April 14, 2016
I had the greatest birthday! I started the day with a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Tanya and Diana met me at my house, and we carpooled to Lumpy Ridge Trailhead where we arrived to the parking area around 10am. While I think all of us have a park pass, this area isn’t near the main entrance of the park doesn’t actually require one. Since it was April and Thursday, the trail wasn’t too busy either. Another added bonus, a week after a massive snow storm the south facing slope was snow free, so we actually got to hike rather than snowshoe.
We started gaining a decent amount of elevation as we climbed a stairstep trail surrounded by large granite boulders and unique rock formations. Being the beginning of the hiking season, we took a few opportunities to catch our breath while enjoying the view. We worked up a sweat quickly and shed layers down to short sleeves in the sunny fifty degree weather before we even reached Gem Lake, located 1.8 miles into our 7.8 mile roundtrip.
After admiring the lake tucked beneath the cliffs, we carried on to the trail junction where we turned left. The trail leveled off as we crossed over the ridge and walked through some open space before entering the forest. The trail narrowed as we descended through the pines. Occasionally, we had to walk carefully through some snowy areas or take short detour, but for the most part we stayed on the undulating path.
Eventually we reached another ridge and expected to see “Balanced Rock” at the top which we didn’t immediately spot. We descended again, and there it was on the right side of the trail. It was a lovely spot for lunch slightly out of the wind. As we snacked on fruit, nuts, sandwiches and some birthday bundt cake, the clouds hid the sun and we were soon in our puffy jackets that once again we stripped off as we climbed back up the ridge!
It was nice to see a few wildflowers and just listen to the chirps of chipmunks and birds with spring on its way. We even spotted a bunny at the very end! We finished up our 7.8 miles around 2pm, and I got home just a few hours before our family went for dinner. We tried Bones, an asian fusion restaurant, that was very nice. David spoiled me with a chocolate cake and wonderful gifts before we headed out to meet friends for drinks.
Charlie Brown’s knows how the treat people right on their birthday…$30 of drinks on the house! Chris, Ashley, Kelly, Vela, and Bridget all joined us, and we ended the night singing along with the piano player! FUN DAY…ETB