This view of the Rocky Mountains as we approached Denver excited all of us. I enjoy this same scene when I visit Ryan now, and I still get the same thrill whenever I see those snow-capped peaks.
We arrived at Spruce Lake RV Park in Estes Park, Colorado, and all of us were glad to spend the next few days doing things instead of sitting, driving, and spending seemingly endless days in the RV. Ryan and Justin leaped out of the RV, grabbed their bicycles we had strapped on the back, and headed off for a ride. We all fished, played miniature golf, and some of us shopped for groceries, prepared food, and drank Coors.
There are plenty of places to pull over, get out and hike to better appreciate the rapidly increasing elevation and changing terrain. We stopped at all of them.
Tundra Communities Trailhead:
and played in snow along Lava Cliffs.
Things got a bit worrisome around halfway when we reached the Visitors Center at 11,796 feet elevation.
Ryan really did feel as bad as he looked. (Yes, I was that awful mother that took a photo of my child before I understood how much he was suffering and that it was a potentially serious situation.) A ranger told us he had altitude sickness and advised us to head back down to a lower elevation immediately, with plenty of stops for water along the way.
The doctors at Timberline Medical told us the same thing. Altitude sickness happens when people don't acclimate to elevation and ascend too quickly. Even though Ryan now lives only 60 miles away from the park at an elevation of 5,000 feet, he still suffers from altitude sickness above 12,000 feet, as he found out when he tried to climb Grays and Torreys Peak a few years ago. Because we were really concerned about Ryan's headache, shortness of breath, dehydration, and confusion (approaching delirium!) we stayed at a lower elevation for the rest of our time in the park. There is so much to see that this was easy to do.
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my favorite National Parks, and Bear Lake is one of my favorite places in the park.
We spent three days in the park, which really isn't enough. I've been back at least a dozen times since then and never tire of the beauty.
Last week I mentioned that one of the reasons I was hesitant about the trip was that I didn't want to do the same things I do at home, but have those things be harder to accomplish. I did still have to do laundry in the laundromat at the RV park before we left, but I had the excitement of seeing elk while I did it. That never happens at home!
Next week: on the road to Wyoming