June 15, 2020 Estes Park/RMNP, CO (Day 3)

Wow! I am really getting used to sleeping in. I got up at 7:30 this morning, while Bob got up at 5 AM to turn on the heat. He came back to bed, but got up at 6:00. It was about 45 degrees when I got up. The skies were mostly cloudy, but no wind to speak of today. We dressed for cooler temps in the mountains since we were hiking up to Alberta Falls. Our reservation time to enter the park was 12:00, so we had some lunch first before leaving. We drove the short distance to the entrance sign which we can literally see from the back of my campsite. We had to wait in line for a few minutes before they checked us through, but it went fast.

By now, the clouds had broken up a little and blue sky peeked through in spots.

We traveled on Bear Lake Road and the first sign we came to said that the Bear Lake Parking Lot was full. We drove further seeing many cars going in the other direction, so we thought we’d take a chance. Along the way, some cars were pulled off on the side of the road. That’s either a sign of some hikers or wildlife nearby. The latter was true in this case. We pulled over and parked. In the gully by the stream were 4 bull elk grazing.

Bob called them 5 x 5’s (5 prongs on each side) and in velvet.

We stood and watched those beautiful animals for 5-10 minutes.

Moving along, we reached the Park and Ride and there was lots of parking available.

We decided not to chance it and parked there to ride the shuttle to Glacier Gorge.

Masks were strongly suggested on the shuttle and they were only filling to half capacity (14-15 riders). There was a plastic divider protecting the driver from the riders. We waited at the shuttle stop about 5 minutes and we were on our way.

I saw another mule deer bedded down in the grass on the hillside.

Once we got to Glacier Gorge, we found the trailhead to Alberta Falls.

It was a .6 mile one way (once you got to the trailhead), moderate hike to the falls with only 645 ft. of gain. The falls were at an elevation of 9,885 ft.

We wanted to start out easy giving our bodies time to adjust to the altitude, so we drank lots of water and took our time.

It’s a popular hike, so there were a fair number of people hiking. Unfortunately, less than 1/2 of them were wearing masks. One lady who was wearing a mask herself even thanked us for wearing ours. It’s a beautiful trail crossing the stream multiple times over the course of the hike.

One of the beautiful spots along the way are the orange rocks along the gorge. Very picturesque!

The closer we got, the more we could hear the roar of the falls.

There were many spots to stop along the way to catch an amazing view!

Once we got near the top, the falls were awesome!

Such power in that water!

We rested a little at the top which took us an hour to reach and then we headed down.

The walk down only took 30 minutes and before we knew it, we were back down at the shuttle stop. These footprints marked where you should stand to keep your 6′ social distancing.

The shuttles were running quickly, but with the number of hikers riding down from Bear Lake and fewer riders allowed in the shuttle, it took us about 20 minutes to catch a ride on the shuttle.

We got back at the Park and Ride around 3 PM and drove back to the campground. We had dressed too warmly for our hike, so we were anxious to get out of our jeans and fleeces. The temp had climbed to 74 degrees by late afternoon. We took our chairs and sat outside with Auggie under a big redwood tree with our view of the mountains overlooking the valley.

Out in the meadow below us, Bob caught sight of 2 bull elk. We watched and waited and it wasn’t long before they made their way into the campground.

We continued to follow and watch them walk right through campsites, jump over the fence with ease, and cross the highway.

Cars slowed down and stopped to let them pass and then they were gone. How awesome is that? The campground owners told us that we would see them in the campground, but I never would have believed it, had I not seen it for myself. We sat outside until dinnertime watching a few more campers arrive. It turned out to be a beautiful day.

We made arrangements for our repair guy to deliver the fuse on Tuesday morning, instead of stopping after work tonight. He’s gone above and beyond to help us out so whatever works best for him is good for us. Tomorrow, we have a reservation for 10 AM to enter the park, so hopefully getting into the park a little earlier will help us find parking. We will sleep well tonight after all the fresh air and exercise.

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