Hiking in the Rockies - My Family Travels
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As I stared out the window at 4:00a.m., anticipation was growing.  All I could think about was the beautiful mountains of Colorado that I had ogled over the summer before during a field biology class.  The beautiful nature had overwhelmed and inspired me.  It changed both my life and my planned college major.   Before, I had planned on being a veterinarian, but afterwards, I realized Wildlife Biology was my passion.  I didn’t want to be stuck inside my whole life.  As I was pondering this, headlights appeared out of the black night.  At last!  I immediately grabbed my stuff, and we were off.  As we drove through Western Kansas, I couldn’t stop looking out the window.  The book I was reading was tossed aside as I stared at the beautiful landscape all around. 

Before I knew it we had entered Colorado.  When I could see mountains in the distance, a burst of excited giggles escaped me.  My uncle gave me a questioning look, but as he saw the mountains, a look of excitement came upon his face.  When we arrived at the KOA “kamping kabins”, we piled our belongings in the tiny one room cabin.  I got out my prepared maps and we drove to the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead and started our first adventure.  After 2.6 miles, we arrived at Gem lake.  It was beautiful, and we stayed for awhile, taking pictures and relaxing by the clear water.  That was one thing that amazed me about the Colorado wilderness.  All of the water was crystal clear and glittered in the sunlight.  Back in Kansas, I was used to murky, muddy ponds.  On every hike we took, I identified wildflowers I had learned about the summer before.  I took pictures of every species I saw and looked up the ones I wasn’t familiar with in a field guide.  I hiked at least ten miles most days, saw numerous lakes and waterfalls, and took tons of pictures.   If we weren’t too tired after hiking, we would spend the evening in Estes Park.  There we would enjoy shopping and eating at unique restaurants and ice cream shops.  On the hike to Black Lake, we climbed through a steep snowfield.  I had to stay on all fours most of the way to avoid falling.  At the top was the most gorgeous lake I had ever seen.  A backdrop of snow-capped peaks completed the picturesque view. 

Another highlight was the day we traveled to the alpine tundra.  Early in the morning, we took Old Fall River Road up hundreds of feet in elevation. On the way, we saw elk, deer, and mountain sheep. The sheep were licking the gravel on the road. We learned from a ranger that they do this to get the calcium that is powdered on the rocks to reduce dust from rising on the gravel road.  At the top, we saw marmots, pika, and an array of amazing plants.  The extreme wind and temperatures cause the plants to survive as miniatures of their lower-elevation relatives.  Some species only have the energy to add one flower a year, and they had over a hundred, meaning they had lived over a century!  On the last day we were there, we saw a black bear.  I had never seen a bear before, and it was an amazing experience to see it running freely through the trees.  The trip was remarkable, and it included some of the best days of my life.  The natural beauty of nature overwhelms me, and Rocky Mountain National Park is a wonderful example of it.

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