"Now he walks in quiet solitude, the forest and the streams, seeking grace in every step he takes.
His sight is turned inside himself, to try and understand
the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake."
Rocky Mountain High lyrics by John Denver
(It's not often I'll quote John Deutshendorf, Jr)
At 101 years young RMNP is still a precious gem amongst our Nation's Parks.
Unfortunately, being beautiful has its price. It's the third most visited NP in the U.S. Last year a whopping 4.16 million trod upon its roads and trails. That would be similar to having the entire state of Oregon's population stopping by for a visit. (If that ever happened, I'd race to Oregon. Think of all the untrammeled recreational opportunities there would be.)
Yes, RMNP can get Grand Central Station crowded, but there are ways to avoid rubbing body parts with your fellow hikers. As a service to my billions of fans, I'll point the way.
One: Wake up early. I'm not talking about the "Today Show" early. I mean just a nub of gauzy light early. Kind of when sunrise is a distant rumor.
Two: Drink two pots of strong Starbuck's coffee washed down with a substantial breakfast.
Three: Start driving to the trailhead avoiding all the deer, elk and moose who are all in the midst of a quiet Animal Planet moment. Make sure you smile, wave and say good morning to the four-legged vegans as you ease by.
Fourth: Park your ride. There will be plenty of spaces to choose from.
Fifth: Do a little fussing and packing and start up the trail. The air will be as crisp and cool as that first swallow of a Union Jack IPA. (That will come later at Happy Hour.)
Sixth: Enjoy! You will be alone. Just you and your thoughts and the beauty that surrounds you. A good way to start the day. More than likely, you won't see anyone until you begin to head back down to civilization.
That's when you'll encounter the legions of the ill prepared.
As in this recent episode:
On my return from Timber Lake, I saw a portly mid-60's couple. They were decked out in the latest Walmart sneakers, cotton socks, jeans and black Harley Davidson shirts. Neither wore a pack.
After I said a friendly "Hello!" the gentleman asked me.
"How much further to the lake?" He was already panting.
"Well Sir, it's a ways and you haven't even begun the 2,000 feet of climbing. It might not be a good idea to try for the lake. You aren't carrying any food, water or extra dry clothes in case a storm rolls in."
"I'm carrying water!" With that said, he pulled out a plastic 8 ounce bottle of clear liquid for the two of them!
"Sir, in Colorado we call that amount of water a shot. People don't age in this state, they desiccate."
"Well, maybe we won't go the lake then."
At least this gentleman saw the light.
BTW: This couple were only a half a mile from the parking lot.
Riddle! How can you spot a Texan who is ill prepared? The same scenario as above except they are holstering a side arm attached to their belt. I suppose Fox Fear Network might have ran a story about man-eating marmots.
Personally, spotting an armed hiker in the wilds constitutes a clear and present danger to me. I leave the scene ASAP.
Jeff's Rule of Thumb states. The ill prepared hiker factor increases exponentially as the sun rises.
BTW. I wasn't paid to write that rant about being ill prepared by REI, although it would have been nice.
I'll shut up and let the Centennial Park plus one speak.
Please be safe out there,
There's still time to sign up!