Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rocky Mt Natl Park -- again


We decided not to go into Boulder. We both so enjoyed our time in Rocky Mtn National Park we decided to return (we only left because we couldn’t find a campsite for the July 4th weekend and had spent it instead in the Fort Collins area).

We spent Tuesday afternoon in the town of Estes Park – which was way too crowded last week when we went through the first time (at the beginning of July 4th weekend) to explore.

With the crowds thinned, we strolled the main street, stopped in a few shops, had ice cream, and went to the library and used free wifi (as well as got some good books from their book sale and freebies).

We walked a back trail in town, along elk paths, which led to some old stone ruins and brought us across the street from the opulent Stanley Hotel (in the style of Minnewaska or the Otesaga) which we also toured – unofficially. They did advertise a Grand Tour of the hotel with narration, hay ride and meal —but, alas, they were booked for the day. We would have passed anyway; it didn’t quite seem worth the $125 a person.

We saw an older version of our vehicle (Roadtrek 210 Popular) in the library parking lot and stopped to say hello as two people were sitting up front with the windows open. The male owner said he was living in Spokane, WA and was visiting this area and when he asked where we were from I replied my usual “Upstate NY.” We continued talking about hiking in the area and then he stopped and back-upped. “So where in upstate NY are you from?” “Near Binghamton,” I said. And so he told us that he was brought up in Greene, NY. Just one more example of – it’s a small world.

We are camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. Lovely setting. With no hookups or showers (meaning we need to be self-sufficient in our vehicle for water and energy to run the lights, frig. , heater -- if needed, etc.) Because of (a-hum) Alan’s youth, we only pay $10 a night here.

Went to an outdoor evening Park Ranger program, the amphitheater just a short walk from our campsite. Park Rangers seem to be a unique breed, knowledgeable, and committed to the outdoors and the park service. The presenter has been a ranger for 16 years and is one of the few that live in the park year round. His presentation included a short summary of the national park designations – there are 58 national parks – and an additional 28 categories of areas designated “national” – inc monuments, historical sites, etc. With wonderful large screen slides of some gorgeous natural features around the country. Inspiring us to plan to visit more and more of these incredible places.

Last week we really enjoyed a ranger-led hike in the alpine tundra (above tree line), which supplied us with clear identifications of flora and fauna and explanations of how elevation effects the wildlife – especially how the low-lying wildflowers grow slowly and with deep tap roots and stay shielded from the cold and wind by their stunted height.

The ranger also told wonderful anecdotes about the outdoors and the people who traverse it. And if it seems like she may have been too serious and dry, I assure you her talk was sprinkled with such wisdom as how to distinguish between elk and deer droppings, attributing her learning to a 9 year-old boy who had hiked with her. She taught us that “You can fit deer poop up your nose, but elk poop is too big to fit.”

And what did you learn today?

1 comment:

Jody said...

Wow, I know exactly where you are as 20 years ago, I almost moved there. I especially enjoy the pictures and am so-o-o happy that you have taken up helicopter riding.