Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sprague Lake, Bear Lake and Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain NP

My husband and I visited Rocky Mountain National Park in early October to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  I showed many photos of the beautiful autumn colors we were fortunate to see in the park in my last post at this link. During our visit we also hiked around a few of the beautiful lakes in the park.  Sprague Lake, a 13 acre lake located along the Bear Lake Roadhas a half mile walkway around it that offers scenic views of  the Continental Divide Peaks of Taylor Peak (13,158 feet), Otis Peak (12,486), Hallett Peak (12,713) and Flattop Mountain (12,324).  The lake is named after Abner Sprague, who, along with his wife, owned a resort in this area from 1910 -1940, and introduced their guests to the pleasure of high water fishing and hiking in this area.

The opposite view from Sprague Lake, as we walked its perimeter.

Another view.

As we walked around the lake, enjoying the scenery, we saw a couple in the distance who were exchanging marriage vows!  Just look at the beautiful mountains in the background as we approached where thye were standing!  (I blurred their faces with an editing program to protect their privacy)

About three miles away from Sprague lake is Bear Lake.  Bear lake's elevation is 9,450 feet, and the trail around it is 0.8 miles.  The top of Hallet Peak can also be seen from Bear Lake...... well as Longs Peak (14,259 feet)! I love how I am learning to recognize the mountains in the park, and I love this view

A close up of the summit of Longs Peak.

As you can see by the informational placard and the trail sign, Bear lake is the starting point for many trails.

We decided to take a trail through the woods to see Alberta Falls. I am not the best vertical climber, and the first part of the trail was easy, but I struggled towards the end as the trail began to climb higher, by about 200 feet to 9,400 feet.

Happily, I kept hiking, and at last was rewarded with the view of Alberta Falls! The scenic 30 foot waterfall thunders down a small gorge on Glacier Creek  If you would like to hear Alberta Falls you can watch a short video on my facebook page at this link. Alberta Falls is named after Alberta Sprague, the wife of Abner Sprague, both of whom were early settlers of Estes park and owned a resort lodge that was located in the early years near Sprague Lake.  Their resort was torn down in 1957 by the parks department to return the land back to a natural state.

My husband and I enjoyed sitting by the falls for awhile, enjoying the sound of the water and the late afternoon sunlight that made the trees glow.

This was the only wildlife we saw on the trails along the lakes and waterfall -- the Golden Mantel Ground Squirrel! They look like chipmunks, but do not have stripes on their head. They are used to seeing many people on the trails and can be brazen, begging for food, but we always follow the rule not to feed the wildlife--there is plenty for them to eat in nature.

The most exciting part of our visits to Rocky Mountain National Park is when we drive up to the highest peaks and walk on the Tundra Trails, but I'll save that for a future post.  If you'd like to see our trip up to the "Roof of the Rockies" last year, click on this link.  This visit we saw the remnants of a snow storm in the high elevations that was there from the week before. It was so beautiful!

See you back here soon!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rocky Mountain National Park in Autumn

The 100th Anniversary celebrations of Rocky Mountain National Park began this year in September, with special events held each month until next September, and my husband and I felt that visiting the park again on our 40th wedding anniversary would be a fun thing to do! I want to thank everyone for all their well wishes on our anniversary and my husband's retirement on that post--you made our celebrations even happier with all your nice comments!

Autumn's full tree and shrub color begins early in the higher elevations of Colorado in September, but we hoped there would still be some color in early October......

....and, happily, we were not disappointed! 

There were still many aspen trees on the lower part of the park in full leaf.

They made a beautiful necklace around the lowest perimeter of the park leading towards Longs Peak

The spectacular Rocky Mountain vistas are breathtaking, but autumn colors along the way made this visit to the park an extra special treat.

We were fortunate that there had also been a snowfall on the high mountain peaks the week before, that made them also look even more defined and beautiful!

Everywhere we drove there were autumn trees to light our way.

The first day we entered the park, we stopped at one of the large meadows towards the late afternoon, as we knew the elk rut season was still in progress, and we hoped to see some elk herds gathered there. The first meadow we stopped at was in the Moraine Park section.  We saw a large elk heard in front of the Stanley Hotel the day before in Estes Park--click here to read that post and see a couple ghosts-- but seeing the elk in Rocky Mountain National Park is always a treat, as they are in a more natural environment.

Again, we were not disappointed!

We watched this herd from afar as the elk bull paid careful attention to his harem of females and young juveniles.  He also entertained us with quite a few bugle calls--click here if you'd like to see a youtube of an elk bugling!

The fencing in the backgrounds of some of the photos above is an effort by RMNP to conserve some of the trees and vegetation from the ever growing elk population. The entire report about this effort can be read here.

We were excited to see two young bulls practicing their dueling skills in the meadow. When they are mature adults they will be able to attract females by proving their superior physical strength as part of the mating ritual, by challenging other bucks and winning the duel.  Some bulls will even fight to the death!

Also delightful for us on our first day in the park, was taking a few strolls along aspen trails.  The wind rustling the quaking aspen tree leaves is such a beautiful sound!  Would you like to hear it? Then please go to my blog's facebook page at this link, and you will!  I posted a short video there. It was quite windy the first day we were in the park. I hope you will also look around at other things on my facebook wall as I always try to share uplifting and interesting things I find on facebook, as well as blog updates and personal things.  I also have an Instagram page which you can access on this link. I am amazed by all the wonderful photos I am finding on Instagram, and connecting with people through photography.

I have more to show you about our autumn visit to Rocky Mountain National Park on future posts. It's a big National Park!

If you'd like to read a more detailed trip we took through the park last year--we traveled the entire Trail Ridge Road through the park, which is the highest continuous paved road in the United States--you can click these links: RMNP Part One, RMNP Part Two, RMNP Part Three.

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