Day 2 – 9/24/06

Day 2:

September 24, 2006

The alarm sounded around 5:15am. We were on our way up to Bear Lake shortly after 6:00am. The road winded this way and that with every turn showcasing another beautiful scene. As we rounded one bend the snow capped mountains rose to the sky. I pulled over to take some pictures. In the excitement I accidentally left my ISO on 1600 from the previous night and the pictures didn’t turn out too well. We continued on. As we rounded another corner there was a huge elk, with full rack, perched atop a large rock on the side of the road with the mountains behind him. It was as if he set up the perfect picture for me…but by this time sunrise was quickly approaching so we continued on. (Not to mention I was too scared to get out and take his picture!) The parking lot at Bear Lake had probably 7-10 vehicles in it. Not many at all. We prepared ourselves for the early morning chill and headed up to the lake.

Bear LakeAs we entered the forest we were immediately welcomed by the fresh smell of pine and the chatters of the welcoming committee; the squirrels. I couldn’t help but think we were entering into an ‘enchanted forest’. A short walk lead us to Bear Lake where we found the sun had already began to kiss the mountain tops. At least two other photographers had claimed their positions but there was still a nice spot left for me. I snapped away, catching my first ‘alpenglow’. I tried my 12-24mm again but still had the same problems…including the dreaded Error 99. Turning the camera off and then back on, and using manual mode, would get me a few good shots though. I had to continue that way the rest of the trip. Once the alpenglow show was over we took a nice easy stroll around the lake counter-clockwise.

Nymph LakeWe then took the 1/2 mile (225′ gain) hike up to Nymph Lake. The walking and incline wasn’t so easy on Mom’s knees so we took our time and stopped often. We passed just a handful of hikers on the way up. We did run across one photographer at the lake though. I found Nymph Lake to be even more beautiful than Bear Lake. It was covered in a blanket of lily pads and the reflections from the pine and Hallett’s Peak were stunning. I spent some time photographing the lake and then we headed back down to the car.

We decided to go back to the Sundeck for breakfast then did some shopping in town. By now the sun was out full force and the temperature had to be close to 70F. We didn’t even need coats. There was shop after touristy shop, but we had fun looking for little souveniors to bring back for friends. We found one place, “Lovin Colorado”, especially nice. They had some really cute things and the owners and their pooch were so nice. We spent some time chatting and bought a few things.

Once finished shopping we drove through Horseshoe Park, saw lots and lots of elk (and tourists!), and stopped at the Alluvial FanAlluvial Fan. Fall River Road was still closed from the storm so we headed up to TrailHorseshoe Park Ridge Road (TRR). Up, up, up we went. You don’t realize just how far up you’re going until you get to the lookout. Rainbow Curve was the end of the road for us as the rest of TRR was closed due to snow. The view was incredible, though. With few clouds in the sky and the sun as bright as could be, we had a clear view of the entire valley, the Alluvial Fan, as well as the winding road we had just traveled. It was truly an amazing sight.

Since we had skipped lunch, we went back to our motel to get ready for dinner. We asked Fran, at the Alpine Trail Ridge Inn, how to get to the Dunraven since I had heard so much about it. She was kind enough to offer to call in a reservation for us. We had a little time to spare so we drove down to the Warming House to find Mom a coat. She had decided that her coats and layering weren’t keeping the wind out and she wasn’t going to spend another morning freezing. Unfortunately, they were closed. The money all over the walls was an interesting touch. It must be the most expensive wallpaper ever! Mom had the Veal Parm and I went with the Lasagna. We both thought our meals were very good and the bill was moderate at $31.