We woke up to breakfast in our little house and got out the door like a herd of turtles, arriving at the Fall River visitor center around 10. There, we picked up Junior Ranger workbooks for all 3 kids and spoke with a ranger about hikes and any wildlife spotting a we should go check out. He suggested the Big Horn Sheep Ranger Talk, starting up the road at Sheep Lake in 10 minutes.
Did you know the Big Horn Sheep of RMNP require access to these Glacial Lakes, not for water, but for the minerals they get from licking the mud around the lake? Crazy!
Alert! Big Horns spotted near the Alluvial Fan, again just up the road.
Ok, they were pretty high up the mountain and we only had one pair of binoculars and the kids spent the whole stop fighting over them but, still, cool.
Next, a drive up to the Alpine Visitor Center, the highest of it’s kind in the park system. The Rangers have carved a giant “NPS100” into the deep snow. Cool but it’s cold up there so we get our asses back down to the valley.
At the Sprague Lake trailhead, we enjoy a picnic lunch at a lovely little table in the warm sunshine. We took a walk around the lake and it was beautiful and nearly flat, wheelchair accessible even! However, at nearly every turn there were bouldering opportunities. Rocks to clamber and climb upon. Tiny little winding trails through giant boulders. And views over the lake and up into the peaks ahead. We even got to see the Glacier that formed the lake (you can see it in the mountain pic below). The kids loved it!
We all needed a little refreshment after the hike so we headed to downtown Estes and enjoys some sodas and beer at The Barrel, where we ran into the Chessers! Love seeing familiar faces far from home.
After a bit of shopping, a pop in at Brad Hull’s Uncle Jim’s Ore Cart Rock Shop (got to see a Dino egg and a meteorite!) and a quick rest at home, we headed down the hill 100 yards and ate dinner at a recommended Mexican restaurant. This was the first time we ate out on this trip and it reminded us why we shouldn’t take it for granted! The bill was $100 for our family of 5. Yes, Eric and I each had a margarita as big as our heads and, yes, we also each had a beer and, yes, we let Josie order the cheese dip that she desperately wanted but, $100 on Mexican? Damn! Our entire grocery bill for 2 dinners, 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches and ice cream for all (natch) was $115. Give me an easy spegghetti and Caesar meal at home with a Bota box of Revolution at my personal disposal any day! In the future, we’ll be saving dinners out for must-do spots (like how if you visit KC, you have to eat at OK Joe’s).
Bellies full, heads down and wallet light, we trudged back up the hill to our little house. We snuggled up in the living room to watch Fellowship of the Ring. Damn, it’s been a while and damn, this movie is scary and, oh shit, Teddy shouldn’t be watching this. Oh, look at the time! We’ve got a long drive in the morning. Until the Tetons, everybody!