Relaxing Stroll on Lily Lake

Beautiful Lily Lake is right across the street from Twin Sisters trailhead on highway 7. A flat .8 mile trail circles the lake. This is an easier walk for anyone who struggles with strenuous terrain. Several benches are available offering an opportunity to rest and soak in the gorgeous views. We enjoyed showing Cecy the little ducks on the lake and the pretty wild flowers that surround it.  This is a spot I expect to return to again and again, especially when Cecy starts walking. She took a few cautious steps on her own yesterday – so that might be soon!

Ducks
Baby Duck with Her Momma
Summer wild flowers surround Lily Lake
Summer wild flowers surround Lily Lake

Twin Sisters Peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park

A couple of months after our wedding my husband brought me to Estes Park, CO. The first hike we went on was Twin Sisters Peaks. When we made it to the top, I looked over at the surrounding mountains in awe and instantly fell in love with the area.

Newlyweds - Mountain Love
Newlyweds – Mountain Love

Fast forward three years and we hiked the same mountain plus a baby and a sister-in-law! We began at the Twin Sisters trail head which is located six miles south of Estes Park on Highway 7.

Me and my mountain baby
Me and my mountain munchkin

I was excited to share this summit hike with my little one, but next time we will probably leave her home with a babysitter. My husband carried her, but that meant I also carried a lot of weight in my pack so the three of us would have enough water, snacks and gear. Baby gear = diapers, wipes, sunscreen, hat, change of clothes … we could have over-packed!?

We were slowly chugging up the mountain with extra weight on our backs when we ran into the landslide area about 1.5 miles in. We navigated over loose rocks and a steeper slope.

Landslide Damage
Landslide Damage

Once we crossed, we found that the landslide wiped out several switch backs so we had to make it up three steep vertical climbs that were approximately 20-25 yards each. This was the part that I was most concerned about with our baby, even though my husband was very careful.

*2020 Update: This section remains steep, but has been improved.

Despite the new challenges, this is such a fun hike and the views of Longs Peak from the top are truly amazing. This was my sister-in-law’s first summit hike which was very cool to share with her too.

Round trip is about 7 miles reaching 11,413 ft of elevation on the West Summit, a gain of 2,253 ft. The East Summit is slightly higher, but we decided to shorten the trip this time by going up just one side. The final approach to the East Summit is a fun class 2 scramble.

View from the top
View from the top

2020 Update on Twin Sisters hike:

My husband recently hiked Twin Sisters (late May 2020). He took this video from the top of the East Summit on an early morning. Twin Sisters melts out sooner than some of the other summit hikes in the area, so it’s a great early season trail. It’s always good to check trail reports/conditions to make sure you have the right gear, especially during the spring when weather conditions are always changing. For the most part, the trail is similar to the conditions we wrote about nearly 5 years ago. We include Twin Sisters on our list of 9 hikes with amazing views.

View from East Summit of Twin Sisters – Spring 2020

What I’m (Constantly) Reading

We are heading back to Colorado in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait. Between trips I day dream about waking up to mountain vistas and research hikes. My go-to hiking resource is “Rocky Mountain National Park, The Complete Hiking Guide” by Lisa Foster.

I bought this guide a couple of years ago as a gift for my husband at Kind Coffee, our can’t-miss coffee shop in Estes Park, CO. My favorite part of the book is the ‘destination chart’ in the appendix. Foster lists basically every destination in RMNP and it’s distance, trailhead, elevation starting point, elevation gain, and rating (grade, class and snow/ice). When we are hiking with our 10 month old, I’ve been looking for hikes that are 6 miles or less round trip and have a low grade and class rating.  Foster also put together a helpful list of over 50 attractions in the book’s index under “family-friendly hiking destinations”.

Sadly, a week after I bought the guide downtown Estes Park and much of the surrounding area was hit by a devastating flood. Even though the town did an amazing job rebuilding, we’ve seen major changes in trails including one of our favorites, Twin Sisters Peak. I’ll write about our adventure with navigating the landslide damage soon!

As a supplement to the guide, we also like to check out sites like Rocky Mountain Hiking Trails.com.

Apple Orchard Outing in Kansas City

Last week Cecy and I went apple picking at Cider Hill Family Orchard located at 3341 N. 139 Street
Kansas City, KS 66109. I can’t stop talking about how much fun we had there. The people who work at the orchard are  nice and helpful. We decided to pick a peck bag which is about 10 pounds of apples and costs $8.50. Cecy loved the Apple Wagon that picks you up and drops you off by the type of apples you want to pick. They have 18 different types of apples in the orchard. When you are done, you get back in the wagon, bring your bag back to the store and pay for them there. You can also grab some apple doughnuts, apple cider slushes or other goodies in the store and enjoy them on their picnic tables.

Apple Wagon
Apple Wagon

The orchards were pretty and the apples were tasty!  10 pounds of apples is a lot of apples. Besides munching on them and adding them to salads, we made a caramel apple pie which was delicious. Here is the recipe I used from the Food Network’s Pioneer Woman.

Caramel Apple Pie
Caramel Apple Pie

An Apple a Day
An Apple a Day

Picking Apples
Picking Apples