pull of the horizon overcomes the inertia of reason…And you just have to go.” -Vikram Oberoi