Today Michal and I reached 12,183 feet in elevation. We were eye to eye with a few majestic peaks and towering over others. We went so high that we reached the tundra. It’s so cold there that trees do not grow and plants are only in bloom for 6 to 12 weeks every year. There are even large snow banks at the end of June and summer snow storms are not unheard of.
The sights today were quite spectacular. We were even lucky enough to see elk grazing on the rocks. The best part of this is adventure is that I competed it in flip flops, did not break a sweat, and felt quite rested when we came back to Estes Park. My kind of “hiking”. All of these views were along Trail Ridge Road which is the highest longest paved road in America. There were places to pull over and enjoy the views scattered along the road. I actually preferred driving because from the passenger’s side, there is no shoulder. All you see is a several thousand foot drop off the side of a mountain.
We took a break for lunch at the Alpine Visitor’s Center. As we were eating we both noticed that we were feeling a little light headed and that breathing was becoming more difficult. Altitude sickness. Luckily it went away as we descended and rehydrated. The views were worth the altitude sickness symptoms as this was the most beautiful drive I have ever been on.
When we returned to Estes Park we drove by a ranch before tasting local beers at the Estes Park Brewery, riding go-karts and then relaxing in the hot tub. Tomorrow it’s back to the mountains and the kind of hiking that actually takes a little bit of effort.
I am ending my blog post tonight on a personal and sentimental note. My sweet Grams passed away earlier this month. She was my best friend, my biggest fan and she absolutely loved reading my blog and looking at all the pictures from my trips. There is a constant ache in my heart and I miss her more than I ever imagined could be possible. I firmly believe that now, instead of just reading my blog, she is traveling right along side me and taking in all of this beauty. In honor of Grams, I dedicate my blog to her. I love you, Grams. This is all for you. In loving memory of Paulette Marie Côté; February 12, 1937 – June 3, 2013 <3