Monday, October 13, 2014

Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking and horseback riding

This past weekend Scott and I were able to have a have a night away up in the Rocky Mountains! It was kinda a last minute decision. The previous week a dear friend of ours, who is also like a grandparent to our kids here since both sets live out-of-state, offered to stay with the kids for a night so that Scott and I could have a long date night :). In the eleven years of our marriage, I think we had stayed 4 nights away from the kids total. But we're getting into a different stage in life, we still have young kids but we no longer have nursing babies or a pregnant mommy so we're thinking we'll try and do a night away at least once a year now and since Patricia Murphy offered and we knew the kids would be in good hands, we took her up on it! THANK YOU Patricia!!!

Friday afternoon I picked up Patricia(she doesn't drive) and we ran to Walmart to grab a couple of things and then came home and made lunch for ourselves and Scott who came home shortly thereafter. I put Nora down for a nap and then Scott and I were off to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. I arranged for a neighbor to pick up the three oldest kids after school and bring them home.

As we drove into Estes Park and then also into Rocky Mountain National Park, we saw lots of Elk just sitting around in herds. One male and a whole lot of female elk :). They made noises like the Caribou in the animated Polar Express movie.
 Our first stop was in Rocky Mountain Park at the base of some hiking trails. We hiked past Dream Lake and onto Emerald Lake, which was a pretty easy hike and absolutely breathtakingly gorgeous! We plan to take the kids back to do this one some day in the near-ish future. From there we went back to where there was a fork in the trail and took another trail to Lake Haiyaha. This hike is given a moderate ranking, probably because it was a bit more steep and there were some big rocks/boulders to climb at the end in order to see the Lake. It was so beautiful and peaceful and quiet. We loved it. I'm glad we went when we did, in October, because in Colorado it's chilly but not too cold which I personally think is perfect for hiking, and there weren't lots of people around like there would be in the summer. We hiked a total of 5.5 miles in 2 hours...and we stopped a lot to take pictures and just admire God's beautiful creations. Here we are at the beginning of the trail.

I don't remember what this little lake was called. Maybe the "lake of shining waters" :). Can anyone name that book? Okay, I'll tell you.  It's from Anne of Green Gables.

 Here are a few pictures of Emerald Lake.
 Scott taking a panoramic with his phone camera. I sure love that man!! So blessed!

Pictures don't even come close to accurately portraying Emerald Lake's grandness and beauty.

This is Dream Lake. It was long and narrow and we saw quite a few fish.

We stopped here to take a picture of the view on our way up to Lake Haiyaha.

Lake Haiyaha, and once again, this picture does not do the lake justice. I need to work on my photography skills...maybe I should have done a panoramic view? But just think, gorgeous still waters in a perfect oval shape, surrounded by ginormous boulders with unique trees growing in between and all around. This spot, right there on that big boulder where Scott is standing, is the perfect place to give your loved one a kiss :)...but just a quick one if there's an audience; but we didn't have an audience :).

This tree was so cool. It was all twisted at it's wide trunk and then it branched out in several directions.

 Here it is again.

There were a couple of narrow bridges to cross to get there, which had a think layer of snow atop.
 This is Bear Lake; you really don't hike to this one at all. It's just right around the corner from the parking lot. Another beautiful creation.

After our hike we checked into our room, changed clothes and went out to dinner at Mama Rose's.
 I think we ate around 730 or 8...much later than when we normally eat but we wanted to get in as much hiking time during the daylight as possible. Scott had a spicy spaghetti with sausage and I had polenta (my first time!) with a creamed spinach, marinara sauce and sliced olives on top. It was so yummy!
 Here is our room. It wasn't at a hotel, more like a cabin but with lots of nice rooms. Our suite had a jacuzzi. It was so nice to sit in the jetted tub after hours of hiking.
After, we watched "Million Dollar Arm" while eating popcorn and a favorite treat (Aussie licorice for me and dark chocolate with nuts for Scott).

We brought breakfast along with us: homemade granola, plain greek yogurt and Naked juice. Our kinda breakfast.

 Fall River was right outside our back patio.

We packed up and headed out to the Sombrero Stables by 820am...we had to be there by 830 for our horseback ride on am ountain trail in Estes Park.
 I had a horse for a couple of years growing up so I was SUPER excited to get back on again! Unfortunately, they only allow you to walk the horse, no galloping or trotting. One day I will run on a horse again. Have I ever mentioned that my dad grew up on a farm in Mexico in the 1920's and 30's and his only mode of transportation was on a horse? Well it's true. He practically lived on the horse, and he's got the bowed legs to prove it :).
 Scott had been on a horse a couple of times before so this wasn't new, but I think he was probably happy to just walk :).
 We rode for an hour on the mountain with a group of 8, including the two who worked at the stables. It was wonderful and I'd definitely do it again.
 After our trail ride we stopped at Notchtop bakery and cafe and shared a cinnamon roll and a bowl of steel cut cinnamon and apple oatmeal and then headed back for home. Both girls had soccer games that afternoon that we needed to be back for. And both girls scored 2+ goals and won their games! Wahoo!

 Thank you, thank you Patricia for staying with the kids so Scott and I could have a longer date than usual, doing things we love to do(ie eat, be active and outdoors, snuggle up & watch a movie)!

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