Friday, July 8, 2016

July 6, 2016 My Rocky Mountain High

"Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake
And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I've seen it raining fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
Rocky Mountain High"
from Rocky Mountain High by John Denver

My original plan for today was to hike out to Timberline Falls. That hike would take me past Alberta Falls and The Loch on the way to the falls. But a young lady who was hiking with her parents told me that Mills Lake is her favorite place because it is so beautiful. Then another conversation with a local hiker convinced me to change my plans. So here are my pictures from my hike out to The Loch and then to Mills Lake.

On my way into the park I stopped at a picnic area near Sprague Lake and ate my breakfast burrito while sitting along Glacier Creek. 

Since there was no parking spots available at the Glacier Gorge trailhead, I parked at Bear Lake and hiked down to here.

Glacier Creek on my way up to Alberta Falls.

A long shot of Alberta Falls 

A closer shot of Alberta Falls 

And my attempt at a long exposure shot of the falls.

Hiking up hill after the falls and heading to The Loch or Loch Vale. It seems to be called both names. 

Once again I am hiking at 9,000 to 10,000 feet and the views are amazing.

I decided to hike up to Loch Vale first then hike to Mills Lake on my way back.

Each day I've gotten a little better at dealing with hiking up the mountains. I still stopped whenever I needed to catch my breath but those rest stops were further apart each day.

There is water running down the mountains all over this park.

The trails are well maintained and the ones I have hiked have a lot of traffic. A big thanks to the NPS employees for all their dedication and hard work.

Snow along the trail to Loch Vale.

You get a hint of the view here at the sign for The Loch...

...then it comes into full view.

Oh look what I found on the ground...

...I hiked along the trail around the lake and found a comfortable rock along the shore... rest and enjoy some tasty Rainier cherries.

This is why I love being in these beautiful places. Everyone comes here for a different reason. I hike and take photographs, some people fish, some people camp in the wilderness, some camp in RV's, some love the flowers, some love the animals and some are here to rock climb. Since I am hiking alone and stop a lot, I have talked to a lot of people. Sometimes it's just a friendly greeting, sometimes a longer conversation. Regardless of our many differences, we all have a love of being here in common. So every encounter brings a smile to my face. They may be strangers but they give me hope that I am not alone in my views of how the people of the world should treat each other. I guess I am saying that if everyone went hiking, the world would be a better place.  

So I headed back down the trail toward the split for the Mills Lake trail. 

I wasn't the only person who stopped to photograph this amazing tree. This twisted tree is growing on an exposed rock where the wind blows down the mountain and through the valley below it. Mother Nature constantly amazes me with her determination to thrive under harsh conditions. This is the most beautiful tree I've seen in this park.

Glacier Creek just below Mills Lake. As I headed up the trail, the young lady who first told me about Mills Lake recognized me as she headed down the trail with her parents. I told her that the passionate way she talked about Mills Lake convince me to change my plans and I thanked her. She seemed so happy to see me heading up to the lake. 

My initial view of Mills Lake...

...the log jam where the water flows down the mountain.

I walked around Mills Lake until I found a spot to eat my lunch on the shore.

Relaxing on a rock right on the water's edge with the sun shining down on me and a cool breeze blowing down the mountain...I could stay here forever. 

As I sat here giant white clouds began to float across the sky...

...and I just kept taking pictures.

Eventually I forced myself to start hiking back. But I couldn't stop taking pictures of this beautiful place. 

I walked back down with a smile on my face because a chance encounter on the trail brought me to this beautiful place. Now I was really glad I got a chance to thank that young lady for convincing me to come here.

You might remember from earlier in this blog that I had to park at Bear Lake and hike down to Glacier Gorge. So what am I doing at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead? I am waiting for the shuttle bus to take me back up to Bear Lake. Damn it, I am a flatlander who is old and out of shape and I've been hiking in the mountains for the past four days. That said, I felt shame as I stepped onto the bus. But my body was screaming thank you.

This one is for Christy. We will have to come back here together real soon.

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