It was 1987, and my husband and I were excited to go on our first trip together to Colorado. I’d been in love with the Rocky Mountains since I was a little girl. My parents had visited there before I was born, and I would often gaze at the pictures and postcards from their trip way back in the 1950s. Of course, by the time they took my sister and me there in the late 1970s, although some things were the same, a lot had changed.
So my husband and I set out on our road trip. We settled into our motel in Estes Park and planned our adventure. The first full day there, we headed up Fall River Road, a trek that is only possible between July and October because the road stays covered in snow and ice for most of the year. We were so excited to be in the mountains, taking in the scenery, that we stopped at every pullout along the way.
That’s how we found the Chapin Creek Trail. We were thrilled to discover we could actually walk into the wilderness to see things we couldn’t see from the road. Our parents had never done such things when we were growing up, so we had little to no knowledge of such adventures. Both sets of parents were make-good-time sort of travelers. They weren’t dawdlers. So the idea of getting out of the car and diving deeper into the woods was a brand new concept for us.
We started out and soon realized we were not prepared to venture into the woods. The wrong shoes. No water. We had no idea how long it would take to hike that particular trail. We were rookies. So we turned around and went back to the car with sad hearts.
When we finally made it all the way up Fall River Road to the summit of Fall River Pass, we found the Alpine Visitor Center; and to our delight, we discovered trail maps existed for the entire park. So when we drove back into Estes Park, we bought provisions (water and trail food) for our first hike. It was getting late in the afternoon by then, so we couldn’t do any trail that was very long. We chose a short hike to Alberta Falls in the Bear Lake area of the park for our first hiking experience.
The view from the top of the falls was gorgeous. We truly felt like we were on top of the world and closer to heaven. The view seemed sharper. The air smelled fresher. Our bodies experienced the feel-good tingle of exercise. We felt connected to ourselves, to nature, to our Creator. This was when we realized we couldn’t truly see and experience the wonders of the mountains in the seat of a car. There was a whole other world off the road and down a path.
We were hooked. The next day we got to Bear Lake earlier and hiked all the way to Emerald Lake. Now, we plan trips around the possibility of day hiking. I’ve included some pictures taken during the numerous hikes we’ve done. I hope these photos will inspire you to get out of the car and discover the beauty and adventure that exists only a few miles from the road.