Summer Vacation 2020 – The “Are We There Yet Chronicles?”

I’m a person who wants to do all the things and I often drag my family along for the ride.

I’ve learned that sometimes when we’ve done a lot of things in a single day, we need a day after to only do some things.

That was our second full day in Estes Park.

Rocky Mountain National Park is huge and a person could spend a week in the park to explore and still not do everything. We had already accomplished a fairly decent hike the day before and my family needed a little recovery time. With all the mountain driving behind us and still ahead of us, I wasn’t going to insist on driving up over Trail Ridge Road, no matter how beautiful it might be, and I could wait for the last site that I wanted to explore until after 5 PM, when we wouldn’t be required to have a timed permit to get in.

So while I walked up and down the hill to the campground office to do four loads of laundry (a perk of camping at a private campground but not a perk we need very often), our daughter completed painting crafts with Kristen and Jeff took our son fishing, one of their favorite camping activities. (Kids under 16 can fish without a license in Colorado, so our son got to enjoy the satisfaction of catching a single fish while Jeff had to just sit and enjoy some quality father/son time.)

Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, everyone picked favorite activities to fill the time. When we were finally close enough to 5:00 to be certain we wouldn’t need the permit to get into the park, we packed up water and snacks, grabbed some warmer gear for the changing temperatures, and then headed back up the road to Rocky Mountain National Park so that we could hike to Alberta Falls.

When we hiked the Nymph Lake/Dream Lake/Emerald Lake route, Alberta Falls was another option from the Bear Lake trailhead. It was only a mile from Bear Lake, but the closer trailhead is supposed to be at Glacier Gorge. We passed it in the shuttle the day before but by the time we traveled past it on the way back to our truck, the whole family was beat. I was going to have to convince my family to wait one more day before we attempted that last hike in the park.

I was convinced that it was 0.5 miles one way. Wrong. It was 0.8 miles one way and we were approaching dinner time. Even though we made sure everyone had snacks before we left, we were still treading in dangerous parenting waters.

Our son, who likes the results of hikes but depending on when we hit him in the daily hunger cycle doesn’t like the activity itself, started complaining when we made the realization that it was 0.6 miles from the trail split, not the initial trailhead. But eventually we got him going again with a small dose of M&Ms, provided by my brilliant sister-in-law.

Like a lot of mountain hikes, there is plenty of climbing to get to Alberta Falls, but once we got there, I was so glad that I convinced my family to take this one last hike. The waterfall is gorgeous and the climb to the top of the waterfall was scary but worth the view.

The temperatures started dropping as we headed back, the wind picking up to blow in another summer mountain storm. We were glad that we were done for the day and just hoping we would be able to have one last campfire at our campsite.

And that was it for the Rocky Mountains for our family. We were going to be gradually leaving the mountains to head south to the canyons of Colorado, but the beauty and the memories of our time answering the call of the mountains would not be quickly forgotten.

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