Rocky Mountain National Park

	Wild Basin Area 

The Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colorado was my first backpacking adventure! After purchasing alot of gear and doing alot of research about backpacking, Jason Miller, a good friend of mine, and I made the long drive from Ft. Worth, Texas to Estes Park. So after driving all night, getting run off the road by a little old lady, dodging a deer, and hitting a skunk (I tried to miss it..), we arrived at Rocky Mountain National Park around 8:30 AM. Our destination, the Wild Basin area!

We checked in at the backcountry office, confirmed our backcountry sites, and headed off for the trailhead. Our first day hike was 2.5 miles longer than it should have been due to Jason and I parking my car in the wrong spot. Oh well, what's 2.5 more miles with 50+ pounds on your back...

BEAUTIFUL, that's the only way to describe the country side. A roaring mountain stream welcomed us to the forest. Once we finally got to the Wild Basin Trailhead, we soon found how much more a backpack weighs when going up hill, and how much altitude (around 9,000 feet)can affect us flatlanders. All along the trail, the mountain stream roared its welcome to us. We stopped at lower Copeland Falls to take in the view, and what a view it was!

Jason and I got a day hiker to take our picture with the falls in the background. On up the trail a short piece, we stopped to check out Upper Copelland Falls. A quick swig of H2O we were back on the trail. Our campsite for the first day was to be Aspen Knoll, but we first had to find it. The first of the camping areas, Pine Ridge, was easy to find. Our topo map indicated that we had to follow an undeveloped trail on past Tahosa and then to Aspen Knoll. This was easier said than done. Once we found the "undeveloped trail", we continued a strenuous climb in elevation. Jason had to run back and retrieve his GPS which he had left at the Pine Ridge site. Mother nature decided to make it a little more difficult on us by making it drizzle. Great... We needed to find Aspen Knoll and set up camp before the rain really started to pour.

It was all uphill! Quads ached, gluts ached, but we had to find our camp site. Around several bends in the trail, climbing all the way, we finally reached Aspen Knoll ("Camping in designated areas only!" No fires, only stoves). It was a race to get the tent up in the drizzle. We could feel the temperature dropping a bit, but thank goodness nowhere close to freezing. We got the tent up,attached the rain fly, and quickly threw our packs into the tent before everything was soaked. We did it! We were all iside and dry.... except for the large puddle of water on my side of the tent. Doah! My fault. I didn't close the lid tightly enough on one of my water bottles. After Jason and I stopped laughing (all that rushing around to keep us dry and I spill an entire container of H2O inside the tent), I grabbed a towel and started soaking up the water.

We needed rest... The 14.5 hour drive all night long, 50+ pounds on our backs, the altitude, and the uphill climb pushed us to our limits. The rain came, but we were warm and dry (and exhasted). The short nap we took worked wonders! We awoke hungry, but a lite drizzle still fell. We decided to set up my stove just outside the tent for a hearty meal of beef stew and rice. Jason was eager to eat the stew not only because he was hungry, but because each can weighed 1 pound! The stew was devoured and the drizzle subsided. We washed our pans, put up the stove and got ready for a hopefully restful sleep. Tomorrow, Thunder Falls!

Ready for the Wild Basin!

Jason Miller (right) and I on the trail

Some of the local wildlife.

Enjoying the view..

Beautiful Thunder Lake

Here I am standing next to a small permanent glacier.

The view down at Thunder Lake from the Continental Divide!