Our trip through Colorado marked the end of our Western journey as we began to head back east to Atlanta for two dear friends’ wedding. Luckily the timing was just right, we pulled into Rocky Mountain National Park three days before the campgrounds closed for the season. We camped at Timber Creek where we were serenaded all night, every night by the resident elk population bugling to their mates. Liam and I explored the campground and got a front row seat to watch one particularly large male elk calling to his ladies, it was quite the sight.
We spent our days hiking around the park and keeping warm. The first day we enjoyed a quiet 7.4 mile hike to the headwaters of the Colorado River – the same river we paddled in Moab that nearly swamped the boat. We enjoyed a pleasant picnic along these calmer banks, watching minnows dart among the rocks and even stumbled upon a mother moose and her baby.
Later in the day we explored the Alpine Visitor Center and hiked up to an alpine overlook that offered stunning views of the Rocky Mountain peaks and lakes far below. In case you’re curious alpine environments are designated to anything above 11,400ft. Few species, both plant and animal, can survive up here and those that do, are extremely susceptible to the effects of climate change which threaten to destroy their delicate ecosystem.
The next day Rick and I traded off parenting duties and each of us got to do our own solo hike while the other minded the kids. During my turn entertaining the kids we stumbled on a herd of elk moving through a thicket. As we tried to back away so as not to upset them a mother moose and her baby came charging through the trees. It was the equivalent of a traffic jam in nature. Luckily the kids and I were far enough out of the way that the animals ignored us and quickly went their own separate ways. Meanwhile, Rick thoroughly enjoyed his hike to the top of Deer Mountain where he stood above the clouds and got to watch them sail gently by beneath him.
Despite the short stay, we felt like we got to see much of the park. After a short stint boondocking in Fort Collins and exploring their local farmers market, we made our way to Denver to visit my Uncle Paul’s family.
Liam and Cora Jean were excited to meet another cousin and had fun learning to golf with Sylas and playing with the neighborhood kids. Rick and I were well fed by my Uncle Paul and cousin Shaina, and enjoyed hearing colorful family stories each night over delicious meals. My aunt and uncle have been living in Denver for well over 30 years and as a painter my uncle knows the city and it’s neighborhoods like the back of his hand. He took us on several tours of the city and surrounding towns giving us the history and fun backstories on the various properties he’s worked on in the past.
I hadn’t seen that side of the family since our wedding, so it was a long overdue visit. I enjoyed a chance to catch up, meet our newest cousin and sincerely appreciate my aunt and uncle opening their home to us!