|A Return to Estes Park, part 2|
by Stormy on August 09, 2008
An intense hike through the Rocky Mountain National Park took the marmots from the Bear Lake Trailhead all the way to the Fern Lake Trailhead.
Early in the morning we started our long hike from the Bear Lake Trailhead, one of the top tourist areas in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Snow was under the weather, so it was only Summer and Stoney who joined me for this trek. We hiked up the Flattop Mountain Trail before switching over to the intermediate trail that runs towards Odessa Lake between Flattop and Bierstadt. The hike was uphill for most of the trip until Lake Helene. From there we turned north on the Fern Lake Trail, which was generally more scenic and sloped down.
We looked at Grace Falls, stopped at Odessa Lake, Fern Lake and took the side trail to Spruce Lake. The weather progressively turned from bright and sunny to overcast. After our stop at Spruce Lake, it started to drizzle. We hiked down to Fern Falls where rain caught up to us, making for a miserable remainder to the hike. By the time we made it to The Pool we were pretty wet, but by now the steep rocky slopes ended and we were hiking along the infamous Big Thompson River.
Even though we were on flat terrain now, we still had a pretty long hike ahead of us, having to cover two and a half miles of trail to reach the Fern Lake parking area on the west side of Moraine Park, where we were supposed to be met and taken back up to Bear Lake to get our vehicle. It was a long wet hike, but as always it was wonderful to spend a day in the park.
The entire hike was 11 miles and we contemplated completing the hike loop by branching from The Pool to Cub Lake, up hill to Bierstadt Lake and then over the ridge and back down to Bear Lake. This would have cut two and a half miles along the Big Thompson and added four and a half miles of steep slopes. We would have done this, but the rain was wearing us down and we decided to save this hike for another day.
On the way out of the park we stopped at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center where we ran into Spruce and Squirrely Marmots. After a short chat they decided to join us. Yep. It's a six-pack of roving marmots!