Riding High in New Kid Carrier

On our most recent trip to Colorado we were excited to try out our new kid carrier for a hike up to Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.
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After renting packs for our last few trips, we decided to buy a Deuter carrier from REI (similar).

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Cecy enjoyed the view riding up high. She seemed very comfortable and there was more space between her and my husband so they didn’t get as hot. We also bought a sun roof and rain cover for the carrier (similar) which will come in handy this summer.

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The Deuter carrier came with a little stuffed bear which we nicked named ‘buddy’.Overall, I think this is going to be a great investment for family hiking adventures.

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Toddler Self Guided Tour of Sprague Lake

We took a quick weekend trip to Estes Park, Colorado last weekend to celebrate my husband’s upcoming birthday! His bestfriend staid with us for part of the trip, so my husband got some good ‘guy-time’ hiking in while I took Cecy on a mommy-daughter hiking adventure around Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The weather was perfect, the scenery was gorgeous and we enjoyed taking our time to explore every rock, puddle and log along the half mile loop.

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At 8,688′ of elevation, there was still a little snow melting on the path in a few places.

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Cecy loved running across the wooden bridges that cross marshy areas.

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She climbed on the smooth boulders that rest off the trail.

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Several wooden benches line the path which are great for taking a snack break or just sitting down to enjoy the mountain views. These are also great spots for family photo ops!

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A park sign points out the peaks you can see from Sprague Lake on the Continental Divide: Half Mountain, Thatchtop, Taylor Peak, Otis Peak, Hallet Peak, Tyndall Glacier, Flattop Mountain and Notchtop.

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I cherish this special time with my little hiking buddy.

Rocky Mountain Tot Goes to Cub Lake

Last week we headed to Colorado to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary, because what could be more romantic than bringing a one-and-a-half year old hiking? Well, maybe it wasn’t the most romantic trip we’ve been on, but I couldn’t think of a prettier place to celebrate than Rocky Mountain National Park.

Weather
When we plan hikes with our little one the first thing we think about is the weather conditions. The Bear Lake area currently has 40 inches of snow. We wanted to stay in lower elevation, so we decided to check out the Cub Lake trail which is in the majestic Moraine Valley. We were lucky to arrive on a sunny day, but melting snow made the trail muddy in places and we went through a few snow patches.

Gear
It’s amazing how fast Cecy is growing.  We are planning to replace her beloved baby carrier for a sturdier kid carrier soon, but for this trip we rented one at the Warming House in Estes Park for $10 per day (similar). I bought trekking poles (similar) which helped keep our balance especially in the snow, and took some of the impact off our knees and back. I was also very thankful for my waterproof hiking boots!

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The Cub Lake trail is 2.5 miles each way. The trail-head starts out in the Moraine Valley where we spotted elk grazing right off the trail.

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Feeling the Burn
Beyond the valley you enter a wooded section of the trail that is scarred by fire damage. Truthfully, the first time I hiked through this area I didn’t think it was very pretty. This time I decided to find the unique beauty in it which made a big difference on how much more I enjoyed this section of the hike.

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There were a few uphill bursts before the lake – made more challenging by snow and baby.

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We made it to Cub Lake and took a little refreshment break! Later in the season we’d likely see lily pads on top.

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After our break I offered to take turns and have Cecy ride on my back. This lasted about 25 minutes going down hill. Aren’t I nice? But honestly, I couldn’t have gone much further. It was tough work!! I’m excited to try again and build up some endurance and muscles this summer.

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I took Cecy for about 10% of the hike (downhill). 

 

4 Reasons October is My New Favorite Month in Rocky Mountain National Park

Every season in Rocky Mountain National Park is unique and beautiful, but early October is my new favorite time to visit. What makes it the best?

  • We easily found a parking spot at the typically popular Bear Lake lot when we hiked to scenic Mills Lake
Mills Lake
Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • The temperature was crisp, but once we started moving it was very comfortable (mid 50s)
Jumping for Joy - October is the best in RMNP
Jumping for Joy – October is the best in RMNP
  • The colorful aspen autumn leaves are stunning!
Golden Colorado
Golden Colorado aspens on hike to Mills Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Elk bugling season – this is a great time of year for spotting wildlife and watching the unique rituals of men elk trying to impress the most lady elk with high-pitched bugling noises, picking fights with other males and showing off their impressive antlers. The city of Estes Park hosts Elk Fest to celebrate the season. More info…

    Elk Fest
    Elk Fest in Estes Park, Colorado

Our Rocky Mountain Tot goes to Bierstadt Lake

On a busy summer weekend at Rocky Mountain National Park we were disappointed when we had to park in the park & ride and cram on a shuttle to get to our hiking destination. The ride turned out to be great because our knowledgeable shuttle driver pointed out areas of interest as we passed by. One of his highlighted destinations was Bierstadt Lake. Our driver explained the lake was named after renowned 19th century landscape artist, Albert Bierstadt.  Here is a link to Bierstadt’s work.

At the end of July we hiked to Bierstadt Lake with my daughter Cecy in her Ergobaby.  There are several ways to get to the lake. We decided to start at Bear Lake trailhead which is two miles each way. The first .6 miles starts out along the Flattop Mountain route before splitting off.

Cecy at Bierstadt Lake
Cecy at Bierstadt Lake

From the junction we followed the trail through forest away from the mountains. Once we arrived at the lake we took a nice rest to let Cecy have some time out of her carrier (it was a pretty warm day), eat a snack and take in the views. I think the best view is when you walk half way around the lake and turn back to see Flattop Mountain in the distance.We hiked back to our starting point at Bear Lake – a mostly uphill return journey. As an alternative, you could continue for 1.3 miles to end up at Bierstadt Trailhead and take the shuttle back to Bear Lake parking lot. I would think this route would be easier, but I’ll have to try it out to confirm.

Bierstadt Lake
Bierstadt Lake

I hope to take advantage of the free shuttle system on future hikes to avoid backtracking. Here is a link for more shuttle information and routes.