Climbing the Rockies (part II)

Dangerous Snowfields
Melting Snowfields


While exploring the displays in Alpine Visitro Center, some other explorers entered telling park rangers that a Wolverine was spotted not that far away. I rushed outside in hopes of catching a glimpse of this rarely seen animal in RMNP without success. Not really knowing what a wolverine looks like I perused the displays until I spotted a photo of one. Listening to park rangers tell about wolverines was interesting and hearing their thoughts on why this one was wandering around proved fascinating. Their theory was this wolverine was looking for a mate and that if one was not found soon it would head further north out of Rocky Mountain National Park. While keeping an eye out in the area where the wolverine had recently been spotted we scanned the scenery where deep snow fields blended with areas of brown indicating where the snow had just retreated from a day or two earlier. Areas where the snow had melted several days before where already green as plants had begun there quick summer season with other plants not far away blooming. It was interesting to see this summer progression of the snow receding and giving way as life returned to the hillsides.

Alpine Ridge Trail
The top of Alpine Ridge Trail


We decided to grab something to eat at the cafeteria located near the Alpine Visitor Center before proceeding on with our adventure. After a few moments of rest and eating we headed off to climb the Alpine Ridge Trail which would end up being the highest elevation we would reach during our time in RMNP. This was a short trail with a lot of climbing requiring us to move slowly as the elevation provides less oxygen making breathing more difficult. Park recommendations are to reach your summit by early afternoon as lighting becomes more likely later in the day so we were in a little bit of a hurry in order to avoid being at the top of this trail during the mid and late afternoon. Another great view of the mountains which surrounded us! From here you can see where the Colorado River begins its journey towards the Grand Canyon along with so many other mountain peaks. Heading back down towards our vehicle we spotted several dark clouds heading our way but we managed to get to the top and back down without experiencing lightning first hand at the top of a mountain.

Lightning Warning
Lightning Warning


On to find the trail that takes a spot on our National Parks Edition Monopoly Board – Flattop Mountain Trail. This required driving over 30 miles to Bear Lake to reach the trailhead leading to our targeted destination. During this drive there was once again incredible scenery from all of the flowers blooming along the roadside to rapidly flowing rivers. I found several types of flowers I would like to add to my yard someday. It is a little more difficult to create all of the snow melting into rivers in my yard so I just need to enjoy the photos and memories for now. Once Bear Lake was reached we headed for the trails and began ascending towards our objective. This was a short 2 mile hike with the intention of staying below the tree line so as to avoid any possible threat of lightning. As we reached Flattop Trail we took a few moments to rest and take in the surrounding of stones, trees, and the occasional critter wandering in the forest. It was starting to get late in the day and we were tired after all of our hiking and exploring so the decision was made to descend back to the car and return to the lodge for food and a good nights sleep.

Flattop Mountain Trail
Flattop Mountain Trail

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