This would be our last day in Rocky Mountain National Park, and we debated what hike to do. All week, I’d wanted to do the Flattop Mountain hike, which one of the rangers described as a “bucket list” hike. It’s rated “strenuous” and involves nearly 4.5 miles of straight uphill hiking to the top of Flattop Mountain, which is at 12,324 feet. Given the bad conditions we’d experienced on Trail Ridge Road the day before, we weren’t sure whether it would be low-30s and snowing at the peak. Plus, we were getting a bit of a late start, and it’s a long hike. Instead, we decided to hike the Emerald Lake Trail, a 3.5 mile hike that passes three lakes. Yes, every hike we did was up a mountain to a lake, and this hike was no different. It’s a good thing we didn’t hike to Flattop Mountain, because we learned later that there were 4-6 inches of snow at the top, so we’d have had to turn back.
The first lake we came to was Nymph Lake, a small lake with lily pads.
The second lake was Dream Lake.
The third lake was Emerald Lake, and it was indeed emerald! We took a break and ate our lunch on the rocks near the lake.
|At Emerald Lake|
Because the hike to Emerald Lake didn’t take us long, we decided to hike to Lake Haiyaha, which intersected with the Emerald Lake trail.
This was our favorite hike! The trail went up and wound around the exterior of a mountain so that you had awesome views. At one point I got scared when I saw how high up we were when the trail went on the side of the mountain, but I just kept looking at my feet and got through it. The trail ended in a boulder field, where you had to scramble for a bit to get to the lake.
|View from Lake Haiyaha trail|
|On Lake Haiyaha Trail|
|View from Lake Haiyaha trail|
|On Lake Haiyaha trail|
After that hike, we walked around Bear Lake, which was a short walk from the parking lot.
Goodbye, Rocky Mountain National Park! We loved you!
We were so sad to leave our beautiful rental house, but we had to pack up and head out. We went back to Boulder and was hoping to explore more, but it was cloudy and raining, which was odd because the radar map showed no rain at all. So we ate lunch again at the Native Foods Cafe. Dave is an omnivore and doesn’t like fake meats, but even he liked the vegan chicken sandwich. Then we drove to Denver and found our next rental house, a little carriage house in a Denver neighborhood. Through this door, you entered a courtyard, and then the newly remodeled, modern carriage house was off of the courtyard.
|Door to the courtyard and our carriage house|
I’m not sure what neighborhood we were in, but it was in the south near South Broadway and had lots of independent shops and restaurants. I really liked it. Right near us was a vegan food market with an awesome name–Nooch–which only vegans would understand and a bar and restaurant called Sputnik that served a vegan version of all their menu items. We parked and walked into Downtown Denver, which took a little less than an hour. We walked around for a bit before heading back. It was pretty cold–only in the 50s–and cloudy.
We took the light rail into Downtown and explored for most of the day. As I said in my running recap, there was a major cold front coming through Denver, and they were predicting the first snow of the season. It didn’t snow in the city but was very cold in the morning. It warmed up in the afternoon and was comfortable, but we did not see Denver’s sunny and warm weather that it’s known for. Dave took a bunch of pictures, but to be honest I’m tired of going through pictures, so here’s just one.
|The Union Station light rail station|
Overall, it was a great vacation and we had a lot of fun. It’s too bad that a cold front came through at the end (it was supposed to be 80 and sunny the day we left), but oh well! We still had fun. And with this trip, we knocked one more national park off the list, bringing our total to 14.