On Tuesday the kids and I got up early (4:00 a.m.) and went out with Mom and Dad to watch the sun rise over Sprague Lake. Gorgeous, no? Words can not describe how quiet, cold, and peaceful that morning was. Simply beautiful.
We stayed at the lake for a little while before heading back up to the Bear Lake trailhead to hike the three lakes in that area – Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and Emerald Lake.
The trail winds up the side of the mountain, each lake is a half-mile apart with each half-mile gaining ~200 feet in elevation. The trailhead is at 9,475 feet, so Nymph Lake sits at ~9,700 feet, Dream Lake at ~10,000 feet and Emerald Lake at ~10,250 feet. We found these trails far more “doable” than the hike on Monday where we attempted Ouzel Falls.
We also began to notice a pattern about our hikes. Most of the trails we were on were the “popular” trails. We didn’t do any backcountry hiking. If you really want a great experience you need to be on the trail no later than 8 a.m. This is imperative. After that the trails begin to get very crowded and sometimes noisy. It really changes the experience and makes it much harder to see wildlife on the trail when there are hoardes of people tromping around.
We hit Nymph Lake after a fairly steep hike up. The first part of the hike really felt like the hardest… I don’t know if it was just that steep or if we were just stiff and sore from the previous days antics.
Captain Chaos was especially fond of the ducks in RMNP. He talked about the ducks constantly. He talked to the ducks when they were around. Strangely enough, they usually answered!
After we looked around Nymph Lake we headed up to Dream Lake. It seemed an easier path until we hit the snow blocking the path. Climbed over that. It was quite patchy, so we weren’t too concerned. Until we rounded a bend and saw this…
Towards the back of the snow bank you can just make out the log bridge that we needed to cross to continue on to Emerald Lake. Not happening. In hindsight we probably could have done it, but we were all wearing tennis shoes and the snow was hard-packed and iced over. Very slick stuff and I just didn’t want to risk someone falling into the water.
We had a good time here. Ate a snack, drank some water. The girls had a snowball fight…in June!
We got to see this –
Mom hiked a little way around some trees and discovered that the main part of the lake was just behind another snow bank. I will admit to stepping through the snow and soaking my foot in the stream below trying to get to it. Totally worth it though!
After hanging at Dream Lake for a while, soaking it all in we headed back down the trail. When we got back to the trailhead we saw a sign that said that Alberta Falls was only .6 miles away and mostly downhill. Gotta love that! Off we went.
It was about that time that we realized that the distances had to have been set “as the crow flies.” Seriously. It had to be way longer that .6 miles. In addition, it was HOT. At Dream Lake we were all bundled up and freezing. By the time we got to Alberta Falls we were sweltering. Whew! Beautiful falls though. Way crowded…
On the way to the falls we crossed another path that led DOWNHILL to the Glacier Gorge trailhead, also a stop on the shuttle bus route. In a strike of utter genius (if I do say so myself) I suggested that on the way back instead of climbing back uphill to the Bear Lake trailhead that we walk DOWNHILL to the shuttle bus stop and ride back up to the Bear Lake parking lot where we could hop in the car and head out for lunch. Brilliant…and exactly what we did!
We went into downtown Estes for lunch at the Grubsteak Restaurant. It was “okay.” Mom enjoyed her elk-burger though. We were all pretty pooped by then so we headed back to Jellystone to play mini-golf and rest.