We drove through Estes Park to Rocky Mountain National Park and stopped at Beaver Meadows Visitors Center. We talked with a ranger there about what to do and he was very helpful. Believe it or not he was a retired high school science teacher who taught in Southwestern City Schools in Columbus
! We decided not to go to the higher elevations today and not take any long hikes as there are afternoon storms pretty regularly this time of year. So we decided to hike around Sprague Lake a 1/2 mile level path and then decide what to do next. This lake is at 8700 feet. Sprague is a partially man-made lake where there used to be a private lodge run by the Spragues when the park first opened. It was a very shallow lake and there were several people wading and fishing in it. It was a quiet and peaceful walk. Halfway around we sat on a bench and ate our sandwiches and Pringles. We saw several birds on our way around the lake in addition to the ducks on the lake. One bird, the Red-naped Woodpecker, may be a life bird for us. While we were walking around the lake a dark cloud came over the mountain and soon there was lightening and thunder. When we got back to the car it started to sprinkle.
On the way back from Sprague Lake we saw a bunch of cars pulled off on a side road and then we saw a couple of elk. So we pulled in and parked and four elk came running across the field. They went further back the road and lots of people were following them at a safe distance. When we crossed the little stream and walked up the hill on the other side we saw a whole herd of elk on the other side. There were probably at least fifty of them. Most notable was an old bull elk with a huge rack of antlers and a very thick neck
. Some of the herd were lying down but soon most of the herd began moving further away. Eventually all of them moved across the road, the bull elk bringing up the rear. It is the beginning of the rut and as we walked back to the car we heard a bull bugle, and it does sound like a bugle.
We drove back toward Estes Park and headed south on Mary's Lake Road to Lily Lake. We got out our raincoats and decided to hike around the lake. This was a 1 1/2 mile hike and we took the higher route around one side. By the time we got to the top of the ridge it was more than sprinkling. We sat down on a bench at least 100 feet above the lake putting us at about 9000 feet. We walked down to lake level and the rest of the way around. We saw more birds at Lily Lake, some in the trees and more ducks on the lake. When we left Lily Lake we headed to Estes Park, found a Safeway Grocery Store and shopped for our three days. When Larry and Erin looked at the pitiful beer selection they decided to pass. Larry had seen a Liquor Store. But when we left Safeway we saw a Pharmacy that was also a liquor store. What a strange combination! They found two sampler packs of beer from Fort Collins Brewery and Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, CO. I got a bottle of Moscato wine.
Then we headed to our cottage which is on the top of a hill and built over a garage
. It is just right for us with one bedroom and a futon in living room for Erin. It has a great deck where we headed with our glasses of beer and wine. We relaxed out there for a while and discovered that there are a ton of birds in the trees and on the ground here. We have a great view of Longs Peak and the mountains from the deck. We decided to have bratwurst and spaetzle tonight. After supper I laid down for a bit because I have a headache, probably from the alititude. It is still over 7000 ft. here in Estes Park. Then we cleaned up the dishes. When I sat down to log onto the computer I got a Skype call from my friend Sr. Peg in Indiana. What a surprise! Then I looked at emails and wrote this blog. We are getting up early tomorrow to hike the Bear Lake Trail.
Today we got up at about 8:00 and were on the road by 9:00. We had breakfast at the Days Inn and stopped at the 7/11 to buy sandwiches for lunch. Then we headed toward Denver on Rt. 70 and then took 270 north to US 36 which is the same road that is 2 miles from our house. We went right by Oskar Blues Brewery in Denver. The route took us past lots of warehouses, a refinery, a power plant, and the waste management center. Not exactly scenic. But once we got north of Denver and headed a little more west we could see the mountains. We stopped at a scenic view of Boulder and then drove through Boulder and on to Estes Park following a stream up and up. We stopped at scenic view just before Estes Park.