Day 41: Mt. Ida

Last night, for the first time ever, Zak and I shared a tent, while the girls slept in the one right next to us. We were in a Rocky Mountain National Park campground and all felt comfortable with the idea of the girls being on their own. I know they envisioned hours of giggling and talking. I had some romantic idea similar to what you see in the the Patagonia catalog for Zak and me. I don’t think anyone expected the reality. We were all asleep within minutes of zipping up the tents.

The night was chilly, but didn’t cause a great loss of sleep. The alarm was super early though, 5:00. We packed up camp in the usual hour it takes us and were at the Mt. Ida trailhead a little after 6:30. It was at that time I realized made two epic mistakes. 1. I forgot to grab a can of my coffee concentrate from the cooler. 2. I forgot to put on deodorant. Both situations caused the rest of the family to be a bit irritated with me.

This hike has been on our agenda for years. I remember the ranger who first told us about it during rtxv and raved about the views. A couple of years ago it thunderstormed the day we had planned on hiking it and last year the snow was too deep to even attempt. This was our year! Finally!

The hike was good. A little on the challenging side for me, but my muscles were pretty tired from the previous four days and I hadn’t had any coffee. Fortunately, the steepest parts were within the first mile and a half and the last mile. That left a long, glorious two and a half miles in the middle of the accent that were relatively flat. Along the way up we saw dozens of marmots, my new favorite animal, I could have watched them all day. They make this squeaky barky sound when they wanted to communicate with their friends. We also saw many deer, a herd of elk, and a moose this morning.

The summit was just as stunning as the ranger years ago told us it would be. The mountain is located in the near center of RMNP and you can see the whole park from the summit. The feeling of being at the top of a mountain is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. The adrenaline rushes and I feel like I could accomplish anything. Being at the top with my family who put in just as much work as I did, is remarkable. I got overwhelmed with pride as I looked at our ten and twelve year olds who had just summited their fifth mountain of the trip. Being up there, watching the nature thrive in the harsh conditions, sipping our summit beer, chatting with the few others who have just done the exact same thing, and trying so hard to take it all in so I don’t ever forget the feeling is not easy to communicate.

The hike down was great. I was able to really enjoy the views a bit more than on the way up and took the time to appreciate all we had just done. The most challenging factor was the cold wind. It was wicked and harsh, but we did our best to just push though and get below tree line where it was much more manageable.

After the hike we swung by the Visitor’s Center and then made a quick stop in Estes Park to get a platter of calamari for Ellie. Calamari is her trail name and also one of her favorite foods. I think it was the perfect treat for her! We checked into our adorable hotel and were told that there is no need to make any noise complaints about any loud screeching we may hear tonight. There is a family of bears, a mama and three cubs, that live near the property. The babies often get stuck in the lodgepole pines and need their mom to help get them down. It’s going to be a fun night!

Update: I wrote this a couple of hours ago and just now, as we were coming back from dinner, we saw the mama bear!! She was strolling around the area right at the edge of the woods looking for her dinner!

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