Having mastered this short hike on Tuesday, we went up to Odessa Lake the next day. Our leader, Sarah, was a 40ish dynamic woman who lived in Estes Park. Counting her, we were only five but we moved.
Actually, we didn’t move that fast – 8.5 miles took us six hours. That’s six hours of walking. First we had to set up a shuttle. We parked at Fern Lake and took two buses to get to Bear Lake, our starting point.
Rocky Mountain NP (RMNP) has a set of free buses that will allow you to create shuttles. So we hiked up 1,300 ft. and down 2,500 ft. Odessa Lake, where we had lunch, was the perfect glacial lake surrounded by conifers. Squirrels and chipmunks scurried around us, knowing that where there are people, there’s food but of course we didn’t feed them.
Fern Lake was smaller but just as lovely. It was the scene of Nevada Barr’s mystery in RMNP. We’ve been very lucky that it’s been a late, wet spring so there’s plenty of wildflowers, including the exquisite columbine.
It’s been a tiring vacation. We get up early because the hikes start early and end early to try to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
Today, we skipped the formal hike to go birding. We met a volunteer at 7 A.M. for a two-hour bird walk.
The volunteer was also an Elk Bugle Corp member in the Rockies. Here the EBC only works during the rutting season, Labor Day to the end of October. There are over 3,500 elk and they’re becoming pests. They rub their velvet against the aspen trees and are killing the trees in the process.
We also met the Bighorn Brigade, the volunteers who keep the Bighorn Sheep away from visitors. We didn’t see any sheep, just the volunteers.
We walked up to 12,200 ft and I could start to feel the altitude. Another 5:30 A.M. alarm tomorrow, so I’m signing off.