Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Playing Dress Up on the Way to the Gem Lake Hike

Friday August 15, 2014
Glacier Basin Campground
Rocky Mountain National Park



Remember I said yesterday that Rocky Mountain National Park has several sections.  We saw the American Dippers in the south eastern part and today we are doing a hike in what they call the North End. I guess that’s because this section is north  of Estes Park.




On the way we stop by the 3rd and last campground in the park that can take an RV as large as 35’. Aspenglen is a small campground and there are very few sites that we could use. The on line reservation system says there are 6 but we find only two that we would want. #37 and #40. We’ve been very happy with both Glacier Basin and Moraine Park. The latter has the advantage that with our booster we can get internet here which we did not have at Glacier Basin. The advantage of both Aspenglen and Glacier Basin is that they are much smaller than Moraine Park.

After cruising the campground we stop at the second of the 4 visitor centers, the Fall River visitor’s center. This is a beautiful building and even more so inside.

They have simply stunning life size bronze animal figures throughout the information exhibits.

Along with TONS of interesting and informative displays upstairs, they have another excellent topographic map in the lower level.







The map of this area and the Alpine Region to its west.  These maps are so wonderful for giving you the big picture of the park or the area you are in.




The stairway down is beautiful including the lights.






Also down here is what I call the dress up room. It’s designed for kids and has great displays about the people who have been part of this beautiful area over time.

I have loved to dress up all my life and my family can attest that I still do. Since I can fit in clothing for bigger kids, I have a fun time here with one little girl and her parents.


These pictures are for the real Ranger, Gaelyn.  The Ranger Wannabe is on the left and my little friend the Future Ranger is on the right.   This was the very first costume both she and I wanted to try on.   That’s her dad in the mirror.






My second favorite outfit was the buckskin dress. Boy was it heavy.  Wish I hadn’t had to put it on over my shirt and pants and belt. I look a bit thick around the middle.

But how about this trapper?  You know it’s true that trappers and traders often married into the local Chief’s family in order to solidify trading relationships.






And finally, the homesteading couple. I know they were supposed to have dour faces.  I have trouble doing that when I’m having fun





So much for playing around, we have to get hiking. I get the stamp for my passport book which is so full I’m having to put the stamps on paper and tape them into the book.  And then we’re off to the Lumpy Ridge Trail Head to do the Gem Lake hike.  What kind of a name is lumpy ridge??



I really would have liked to go to Bridal Veil falls after the super hike from yesterday. But you can see from the map that it would be 6.3 miles one way. I’m such a slow hiker that a nearly 13 hour mile trip hike  would require an overnight for me. LOL

David’s dressed in his rain gear for warmth and because showers can happen at any time here.   Notice all the wildflowers along the path.  It’s so beautiful.





This turns out to be the hike of rocks, reflections and mushrooms.



Well except for this cutie.  He’s the red squirrel.  I may have shown pictures of him before. He’s a loud fearless chatterer and I get a big kick out of him.




The hike starts out with rocks.



It continues with rocks.  We wonder how this one landed exactly as it did. Most of these stones were part of rock slides.  I try it out, it’s just my size and so I know where to go if it rains.




Rocks beside the trail, lining the trail and in the trail.




We get up high enough to see a bit in the distance and then up up up some more.  I’m pretty sure nearly every trail in this park is up and most of them are hundreds and sometimes a thousand or more feet up.  But actually it’s great that the up is first since that means the end of your hike is down.







We are high enough up to look out and see the city of Estes Park.  Not my favorite view.



But this is almost my favorite rock on the trail and not because of the view.








Our views become rocks, interesting looking rocks, towering rocks, looming rocks.  Rocks standing vertically.  Rocks sliding down hill.









The trail runs right along and between these rocks.



And here is my very favorite rock of the day.   What does it look like to you??




On a few occasions we walk through aspens and hear their leaves tinkling in the nearly constant wind.   At another point, in honor of Nancy Mills David picks raspberries along the trail.  But he didn’t save them for you Nancy, he ate them.  Some friend huh?









But mostly it’s all about rocks.  This is ROCKY Mountain National Park and they aren’t kidding.


The trail – rocks.




And then this last rocky section leads us to the star attraction – Gem Lake.  And boy is it a gem.


I’m just going to let you look at this gorgeous little mountain lake and its beautiful reflections.  There really is nothing more to say except the rocky hike was well worth it.






While we were here, the light changed several times as you can see in the pictures above and particularly in these two.  The rocks lining the lake were gorgeous in sunshine and shadow.







But eventually we have to head back down.  We’ve eaten up all our snacks!



Rather than show you our trip down.  I’ll just show you some of the things we saw other than rocks while we were hiking in both directions.




Mushrooms were everywhere.  I haven’t even tried to identify them but I couldn’t help but love their sizes and shapes and colors.  If Pam of Nomadic Newfies is reading I know she can probably identify every single one of them and I hope she will so I’ll number them for her.




















We had to take time to smell the Ponderosa Pines.  Mmmmmm vanilla…mmmmm butterscotch.   And to show just how BIG and beautiful they are here in the park.



Even in death the lodgepole pines are lovely.



David did find a rock rain shelter ALMOST his size.  I think it was really more my size but he had to try it out.



It was a great rocky hike to a gorgeous lake.  Just another of the beauties of this park.  I just don’t think there is a bad or even disappointing hike anywhere here.


And one last thing we saw.   Have you ever seen this???



  1. Loving the photos from your hikes. I'm very envious! So cute to see you guys dress up!

  2. Gem Lake really IS a gem! I think it's the prettiest thing in the park so far.

  3. What a gorgeous, gorgeous hike! Love the rock "sofa" you found. And the photos of you both trying on costumes are very fun. Your delight shines through in your post. ;-)

  4. Great hike. Nope...never seen one of those...that sure is an odd lookin' pine cone!


  5. You are a natural in the green and gray. How fun to dress up as a Ranger. So many tell me they want my job. Don't suppose all those rocks is why it's called Rocky Mt. That one rock looks like a boot with a hole in the bottom. Probably from climbing over all those rocks. The lake certainly is a gem and perfect for reflections. #5 is puffballs, quite delicious when young. Glad I'm not the only one sniffing the pines. Yet another marvelous hike.

  6. Wow! That looks like granite. Somehow I thought the Colorado Rockies were all limestone and sediments...of course there is granite all over the Black HIlls so why not here...and of course the dress up thingy was a kick. Loved loved loved the rock sofa. Great day.

  7. Looks like a Douglas-fir cone to me. One of the major conifers out west once you get above the Ponderosa pine zone. and yes...the hyphen is required.

  8. What a glorious hike. I shall have to go sometime. There really is so much to see and do and sometimes we act as if we will have forever. I think of all the people who 'visit' te parks and whiz by hanging out the windows getting a picture as they drive by. I think they have no clue what is waiting for them to stop and take a look and drink all the wonder in. It is clear that doesn't apply to you too! Great day!!

  9. Just caught up on your last three days of hikes....all I can say is WOW. It is a lovely park...can't wait to get back to it, but I think the "Bear Lake" hike is about all we can handle with Marcia's GoGo.

  10. No, I sure haven't seen that thing in the last picture. Wonder what it is?

    I thought we had lots of rocks around here, but they aren't anywhere near as large as what you're finding. Beautiful area and great photos.

  11. Playing Dress-up...too funny;o)) Another wonderful hike. Each one is different and each one has been amazing!!! Thanks David for, at least, eating the raspberries for me. I can only imagine how good they must taste in the gorgeous location ;o)

  12. Dress up! How fun! You look good as a ranger. The girl was so cue! That rock looked like a foot of someone lying down with a hole through it. Love the views of Gem Lake and the Clark's Nutcracker is a pretty bird. So many types of mushrooms. I do enjoy smelling tree scents and hearing aspen leaves. Fun hike, amazing rocks.

  13. I see ranger written all over you...fits you perfect!!! The smell of pine...so luxurious!

  14. I was wondering how you played dress-up, how fun. Another great hike!

  15. Wearing rain gear is a smart way to stay warm without all the bulk. Tell David if only he had his climbing gear, he could scale the face of that massive rock wall he is standing by. . .LOL!

    You will be thankful for Estes Park when you need supplies. . .the Safeway there is great, with reasonable prices. . .Estes Park is a beautiful little town. . .we loved being there!

  16. Don't even think of replacing your parks passport! Put the pages in plastic sleeves or some other means of saving, but that baby is part of your legacy :-). Loved the dressing up - David is owning that hat!! You're killing me with the reflection photos - pure magic. I could lose myself in places like that. The rocks are like a giant's playground, building and stacking and rolling them down hills - the one looks like a flip-flop with the strap pulled out. I'm so glad you're in the area for another week :-))).

  17. That one rock looks like a boot lying on its back with gum stuck on the bottom! Another INCREDIBLE hike! Gosh I love giant boulders, and this trail had an abundance of them. Kind of reminded me of hiking in the Chiricahuas. And that lake...too pretty for words is right! Obviously this trail is going on our list for East Glacier!

    1. Woops...I mean RMNP! Getting your location and John & Pam's location mixed up because you are both doing some amazing hikes!

  18. You looked terrific in that ranger outfit! Is that a hint of a future career you have in mind? ;c)

  19. Watching you 2 play dress-up made me smile :) What a great day you had!
    We called off our paddle today due to rain, so I think we're going to head to the Traverse City Pie Co :) I'll email you a pie :)

  20. Gem Lake is a good name for it. Such a spectacular countryside to hike through.

  21. I sure would like to see more bronze animal exhibits and less of the reals things preserved.

    Your time of dress up and hikes must have been a total ball!

  22. Great picture of the nutcracker and what a beautiful hike. David looks pretty good in that hat. The cone is a douglass fir tree.

  23. I see you found Paul Bunyon's boot!! Amazing how I saw no other people in your photos as this has been the hike we've found to be most crowded. Perhaps because Lumpy Ridge is in an area of RMNP you can access without paying. But glad you were able to enjoy Gem Lake with some solitude! (Or maybe you were just masterful in getting the people out of your photo.)

  24. Great hike ... and all those reflections; but I think the dressing-up was the best part.

  25. You're onto me and how I can't resist the lure of research, I see! Found this site http://www.coloradomushrooms.com/ that might help you while you're in RMNP, but if you're trying to identify fungi remember to get a shot of the stalk, the cap and the underneath as they all help in identifying. My stab at guessing a couple would be 2- aspen bolete, 4 - Alcohol Inky (cute BTW), 5 - Pear Shaped Puffball

  26. PS, your pretty red spotted mushroom the other day was probably an Amanita, much like the orange one I saw up by Bayfield recently.

  27. Love the VC, and too cool that they have 'dress up' clothes. I must say you do have a 'native american' look about you in the deerskin outfit :)

  28. Can't believe I'm so far behind in reading blogs! … yeah, the plains states are really something … corn and wheat are beautiful waving and then like the southwest … more of the same … and hard to stay awake sometimes.

    I like the wagon tour! what fun. It's always heart stopping when the Native American's plight is acknowledge… the Trial of Tears…. what a crew we white people are.

    Nice picture of you and your Dad… aw and in jeans! lol … I think I like the HuHot! … great to meet your family … LOVE the parrot!

    so love Estes Park and the Rockies… sigh ~ love all your pictures ~ that Black Billed Magpie… aren't they gorgeous!

    At one place I stayed they had signs … Chipmunk Crossing… lol .. love it

    HAHAaaa … yeah, your dour face leaves a bit to be desired.. David looks downright dour… ha

    WOW… caught up and what adventures! love it ~ I recognize a lot from your pictures ~ great memories

  29. All the outfits are fun, but the one of David in the black hat made me laugh out loud. As for you, Sherry, you "wear" the mountains as well as you "wear" the beaches. :)

  30. It must have been fun dressing up, and I think I can see a ranger outfit on you in the future.
    Gorgeous, gorgeous pictures. Another great hike and for me I still am in a hunt for the red squirrel.
    Those mushroom are pretty cool and I have seen some of those in our one of our hikes in Shenandoah Park.

  31. Great rocks! The second picture after the one of you sitting on the rocks looks like Emerald City from Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. Cool psychedelic pine come! xxxooo


Your comments are the best part of this blog for me.
I LOVE hearing from you!