Travel Destination: Alberta Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park
The calves were straining as I push myself forward through the mountainous terrain in my path. The knees ached as they try to stay functional, one footstep at a time while going up the wooden steps. The sun's rays beat me down with its intense summer heat with very little clouds in sight for relief except for the giant trees that covered the landscape like an endless blanket.
Who knew that a mountain climb previously would have my body so worn out?
The Rocky Mountain National Park is certainly one very famous landmark symbolizing that classic American wilderness that is romanticized about in tales and historic books. A place for future generations to come to seek relief from the city life and find a place to find inner peace, serenity and simply reconnect with nature and themselves. I was one of them.
As a travel photographer I wanted to record my trips on different destinations against all preconceptions on someone within the autistic spectrum. Never expected to take this trip solo, but I already knew and was willing to accept from the beginning that this kind of situation would inevitably happen. It simply happened sooner than expected.
What should have been expected was the huge line of cars trying to enter the famous national park. Must have taken around an hour or more for the line to shorten and finally pass through the gate after payment. Made a mental note to come much earlier next time I visit the park.
The long road into the park had numerous forks throughout that lead to a variety of popular landmarks. My main landmark for here and this blog was Alberta Falls. I only saw the name and decided then and there that this was where I was going to go. I didn't look at any photos of it, as I wanted to be surprised by the mystery of what I would find. It's part of the fun for me.
Eventually was able to find a parking spot in a rather cramp parking lot with a bus stop. It was one of many entrances that could lead not only to this location but many through quite a number of trails. I wanted to take the shorter route due to my legs still being very sore from that hike up Mount Bierstadt a few days beforehand. I never expected that trip to take quite the toll! I do not regret it though!
The trail felt like it went forever though, but a memorable one. Climbing stone steps, passing over a roaring creek that went downhill. Go one way and you would have to hop on over yet another creek without getting your shoes wet using the few stones that were in the creek bed.
Where did they all lead to? Probably the giant ravine that was further ahead! Full of bright orange and yellow rocks that lined the sides while the sounds of a raging river rang clear in my ears. Didn't look all the way down because...well ironically I am terrified of heights. Sounds strange coming from someone that days before just climbed a 14er mountain, but still get terrified. This is especially true when I am looking straight down.
The heat was still quite immense from the sun overhead as people passed by in droves. I kept hearing the roaring sound of water falling, first being very faint yet slowly got louder as I continued to march forward with my aching legs. Each time I kept wondering if it was just the river, but in the back of my mind the words explaining that this was different kept swarming. The sound grew louder as I followed the trail that snaked alongside the river until through the trees I could finally see it.
I arrived at my destination for today. Alberta Falls!
People stood by taking poses with their smartphones as I began to set up the tripod for a couple of shots. I like to take a couple with a fast and slow shutter speed. This is so that I get a couple of nice shots of water that look almost frozen in time and some shots of it looking like a seamless flow full of beauty, respectively. I will include some comparison shots below for you to see the difference changing the shutter speed of your camera can make, depending on what kind of shots you are aiming for.
A few people climbed further down to meet at the river, some also taking photos with their DSLR cameras of the waterfall. I followed suit. I wanted to take every advantage of this while I was still here.
After a couple of photos I decided to climb up towards the top of the falls to sit down and take in everything while doing a light meditation. The feeling of the small water droplets that met my skin being so near, cooling me off from the heat as I sat beneath a nearby tree as I face the waterfall. The chilly air that emanated from the Falls felt like they went through to my bones and very being as I felt very light in my mind. A sense of tranquility if you will.
Granted at the time it was a little bit difficult with the meditation due to being near a crowd, but I was able to focus on the pleasure of simply being and happy I was able to come here in the first place.
So many seem to limit themselves to a few places in their entire lifetimes from my perspective, when it feels more advantageous to spend more of your time traveling and expanding your horizons on different cultures. Seems to be that those that tend to be intolerant towards different cultures tend to limit themselves behind their safety walls in their own community while those that are more acceptable of differences tend to have traveled much more often. Simply one of many factors I have mentally noted while observing how people act and react to different things.
Never could understand why people always want unity with everyone being the same when it is diversity that is the spice of life and makes it so wonderful and interesting. A diversity of views and philosophies that can be expanded upon and have civil conversations instead of this childish dualistic "us versus them" mentality that seems to plague everyone these days, or at least that is what the media likes to portray.
Bit on the preachy side I admit, but this is one of many thoughts I ponder as I sit still and try to listen to the silence. The mind and ego absolutely hates silence after all. I could go on and on about the subject in a separate post all together, as I have found meditation very helpful after a while of practicing for my Asperger's Syndrome.
After a while I decided to head back to the parking lot while occasionally taking more shots of locations I marked in my mind to revisit on the way back. Nature has unlimited ways of presenting how diverse and awe-inspiring it all is. It is why I am happy we have national parks to preserve such areas for future generations to discover and reconnect. Each location has its own pleasures that are unique to every individual. Mine is with nature.
A national park such as Rocky Mountain National Park should be on everyone's bucket list within their lifetime, even if it is visiting only once. I have barely scratched the service of miles upon miles of this natural wonder and cannot wait to come back multiple times to discover more of this place among others!
Want to discover more National Parks?
View my previous trips to climbing one of many 14er mountains in the area plus one of the most popular national parks in the United States: The Great Smoky Mountains!