When we last left off, our heros were drifting off into a well deserved sleep after hiking 7 miles through the wilderness to the Little Rock Lake campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park. If you missed that part, you can find the story and the photos HERE.
I woke up early the next morning, because if I was going to break my back carrying 20 pounds of camera equipment deep into the wilderness you better believe I was going to wake up to shoot sunrise. Fortunately the weather gods smiled upon me that day and I was treated to an amazing sunrise.
Sunrise over Little Rock Lake
Rock Lake at Sunrise
Andrew creeping in the forest
The original plan was to hike back up the gorge and visit the lakes that we saw from above the day before. But a combination of tired legs and looming storm clouds made our decision for us. We decided to relax this day. We would stick around the two lakes that we had right at our campsite and explore a bit there while we just enjoyed being off in the middle of nowhere. We fished, ate summer sausage and cheese, napped and played cards in the tent for a while when it rained. All in all it was a great day with the added bonus that we were able to let our legs rest up for the hike out the next day.
Spot the mama moose at Little Rock Lake
The next day I woke up again to shoot the sunrise, but this time I was not as lucky. As soon as I stepped out of the tent the rain began to fall. I grudgingly got back in the tent and waited it out. When the rain broke, it was time to make a little breakfast and pack up so we could get on the trail home. When we arrived at our makeshift kitchen though we were treated with a faint rainbow over Rock Lake, a nice farewell from a beautiful spot.
An early morning sunrise rainbow
The hike home would be a different route than the one we use to come in. It would be a little bit longer of a hike, but not nearly as steep as the route we used to come in. This route took us east from our campsite downhill to the Big Thompson river. From there we would turn north, following the river uphill to its headwaters. It sounded easy enough on paper and so we were optimistic. Just as we were finishing up our packing and the tent was being stuffed into backpack, the rain began again. For the next hour, as we trudged through the wilderness, picking our way as best as possible the rain came down steadily. At this point though we were used to it, and the cool rain actually made the bushwhacking a little more pleasant, at least as pleasant as it could be. By the time we found the river and started up stream the rain broke for us and we were able to take stock of the scenery around us. Unfortunately because of the rain, and the fact that I was pretty exhausted, I didn't get to take as many photos of the beautiful scenery as I would have liked.
We continued uphill, climbing past the treeline, through the tundra until, at the top, we found the trail that would take us back to the trailhead. Once again I would be lying if I said this was easy, but the combination of the scenery and the experience made it totally worth it. When we made it back to the car we were three wet, tired and happy adventurers.
Two wet and tired backpackers
The drive back to civilization took us on the same Trail Ridge Road that initially inspired this trip. I forced them to pull over a few times so I could take some pictures of the view that had inspired me so much. Seeing it from this perspective, and visually tracing the route that we had traversed really cemented for me what a great experience this trip really was.
A trained eye could trace our entire route in this photo. We started by hiking down into the gorge on the far left and then came up the valley and met the trail near that yellowish patch on the right side of the photo.
Until the next time,
As always, there are prints available to purchase HERE!
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