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

Henry David Thoreau

Sadly, our last day in Rocky Mountain National Park

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.  Smile





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.



  1. What a lovely hike to finish your stay at RMNP! Love the deer keeping you company as you pack up!

  2. Oh, wow, the beauty, but that first shot - incredible!! And, I love the shadow of the two of you!

  3. What grand memories to have of the park. I suspect with animals like deer or elk, they keep their eye on you and decide if you're the sort of person who makes a lot of noise or not. If not, you're okay in their books.

  4. That trail was closed for a long time after the flood last year, so no surprise at the flooded out area. This was a favorite of ours but all our pics at and above the falls were in the snow! Can't wait to see what you've done at the Colorado National Monument!

  5. You certainly had a wonderful final hike...know you wish you could stay longer;o) But there are more places to be discovered!! That was a wonderful farewell from the deer...very cool:o))

  6. What a pretty area... HUGE rocks, and all that debris at the waterfall, it must have been a really WILD Winter up there, huh? All those wild flowers were lovely. What a great time you both have had!!

  7. That was a beautiful hike! I've noticed that the few streams & falls I've seen this year are littered with fallen trees and logs. Wonder if that's just the natural state of things. Of all the animals in nature, I think the deer causes everyone to stop and marvel at them. Maybe because they seem so gentle and non-threatening, or maybe it's because of their eyes, but I've never seen anyone just pass them by, as they might a squirred or a rabbit. Seeing the pictures of your deer on this hike makes me smile.

  8. You never leave a rock unturned :) Glad you got such a, sweet send off too!

  9. loved the duck peering over the falls. . .and always love your lunch spots!

    Great post as always. . .

  10. Wow! That shot taking off in the morning is stupendous. And all that wood tossed about from flooding like someone moved the furniture. What an amazing last hike, for this trip, at RMNP! So makes me want to go back there.

  11. A lot of your hike looks exactly like ours today! Our lake was at the top of a steep mountain, though. That is some major flooding damage. I've never seen that much river sand spread like that. Love that photo of the mallards all upside down at the same time...so cute! Don't you just love how tame the mule deer are! We saw several on one of hikes right next to the trail and they never bothered to stop eating except for an occasional look up. Sure looks like a lot of great memories made in the Rockies!

  12. Haven't been there since 1980, but it is truly a magnificent venue. Your first photo is a real stunner! When I was in that area, a fire was burning in Roosevelt National Forest, and the sunsets were unbelievable. Sad because of the reason, though.

    Virtual hugs,


  13. Lots to comment on but I guess I'll stick to the lichens. Found a link to a list of those found in the park, only 200! http://www.nps.gov/romo/naturescience/looking_for_lichens.htm
    Looks like a fantastic hike, we'll get there some day.

  14. Awesome again. You've shown us a lot of the park we didn't get to see. Safe travels to your next destination.

  15. Another beautiful day in RMNP! Boulders, river crossings, waterfalls, and wildflowers -- all of the elements of a great hike!

  16. Another magnificent scenery on another day of another great hike! Those boulders really are huge and you looked like a dwarf standing next to them. CO is still a year away but I'll be looking back at your adventures here to check on all your great hikes .

  17. Thanks for the taking us along on the great hike I will never do. My hiking abilities have passed years ago. Your pictures are fantastic. Looking forward to you next destination.

  18. I'm also sad that you are leaving this wonderful place. Each hike looked great. Love the duck butt shot!

  19. Flowers, falls, mountains, lakes, debris, ducks and deer-great trail! Oh, and horses! Nice way to end your time there :)

  20. Horses do tear up a trail. If you notice, the trails that horses are allowed on are always rockier or have more roots exposed.
    Looking forward to getting out there. Realtor was at our house today with a punch list. It's getting closer. Yay!

  21. I'm surprised there were no rock hugs. The rocks must be jealous of all the trees you've hugged! ;c)

  22. Rocks bigger than you - not so rare, but a flower taller than David - that's a big deal!! Love the butts-up-bathers enjoying their girls' day out :-). Of course you kept going around the lake...... With the trail being so rocky it would be hard for me to see what's around the trail for fear of tripping if I'm not looking down :-(. Seems the deer have been giving you a nice send off at several locations this summer. Deer medicine is Gentleness - perhaps they are acknowledging how you and David treat their homes. I appreciate it as well.

  23. I love the "bottoms up" picture! Love all the pictures, actually. I was on horseback in Colorado. We went off the trail and down a hill and my horse did trip. I almost went over his head, but he got himself together and I thanked my lucky stars for his mane and the horn on the saddle. We had a great time--a young kid took us out and thought we'd enjoy being off trail. He was the nicest kid. He told us his family lives in Hawaii during the winter and summers in the San Juans in Colorado. Before that, they did the opposite. The wintered in Colorado and summered in Hawaii. What a life, huh?

  24. The Fern Lake Trail really did have it all, or at least plenty of wonders to enjoy for one day. Beautiful hike did not disappoint, a real blessing on a lovely morning. Love your bottoms up gang - they are such a hoot and seem to have wonderful time just doing their thing. What a hoot.

  25. I'm finally getting caught up on my blog reading, what a great time you had in RMNP. I first visited in '76 camping with my folks and took one of those horseback rides, for me it was the highlight of our vacation. We get back to RMNP once in awhile when we visit family in CO.


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