May 7th, 2018
Well once again we woke up to cloudy skies and no sunrise. It kind of seems to be a trend in Colorado for us. Instead of being upset about it, I decided we could just go hiking and enjoy some cool trails today. We settled on Emerald Lake and set off. It's about a 25 minute drive to the trail head on Bear Lake Road, and after finished the entire drive, parking and getting out of the car, I realized I had forgotten all of my camera gear. You'd think that would be something I'd remember, but my brain had other plans. Lauren made fun of me the whole car ride back to the hotel, so I guess we can call it Evan 2 Lauren 1, if you're keeping track.
The hike up to Emerald Lake is beautiful, and for us, it was snowy as hell. A lot of people had crampons and other gear, but we decided against it after we saw a couple wearing sandals. I'm not sure if they actually made it all the way up, but we were reassured that it would all be okay either way. We also saw a man smoking a cigar all the way to Emerald Lake, so long story short, you really don't NEED crampons.
The cool thing about the hike up to Emerald Lake is you get to see two other lakes along the way. The first is Nymph Lake, which was frozen for us. It was still beautiful, but we were on a mission to get to the end of the trail. After Nymph, there's a pretty decent climb up along a ridge and we spent a solid 7 minutes letting people pass as Lauren built up the courage to walk across a section of the trail where the snow had collapsed. It was funny watching two little old ladies walk past it while we waited. We eventually made it across, and hiked up the ridge. Along the way, we saw the elusive blue bird that I want to take a picture of, but it quickly flew away right after I got my camera out. While we were sitting there we talked to some of the hikers and they were super interested in my camera gear. I always love when people want to talk about camera stuff, so that was a good spirit lifter after that crazy snow pass those two old, 80 year old ladies did without a second thought.
I'm going to come clean though. Lauren, the girl who was afraid to cross that little pass and waited as those two old, decrepit ladies did it confidently and without hesitation, helped them cross and held their hands. It was super sweet and I'm going to be fair on this trip and give her a point for that. Evan 2 Lauren 2.
Anyways, we eventually made our way to Dream Lake, which spoiler alert, was my favorite lake along the trail. It was still partially frozen but my god was it beautiful. The water was crystal clear and backdropped by the mountains above.
Dream Lake was beautiful, so we had to get a picture together. Side note, the guy who I had take this for us took about 15 pictures and every single picture except this one had his thumb in it, so that as cool.
The hike up to Dream Lake while there's still snow pack is super straight forward. You can't really go wrong. After you get to Dream Lake though, all bets are off. I'm still not sure where we went wrong, but we ended up way up on a hill above the main trail and had to literally walk down a frozen waterfall to get down. My shoes got soaked and filled with snow. Things were looking grim. Luckily for us, there was only one more hill climb until we got to Emerald Lake. It was super beautiful up there and there were a ton of birds and little chipmunks that Lauren said reminded her of my dog. One of those dog-birds was the elusive "I still don't know what it's real name is" blue bird. This time, I got lucky and got a quick shot of it, so if anyone knows what the hell this thing is called, please tell me. I would seriously appreciate it.
The beautiful and aptly named "Dog-Bird"
The hike down wasn't much to write home about. We managed to stay on the trail the entire time and ran into a couple from Arizona. I mentioned to them how I thought Arizona was beautiful and they quickly told me it's not and went on about how ugly it is, so now I feel like I need to take a trip there. My list of places I want to visit is getting long.
After our long hike, we decided we were dying of hunger and needed to eat. We drove into Estes Park looking for something delicious and ended up at "Locals Grill." I had a steak hoagie thing and green beans. It was really good and I forgot to take pictures. RIP.
Since we were in town, we decided to walk around a bit and maybe grab some ice cream. The town of Estes is beautiful and definitely worth the trip. There's a nice strip of stores and restaurants to check out. We ended up getting our ice cream, a little bit of fudge, and some gifts for our families. By the way, the ice cream shop we went to had home made waffle cones. I got a chocolate flavored one and Lauren had a raspberry one. It was something to behold. I made a huge mess and spent the rest of the time there walking around with sticky fingers, which was totally worth it.
That night, something unspeakably horrible happened. The Penguins lost. I was devastated and I still haven't recovered. I'm sure most people won't care, but just know I'm dead on the inside now because of that loss.
Thankfully, that night was quickly righted by clear skies and some star shooting. We went to a few different spots but ultimately ended up back at Moraine Park. Lauren was afraid to leave the car so I was left alone (Evan 3 Lauren 2). While I was in the middle of doing a long exposure, someone drove past several times and then eventually stopped to ask me for directions. They managed to shine their lights directly where I was shooting which resulted in me taking the same photo 7 times. It was unfortunate, but I still got the shot (After editing I'm not 100% happy with the image, so I won't be sharing. That's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes folks). I felt bad for the guy, and I hope he figured out how to get back with my directions. If anyone finds a guy around RMNP who looks lost, it's probably my fault.
Anyways, that about wraps up our last full day in RMNP. I was going to post a picture of Lauren and myself standing in front of the RMNP sign, but I already know she'll be mad if I post it. She told me she doesn't like the way she looks in it and I'm well aware of the consequences.
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Thanks everyone and stay tuned tomorrow for our 5th day in Colorado!
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