After hitting up Fort Collins on Wednesday, we began Thursday at the Alluvial Fan. We got going pretty early that day to avoid the crowds, but still had to contend with a lack of parking. Still, Meg and I made the trip all the way up the fan and she did shockingly well. I had to help lift her up and hold her hand as she placed her feet carefully on wet rocks. There was definitely some slippage, but overall, I was pretty proud of her! Calvin wanted to go too, of course, but there’s no way he could have made the trip except on one of our backs (and that wouldn’t have been the smartest choice…). Ultimately, he hung out at the bottom of the waterfall throwing rocks in the water, while the rest of the Baumann Clan tossed rocks and enjoyed the nice weather.
We then took a drive around Rocky Mountain National Park via Old Fall River Road. We’d driven past its entrance a few days before. It’s a dirt road with countless switchbacks that ultimately makes its way up to the Alpine Visitor Center. It was a fun drive, though a dusty and somewhat slow one. Calvin actually fell asleep halfway up, though at the top, the kids got to play in a little snow. We also ran across a late-model Nissan Altima whose transmission belt apparently gave out, yielding no forward motion on its part (Mark tried to help to no avail).
Most of Thursday involved driving around RMNP, seeing some marmots, elk, mule deer, and chipmunks. The kids enjoyed getting to see the variety of environments, and a few waterfalls, though we could tell that the incessant driving had worn on them a bit. It was good to take a break from the hiking, but all the driving didn’t really help their demeanor. Still, at least the adults had fun. 🙂
The next day, we tried keeping things a bit light, as the 5K was scheduled for that evening and, well, we wanted to keep our ankles in shape. Obviously, the best thing to do is to get up early and go to Bear Lake, right?
As the picture all the way at the top shows, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. We ended up hiking 2.5 miles or so between Bear Lake and Nymph Lake, and ended up dealing with some cranky kids who either a). didn’t want to hike, or b). wanted to climb every rock they saw. I can’t say that Friday morning was all that “fun” for us, but at least the weather was good, and we could keep things a bit light.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of napping and watching TV. Calvin slept for 3 hours that day, if I remember correctly, as he was catching up for not substantially napping the previous 4 days.
That evening, everyone except Mallory, Meg and Calvin ran a 5K around the lake in Estes Park. The weather stayed pretty good, though a few rain drops fell around the time Brooke was finishing up. The race itself went pretty well for everyone, though I had some qualms with how it started with a hill on a narrow path, where a lot of people slowed down at the beginning and forced us to try and fit around them by jogging on the side of the adjacent road. Ultimately, I did about as well as I did in Hannibal a few weeks earlier, and Brooke did about as well as she wanted to for her first 5K. The elevation affected everyone, to a degree, but being there for a few days (and jogging and hiking…) beforehand made a difference in our performance, I’m sure.
The next morning, Mallory ran the Half Marathon and placed fourth in her age group, so we were all very proud of her. After the marathon, the rest of the Baumann Brigade headed out to do some last minute hiking, while the Linsenbardt side headed to the Moraine Park Discovery Center in RMNP to go on a “discovery hike” with the kids so they could complete their Junior Ranger certifications. This took an hour and a half and, overall, was pretty fun for the kids, as other kids were also along and they finally had someone else to interact with aside from adults.
As you can see, they were pretty pleased with themselves. 🙂
After that, we returned to the house so Calvin could take a nap. Again, everyone mostly hung around the house (though Meg and I briefly headed out to see a friend of mine from high school who happened to be in Estes Park that day with his family) until dinner, our one night out around the area. We ended up at Tavern 1929, a place just outside of town that was a part of a lodge. I’m not sure if it was the fact that we really hadn’t eaten out much that week, or whether we had all done a lot of running recently, or whether it was our last night in Estes Park, but that food was really good. We all left positively stuffed. No complaints, except that the restaurant couldn’t install larger stomachs in our bodies.
That night, we packed things up and prepared to leave. We left the next morning by 8:30 am MST or so (the Baumanns left a little earlier than we did) and made it back to Marshall by 9:00 pm CST. The kids were both shockingly well-behaved for this portion of the trip, likely because they were watching shows on their Kindles again, and because they were tired from the week behind them.
It was a great trip! We look forward to returning to Colorado, though next time, we’ll probably try and hit the southern area of the state. Lots of other national parks to hit up in the coming years, though!