Today, we took our longest hike of the trip – a 10 mile loop from Bear Lake past Alberta Falls to the Loch Valley, past Lake Haiwaya and back down to Bear Lake at the end. Bear Lake is at 9,475 feet elevation and the Loch adds another 990 feet – it was rough walking in places – a lot of up and not much down until the last couple of miles. This was the hike our friends from Ohio had strongly recommended to us though, so we were intent on completing it.

This was the most peaceful of the hikes we have done so far – the length and elevation put most people off. In the forests, we could hear nothing but birdsong most of the way. not even the elk bugles could be heard – they tend to stay at the lower elevations.  Alberta Falls were worth the climb – much more impressive than Fern Falls yesterday. 

The aspen trees on this walk are really stunning, especially at this time of year.  

Still shots don’t completely capture their beauty – they are called quivering aspens for a reason and video captures this perfectly. 
The Loch looked stunning, with the glacier in the mountain beyond it. A really peaceful place. 

There were several blue jays up here – funny how excited I got to see the first one yesterday – now they were becoming almost commonplace. One actually posed for long enough to for me to get a video shot this time. 

The last portion of the hike to Lake Haiwaya was a little challenging – the trail disappeared into a sea of boulders, so we had to clamber over these to get to our destination view. There was a false start – we thought the brown patch of water was The Lake for a moment – but Tim clambered over more boulders and beckoned me on to the end of the trail. We were rewarded with a view of a fine, clear lake, with the sun sparkling on the water and the mountains beyond it. 

We descended the rest of the trail back to Bear Lake, passing fine views all along the way. This made this so much more rewarding than the Cub Lake Trail we did yesterday. 

As we neared Bear Lake, the number of people increased and the selfie sticks came out – some taking their picture on the “Restoration Area – Please Keep Out” sign ??? OMG ??? I resolved to try to stay fit enough to hike to far flung places, where wilderness and nature is respected and the majority of people don’t manage to reach. 10 miles may well prove not to be enough, reliably, which means some hard work ahead, a I think. 

We returned to Estes Park via the Moraine Elk Viewing Area. There are a number of roads where the elk can be easily seen from the road and pull outs specially designed to help the visitor to do this. Some people – noticeably those with Colorado plates, so locals, seemed set to make an entire evening of it, bringing fold out picnic chairs, thermos flasks and sandwiches with them. We parked up for a while to see what we could see. We could see a herd of elk in the distance and a pair of striking antlers among them, so this looked like a good place to wait a while. For half an hour, we sat and watched those antlers do nothing more than dip up and down a bit as the bull elk munched on the meadow for his evening meal. I would have loved to capture the sound of a bugling elk on video, but it is so hard to do. There is no warning when it will happen and holding the camera in focus on long range zoom for any length of time is tiring. I could se why keen photographers end up with all their gear – tripods and spotting scopes etc. – I’m not that dedicated, I’m afraid. We decided to give it another quarter of an hour. 

At this point, I was quite glad that the elk tour we had tried to book for tonight was full up. The tour bus was parked just down the road from us and we would have had just the same view – so that was $80 well saved I think!

I was reminded today of a quote I once read about the benefit of taking a long walk: Jon Muir wrote: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away like autumn leaves. As age comes along, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail.” This was certainly true of today’s lovely walk.

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