Travel Destination: Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
I wasn't going to one location during this trip. Alberta Falls was nice, but on the way there I saw signs pointing the way to a location called Bear Lake. There were two options of traveling there: hiking or driving. Since my legs were more sore than ever, it became pretty obvious which of those options I would take.
I followed the winding roads that were etched along the sides of the mountains, staring at endless miles of trees that blanket the landscape in a glorious display. I opened the windows a little to get that fresh mountain air into my weakened lungs with a feeling of rejuvenation. Back in my hometown the air was nowhere near as clean and pure. It was very much refreshing and very glad that such areas exist without corporations tearing it all down for temporary profit. You can already tell my opinions on similar subjects, yet carry around items such as a smartphone that drives this kind of activity in the first place. Such irony...
I finally arrived at an extremely crowded parking lot, full of cars circling around for who knows how long to grab a parking spot. Due to the landscape it wasn't as if they could really expand it and I wouldn't want this beauty torn down just for that. That is the reason the bus system exists after all and for a few moments I wondered if I should have taken such an option. Would have been easier for me. I was lucky enough to grab a parking spot however and walked towards a large welcome center with large paths that went deep into the forest straight ahead.
The dirt path forked into different directions, most of them were clear dead ends. Two remained that extended through the forest that covered what was a small valley in-between mountains. A large map of the area was showing that either path surrounded Bear Lake, with one extra path that lead up to the summit of Flattop Mountain. Was pretty certain I saw the distant mountain when I arrived at the shoreline.
Many tourists lined the lake itself and started taking photos, a few groups even approaching me to help take group photos with their phones. Felt a little like a tight and friendly community despite all of us being from different parts of the world. After all, in the end we are all human being. We are all conscious beings on this small speck of dirt in an infinite space with no beginning, end or center point.
I could also see from my spot other people right across the expansive lake as they walked along tiny little peninsulas made of large boulders. I already knew what I wanted to do next after taking a few shots.
I walked back along the path as much as I could with my aching legs towards one of the small rocky peninsulas. It didn't come as easy however since there was still snow that covered some paths. Some of which was melting and made the hiking trail rather muddy. I managed to avoid most of it by hopping around off the path. Sometimes within the snow itself and sometimes just off the path on a fallen log. It was like another mini adventure for me that took me back to my early years of exploring a path of woods near my neighborhood.
The good times only last for so long, as it was time for me to leave the park. My legs were on the verge of collapsing from that day one mountain hike. Never would have thought it would take such a toll on me for so long. Only showed I needed to be in better fitness. The trip out of the park wasn't without an event, as I remembered a spot on the way there that I wanted to photograph. A wonderful landscape shot that showed what made me love Colorado in the first place. What made me love national parks and just nature in general.
These kind of trips have healed me in ways I could not even imagine, both physically and mentally. Even spiritually. I couldn't imagine going anywhere else in my life. Amusement parks just didn't have that spark like it used to when I was a fanatic with roller coasters. Reconnecting with this world and disconnecting from the typical noise in all of our lives works wonders. This was one trip I will never forget and will always be thankful for.
Want to find more wonderful National Parks?
Have a look at other locations I have visited to help you decide on where you would love to travel towards, whether it be hiking up a massive 14er mountain such as Mount Bierstadt in the West or for visiting one of the most popular national parks in the United States in the Great Smoky Mountains in the East.