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Over night, winds really howled and we even got some light rain. I thought I would awake to find all of our camp furniture strewn about. Surprisingly, everything was as we left it the night before. Repeating my morning ritual, I started boiling water early for Mom's and Brandon's coffee and my Chai. While I was boiling water, Brandon (aka FireMan), started a fire to keep everyone warm. The temperature was about 50 degrees in the morning with a slight windchill, probably in the mid-40s.
Breakfast this morning, Spanish-style eggs, sausage, bacon, and flour tortillas to make wraps. Since everyone really needed a shower, we decided to head out to Estes Park to the Laundromat / Showers. This has to be the first time I've ever paid for a shower directly. Yeah, I pay the water and gas bill every month, but you don't think about shelling out $5.00 per shower doing it that way. $5.00 per shower ($4.00 for the kids) sounded like a great deal at this point though. Also, after washing hands and faces in cold water for the past 2.5 days, the hot water was icing on the cake. I highly recommend this place. I don't know the name, but everyone in camp knows where it is, right next to the Estes Park Safeway.
After we all got cleaned up, we decided to site see a bit in Estes Park. We walked around downtown and looked at all the tourist shops. We saw all the funny t-shirts, mugs, hats, and anything else you could slap a mountain, logo, moose, deer, elk or anything else related to RMNP on it. We actually walked out of all the stores empty handed and with all of our money still in our pockets. We did however spring for some chips and hot sauce from a local restaurant to take back to camp to have with lunch.
Back at camp, we prepared lunch for everyone. Lunch today was ham and cheese sandwiches, carrots, chips and hot sauce, oranges and apples.
Shortly after lunch, it was time for hike #2. The plan for this hike was extremely aggressive. A 5 mile round trip, out-and-back hike from Moraine Park to Cub Lake via the Cub Lake trailhead. This starts off fairly flat and crosses the Moraine Park Meadow. Here there is a ton of wildlife. We immediately came upon a heard of Elk. We were probably 50 yards from them, if not closer.
I quickly realized that it was going to be a challenge to get everyone up to Cub Lake, mostly the little guys. I resorted to bribery. I had knowledge that they sold Ice Cream every night in the campground at the place where we bought our campfire wood every night. I had held this a close secret until now. I offered ice cream to everyone if we worked as a team and got up to the lake and back down. That quickly lifted everyone's spirits.
Since it was my idea to really make the push to get up to Cub Lake, I literally took it on my shoulders to make sure we made it. I alternated carrying each of the boys for about 1.5 miles of the trip up.
We actually made pretty good time. I think we made it up to Cub Lake in 1.5 hours. Not bad! Everyone was in pretty good spirits as well. And well they should be. Cub Lake was beautiful. Probably not as nice as Dream Lake the day before, but definitely a sight to see. We found a nice spot and set out our snacks. We had a little summer sausage, cheese, apples, oranges and trail mix along with Goldfish crackers.
We hung around the lake for about 30-45 minutes and took a few pictures. I really enjoyed experiencing all this with the whole family, especially my wife. I would love to be able to experience this with her and the kids more often. I really enjoy seeing her beauty surrounded by the beauty of this environment.
I really wanted to make it back down by 5pm to avoid any sort of thunderstorms or rain showers. The team did great. We made it down right at 5pm. And, like clockwork, the rain came. Fortunately, there was no lightning. We hopped in the truck and started heading back to camp. We saw a lone coyote running through the meadow. It was too far off to catch a picture, but was probably the largest coyote I've ever seen. We also got to see some yellow-bellied Marmot with her babies.
It was a short drive back to camp and Dad paid up on the ice cream deal. We hung around the middle of the campground as rumor had it that a herd of deer would roam through around 6pm every night. We waited until about 6:15pm and everyone was tired and getting hungry, so we went back to the campsite to start dinner.
About halfway through cooking dinner, an ominous storm appeared to be moving in. The winds picked up, the temperature dropped and the rain started. Everyone climbed into the truck and we had dinner indoors. Dinner was great. We had grilled chicken and hot dogs, baked beans and corn. The weather kind of put a dampner on the whole evening. As soon as it got dark, everyone climbed into their tents. Linda and I stayed up for a while to look at the stars one last night and finish off the Jacob's Creek. After Linda turned in, I stayed up for a while longer to clean up camp, write my journal entries, stare at the dark sky and think of the next adventure.
The next morning, while sad to be leaving, was a great morning. It is amazing how everyone does their share and truly works as a team. Linda and I cook breakfast, Brandon takes care of the fire (which keeps my little Princess warm) and the little guys play away. We ran out of fuel early on attempting to boil water. I then resorted to boiling it over the campfire. Brandon took it upon himself to cook the remaining bacon we had over the fire as well. He kept us well fed on Bacon throughout the morning. As we started to run out of firewood, he would scamper about, collecting small twigs and sticks, enough to keep the fire going and the bacon cooking until it was all gone. Throughout this, Linda and I packed everything up and loaded the truck.
Check out was noon, but we wanted to stop in Boulder for lunch, so we were on the road by 11am or so. It was sad to leave, but I think everyone had a great time. I know Linda and I did and we look forward to more adventures with the family. We also are looking forward to our trip, just the two of us, to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park later this summer for a 3-day backpacking trip.
I have included a number of pictures in this series of blog entries, but you can view all the pictures from the entire trip at http://picasaweb.google.com/ChrisATyler/2009SummerTripToRMNP#. I hope these entries inspire some of you to take a trip to this area. Colorado Springs and RMNP are two great places to take the family. If possible, spend a week or two up there. There's more than enough to keep you busy and the scenery and weather are hard to beat.