Thursday, July 13, 2017

The next few stops

We drove on further south and stopped at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument just west of Colorado Springs, CO. There are many petrified redwood stumps as a result of a volcano many years ago. The stump in the picture below is about 10 feet in diameter at the top. 

After spending the night at a state park, we continued on to The Great Sand Dunes National Park in South central Colorado. These dunes are a result of the wind swirling around at the base of the surrounding mountains. 

As you can see from the pictures,  we drove in a lot of rain today on our way to Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico at the Colorado border. This was named a national monument just four years ago and I have no pictures of it because I kept waiting for a place that was picture worthy,  but we never arrived at that place.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An evening in Rocky Mountain National Park

This was one of the beautiful pay offs while staying in Rocky Mountain NP. In the foreground of the first picture, our two grandsons, Hunter and Logan, are watching some wildlife.

Then this gorgeous buck elk walked right up the bank onto the road no more than 20 feet from us.  He could care less if tourists were watching him.

We left our campground in Rocky Mountain National Park and stopped at Lily Lake where we had breakfast and a walk around the lake.

After Bonnie and I left Rocky Mountain National Park we went a little farther south to a United States Forestry campground. We were sitting in the RV reading and I just happened to look out the window and there was a bear frolicking through the campground checking all of the food storage containers. It was too dark to get a picture of him because it was it was just at dusk and I tried to get a picture, from our rv, but couldn't. However I was different than a lot of the other people in the campground who were chasing the bear around the campground with their cameras trying to get a picture. Sometimes it makes you think that if they took down all the warning signs and let nature take care of itself we may all be better off.😁  I know, that sounds a bit harsh, but really,  do you think it's a good idea to chase a hungry bear?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

After leaving Wyoming we came down to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. There is one hike in particular in Rocky Mountain National Park that is just fantastic. It is the Sky Pond hike and just as the name suggest it is a pond or lake that is a way up near top of a mountain. Total length of the hike was about a little over 10 miles but well worth it. The change in elevation is about 1700 feet and you start out at a little over 9200 feet. You have have to have a little bit of self discipline to condition yourself to make the climb. Some of the things that made this such a nice hike is that you were walking by waterfalls or moving water quite a bit of the time and then there were also 3 lakes total on the way to the top as well as two waterfalls. When you got nearly to the top the only way to finish the hike was to climb up one of the waterfalls now it was not a heavy Falls but it was about 3 feet wide and the water was constantly moving and yes you did get wet but it paid off when you got up at the top to see Sky Pond. There were several places on this hike as well as other hikes where we had to cross snow fields where the winter snow has not melted yet. The problem is the snow has turned into ice balls and it is very slippery to cross the snow field. Hiking polls help a lot but you still have to be careful because it's very slippery.  All of the pictures below are taken from the trail hiking to Sky Pond.

Our drive around the rim at the top of Rocky Mountain National Park. This drive is the highest (in elevation) paved highway in the U.S.

A herd of about 80 elk.

Gem Lake

Bonnie, Kristin and I hiked on up to Lake Hiayaha

•    there seems to be a higher than usual number of visitors to the national parks and I believe part of the reason is because our national parks system issues free family passes for a family with a 4th grader this year.

•    there is an incredible amount, more than we have ever seen before, of Asian Indians visiting and camping in the national parks

Devils Tower National Monument

When we left Glacier National Park we went to Devils Tower National Monument located in the north east corner of Wyoming. If you look closely at the rock formation of Devils Tower, you'll notice that the rock is vertical rather than horizontal. Several people climb this Devils Tower which is quite a feat in itself. We did not do that.

A Japanese fellow created a sculpture to "frame" Devils Tower as a visitor looked through the sculpture. 

Glacier NP - second part

The rest of our time in Glacier was spend on a few other different hikes. One of my all time favorite hikes was the one to Crypt Lake that Bonnie and I did about 16 years ago. This one is actually on the Canadian side of Glacier NP called Waterton International Peace Park. Canada is celebrating 150 years of their natioal park system so everyone visiting a Canadian National Park this year gets free admission.  Crypt Lake is the one where you hike to a certain point and then you have to climb a steel ladder up to a tunnel. Then you go through this tunnel that has a decreasing size opening on the other end.  I  can't get through the tunnel with the my backpack on, so I have to take it off and either throw it ahead of me or drag it behind me because the opening gets pretty small.  When you get through the tunnel, you come out onto a ledge that has a cable strung through eyebolts that are embedded in the rock so you can hold on because on the other side is a shear cliff that just goes straight down. I didn't get a picture of that because it's hard to take a picture when you're holding on to grandchildren and assuring that you don't slip your self. Thie picture below is my 9 year old grandson, Hunter, on the steel ladder just before entering the tunnel.

In the next picture below you can see Bonnie, Hunter and Logan getting ready to enter the tunnel and you can see a small light at the other end of the tunnel. 

The next several pictures are views from the trail on the way to Crypt Lake and when we got to Crypt Lake.

The next several pictures are taken from the road while driving through Glacier National Park

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Glacier National Park first hike

Below are several pictures from Glacier National Park. The first 8 pictures are on our hike to Virginia Falls and St Mary's Falls with Virginia Falls being the more dramatic one. The awesome beauty of this place is just incredible!

The next pictures are on our hike on the way to Iceberg Lake.

Bear grass that grows wild