Thursday August 21, 2014
Moraine Park Campground
Rocky Mountain National Park
Things are glowing when we pull out of the campground on our way to the Fern Lake Trailhead. The road to the trailhead goes right from the campground. I suggested we hike down there and forget the car until David told me the trailhead was at the end of the road about 3 miles. That would add 6 miles to our hike. Well then, I think I’ll change my mind.
We are at the trailhead at 6:30 and find at least a half dozen other cars there first and two pull in right behind us. RMNP in August. But, as I’ve said before, we’re dawdlers so they all just pass us by and for the most part we have the trail to ourselves.
Fern Lake is 3.8 miles away with the falls a mile or so before it. Our round trip, IF we don’t wander off somewhere, will be 7.6 miles.
The trail of course is UP and UP. It is very nice to star out gradually and of course follows the river. The wildflowers are in abundance. I’ll try not to include too many and to name the ones I can.
These are the rocky mountains and this is a rocky tril. Some really big boulders have been left or rolled down these mountains. I’ll try to include us standing next to them so you can get any idea of their size.
Sun is up and casting long shadows. I love looking so tall. That giant oval is my hat hanging from my walking stick. I won’t need it until I get out where the sun will start driving my eyes crazy.
That’s me at the bottom.
Some wildflowers are taller than David and seem to have aphids on their stems. Nature is so interesting.
We come to our first landmark. This is the bridge over the water at the foot of “the pool”
With all the dying lodgepoles and last years flood, many of the waterways are jammed with logs and trees. Look like it would be pretty hard to get into the pool with these logs in it.
From a distance this lichen was so bright it looked like paint on the rock or a yellow sign.
We’re moving on up toward the falls as we cross the river on another on rail bridge.
This is not fern falls but it’s a beautiful little spot.
Between the trees in the distance we see another beautiful falls but this isn’t Fern Falls either. We later looked at a map and it doesn’t appear there is any authorized trail that goes even near it.
I think we are both surprised when we meet each other on the trail.
We do finally come to Fern Falls. It too has so much debris pilled up that it is hard to appreciate its height and size.
This is our last hike in Rocky Mountain National park and we have finally met a horse on the trail and luckily in a place where we could stand aside rather than have to back up.
I don’t know how these horses do these rocky trails carrying a ride. I’d think they’d trip and break a leg.
The trail from the falls to the lake is short but very rocky. When we get to the lake we fine a great little log cabin that we discover is used by the park ??????????. It has a huge woodpile out back and a corral for the horses that evidentially carry the rangers and supplies up here.
Our first view of the lake shows a huge talus slope across from where the trail comes to the lake.
Great contemplation and lunch spot leaning up against a large rock staring at the lake.
We decide to walk a little ways along the shore. There really isn’t a trail and at one point we come to a small inlet. I assume this water is coming from further up the mountains. We cross it to go just a little further along.
The view from this end of the lake is quite different. We are no longer across from the talus slope. It’s now on our right.
I’m sure you know where this is going. There’s a little mud and not much trail but on we go.
This is an entirely different view of the lake.
We go on a little further to get a better look at those mountains we didn’t know were there. Now we’re into some wetlands. I think this is going to mean wet feet.
Another inlet into the lake to cross.
Ok now what? We’re have way around.
He takes the low road, I take the high road.
From just beyond the talus slope we can see the tan path leading to the lake. That’s where we came in on the trail. And look at those mountains we would not have seen had we not just kept going to circumnavigate the lake.
We arrive at the lake’s outlet. The water seems in a hurry to get to Fern Falls but this little mallard is swimming around in the current. There is a long one rail bridge here and I see her as I look down. She is leaning over the little rapids.
Turns out there are a group of gals in the flat water above the cascades. They are often bottoms up going after whatever it is they are eating. I spend a long time enjoying their antics and taking too many pictures of them.
But we do have to head back and here are some of the things we find on our way down.
We run into a trail ride group. The stables is near this trailhead so I’m not surprised to see them here and again we are lucky we are in a fairly wide flat spot on this not so wide, not so flat trail. Their leader strikes a pose for the camera. Too funny!!
I can actually enjoy all the flowers along the trail even more going downhill.
We’re being watched.
As we get back down to the lower levels the ferns become more abundant along the trail and near the river.
At one point along the river we go for quite a way walking through what is clearly a flooded out area. Everything is “knee deep” in river sand. It stretches from the river into a talus slope coming down from the mountain here. Everything has been buried.
This has been a great trail. We walked a bit more than the 7.6 miles we were expecting in order to circumnavigate the lake. Not it’s time to say goodbye to the river and head for home. We’ve got packing up to do if we are going to pull out tomorrow.
When we get back we find a drifter eyeing the picnic table in our backyard.
Soon we see she is being followed.
They decide to make themselves at home while we are working. Can you see her lying in the grass?? He keeps watch for a while and then wanders off.
Not sure if she’s chewing him out for leaving his post or saying goodbye to us. But if it’s the latter, it’s a pretty fine goodbye from the folks who live year round at Rocky Mountain National Park.