Unexpected Adventures On The Trail: Hiking In The Rocky Mountain National Park
It was the smell of thin, crisp Colorado air filling my lungs. The strong wind keeping my nose numb. In every direction, it was beautiful. The Rocky Mountain National Park is where I’ve found true passion for adventure. Nearly three million people visit Rocky Mountain National Park each year, but there are endless trails, leaving the parks 12,000-14,000 peaks relatively empty and open to explore.
Hiking in the Rocky Mountains provides time in nature to release the little vial of energy I have stored away after a busy week. When I watched the sunset disappear over the peaks, the little vial of energy turned into a magical connection. I never wanted to leave.
Although it might seem hikers like myself are free spirited sunset gazers, most hikers entering the Rocky Mountains will tell you that good planning is what determines a good trip. Preparation with carrying the essentials is what I’ve found to be most helpful.
To prepare, on my feet I wore my trusted KEEN hiking boots which enabled me to travel light and fast. I wore my thermal workout leggings and a long sleeve shirt with The North Face vest and jacket. In my backpack were my tasty snacks. I don’t get overly hungry on hikes, but it’s better to have something than nothing. Lightweight sandwiches, snack packs with apples, nuts and granola bars are great. Ready to go.
My first hike in The Rocky Mountain National Park began at Glacier Gorge Junction Trailhead. The trail leads to Alberta Falls, followed by Mills Lake, continuing to Lake Haiyaha, onto Dream Lake and Nymph Lake, finishing off at Bear Lake. In total, it’s over seven-miles of breathtaking views.
One of the biggest suggestions for this trail is to take the ‘off trail path’ to Lake Haiyaha. If you take this same trail, starting at Alberta Falls and making your way to Bear Lake, when you come up to Lake Haiyaha Trailhead, keep going past it. About half a mile down you’ll come to a little bridge. If you look to your left, you’ll see a field of rocks. It was an accident when I went this way, but the result was incredible. You can jump through giant rocks of all different sizes and shapes, and even find some caves underneath.
The hike is challenging and exhausting, yet that’s what makes it rewarding. There is nothing you can’t do when you set your mind to it. Simply, challenging yourself to do these hikes for you and you only are completing gratifying. The feeling can't quite be described. You spend hours twisting and turning through trails and rocks, often unsure what the gratification will be. For me, it was scrabbling over giant rocks after taking the path less travelled. There are footprints on the trail behind me and always an uncertain path that lies ahead.
My favourite part about hiking in The Rocky Mountains National Park is discovering I am tougher than I thought and there is always strength to accomplish something amazing, even if it is unexpected. I’m always learning about myself and developing skills. Packing extra snacks, finding new trials and learning the unexpected is what leads to fulfilment and discovery, something I’ll always go back for.