Everything about today was backwards. We slept in. We ate a huge late breakfast out. We did “touristy” things in the morning. We didn’t begin hiking until 4:30. We ended our hike going downhill. Everything was mixed up.
We have finally found perfect accommodations in Estes Park. This was our second year staying at Ponderosa Lodge and it was just as charming as last year. We slept in, had fresh brewed coffee on our little patio, watched the river rush by, and enjoyed a slice of serenity. After showering and packing up we found a new-to-us breakfast spot, Notch Top. We didn’t really eat much yesterday, so everything on the menu sounded so good. We were all overwhelmed with the options and to alleviate some of the stress, we started with an appetizer of cinnamon rolls. Delish! We were all stuffed after a huge, rare breakfast.
After doing a load of laundry we headed into RMNP and drove to the Alpine Lodge on Old Fall River Road. It was breathtakingly beautiful. With a speed limit of only 15, and a very strict no tablets/phones rule in NPS sites, we all enjoyed the views. Except for Zak, he was doing his best to navigate the crazy switchbacks and insanely steep drop offs.
We spent a good amount of time at the Alpine Visitors Center buying a few last souvenirs and a small bite to eat of bison brats. Following that stop we made the hour drive to the Bear Lake area. There we put on our backpacking packs for the last time and began the 4.2 mile hike to Odessa Lake. It was late in the afternoon and once we got past Bear Lake, about 0.2 miles into the hike, we were nearly the only people hiking. It was fun to hike in the evening. There was a different aura surrounding us. Everything seemed a little sleepier, a bit more relaxed, more low-key. The sunlight hit the rocks in a different way. The small critters we saw appeared to be ending their days too. I would love to do more nighttime hikes in the future.
After a fairly easy hike we approached Lake Odessa. Talk about serenity. The snow melt fed lake, surrounded by little waterfalls, and feeding a rushing creek was the perfect way to end our almost last hike. We climbed some rocks, ate a light dinner of beef jerky, and tried our best to take it all in.
Once the mosquitoes got too annoying, we hiked a quarter mile to our backpacking camp site. It’s perfect. I’m sharing a tent with Zoe and after writing we are going to play cards and chat about life and the trip until our eyelids get too heavy. In the morning we’ll do our best to sleep in a bit and then begin our final hike of rtxviii.