Friday, September 16, 2016

Hiking in the Colorado Rockies -- Monarch Lake, Rocky Mountain NP

My Two Lucky Ladies During a Hike Around Monarch Lake

Roger here...  We had two more days in Grand Lake, Colorado.  We needed to make the most of them.  The weather was gorgeous.  Guess what?  We went hiking.

MONARCH LAKE LOOP in the Arapaho National Forest....

Our first hike (dog friendly) required a drive to nearby Granby, followed by a nine-mile drive on a well-maintained dirt road through the Arapaho National Forest to the trail head.

Monarch Lake

The view that greeted us at the trail head was jaw-dropping.  

The beginning of this four-mile loop offered spectacular views of the idyllic islands in the lake.  It was difficult to pick the best pictures, so I am including three.

This view of a very green peninsula jutting into this nearly black lake was also worth a photo.

As the four of us strolled along the shoreline, signs of autumn appeared on lichen-covered rocks.

What a beautiful day to enjoy the best hike we have had with our dogs since leaving Mission, TX in May.  

Lake views on the right.  Rock formations on the left.

Before we started our hike at the trail head, a local lady told us that we were likely to see moose in the marshy area beyond the lake.  Yay, moose! When we arrived at 
that portion of the hike, we found a colorful vista, but no moose :-(.

The trail led us deep into the forest at the far end of the lake before changing direction for the return hike.  We forded small streams as we walked along the creek that fed the lake.  Bandido was much more agile than me. That is why he went across first.

There were other interesting features along the way.

Hmm.  Do we cross along the log or hop along the rocks in the water?

Another interesting "bridge"

Watch your footing?  A blind step could result in a sprained ankle.

Near the end of the hike we stopped to eat the cheese sandwiches in our packs.  I begged Dianne to not take another picture of me with a mouthful of food.  She ignored me.  She is getting even for the punk hair style shot of her from the previous post.

A nice bridge crossed the creek in the photo below, but Dianne thought the dogs might like to splash across.  

She was correct.  Dianne is always correct.  

She crossed the bridge and called to the dogs as I released them (one at a time).  Bandido crossed tentatively, smiling the entire way.  Tequila bounded across without a care in the world.

The photo of Monarch Lake below was taken at the end of the hike, from the dam near the trail head.  So pretty.

After the hike I visited the very small grocery store in Grand Lake to get the fixin's for fish tacos.  It was like a visit in time, back to the '50s.  I made a mess in the kitchen in order to give Dianne a belated birthday dinner.  They turned out pretty well (pat on the back :-).  (He even made the sauce from scratch with a whole row of ingredients from our pantry.   -- D.)

They were spicy and DELICIOUS! -- D.

COYOTE VALLEY TRAIL at Rocky Mountain National Park....

After the longish hike around Monarch Lake on the previous day, we were looking for something a little tamer on our last day in the area.  We found it in the national park along the Coyote Valley Trail.

We spent about an hour strolling along this short, flat trail on the edge of the Colorado River.

Huge Mountain Meadow

We hoped to see a moose along this trail where they are frequently spotted.

The grassy areas near the river certainly lent themselves as ideal moose habitat.

The frosty depressions in the grass along the trail were very likely where moose (or elk) bedded down the night before.  However, no moose sightings for us --- again.  (The closest we came to seeing a moose other than the one shown in our previous blog was a BIG pile of very fresh moose poop in our campground; alas, he (or she) did not venture through our site to get their picture taken on my wildlife cam.  -- D.)

So tiny here!
The Colorado River flowed next to us throughout our walk.

The mountain vistas along the trail were ever present on the far side of the grasslands.  

The yellow color on the mountains were aspens wearing their autumn colors.  The photo below is a close-up of the same view.

(We literally watched the aspens turn to gold from day to day during our week-long stay.   Each day brought more and more golden vistas. -- D.)

Our time near the west end of Rocky Mountain National Park has ended.  After a successful (white knuckle) drive through two Colorado mountain passes and trips around Denver and through Colorado Springs, we are enjoying some quiet time at one of our very favorite full-hookup campgrounds.  We actually altered our travel southward so we could stop here for a weekend.  

This is our fourth visit to Mountaindale Cabins & RV Resort.  It is nestled in a tiered fashion along the side of a mountain about 15 miles south of Colorado Springs, CO.  During one evening doggie walk around the campground, we saw two does with four fawns... 

...then further into the campground we came upon six bucks with huge antlers wandering through the campground. 

They were very interested in Bandido and Tequila and stopped to watch us, just as we stopped to watch them.   Our doggies were very good; after one initial bark from Bandido, they stood quietly sniffing the air and looking at the deer.

Looking at our campsite, you can see why this is such a relaxing place.  The pink granite graveled campsites are huge and shady.  The imaginative landscape architecture and beautiful flower gardens add to the feeling of tranquility.

I called for a reservation one week before our arrival.  We were very lucky to get the last spot that was available for our three-night visit.  Whew!  There have been many improvements since our last visit, including cable TV for a portion of the campground, and excellent wifi --- truly excellent wifi.  Next summer we've decided upon a trip to a single point rather than an extensive loop with multiple stops.  This will be that single point. We've made reservations for the month of August.


This is a picture of the dogs getting a drink of clear mountain water in the creek on the Monarch Lake Loop just before bounding across the creek to Dianne.  We only let them drink from streams in pristine mountain areas.  

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