When my mom was a girl, one of her family’s favorite road trip destinations was Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. They would stay in cabins for weeks at a time and go on challenging day hikes and ranger-led nature programs. In one famous story, a ranger showing them Lake Haiyaha kidded the group that “If any of you aren’t hungry yet, you might want to take a little hike around the lake before lunch.” Mom and her family missed the sarcasm and set off for a hike that had them scrambling over boulders for the next twelve hours!
Despite such stories, the Bishops loved the mountains, and none more so than my mom’s mother, Opal. Grandma Opal, Mom says, used to say you could tell which states were the good ones just by listening to the names. “Kaaansas,” she would say with a nasal accent. “Nebraaaska.” Then she would sing out, “Col-a-rado! Col-a-rado!” And it’s true — the views out our window in Colorado were a universe away from the flat, monotonous scenery we drove through in most of the Midwest. Mom says there are beach people and there are mountain people and she is definitely a mountain person. There’s no question about it: I’m a mountain person, too.
Click the photos to view larger with captions.
The views as we drove west from Denver to our campsite in the Rocky Mountains were worth the trip in themselves.
I love mountains.
It was like we were in a painting.
Our campsite at Arapaho Bay Campground on Lake Granby was equally breathtaking. We had intended to visit Rocky Mountain National Park (where all the campsites were booked), but this spot, part of the Arapaho National Forest, was so perfect we ended up spending our Rocky Mountains day hiking, swimming and relaxing right where we camped.
The view from our campsite. When we reserved our site, I was disappointed that all of the campsites that appeared to be “on the water” were reserved. When we got there, it turned out we had the best spot — spacious, private, and with a great view overlooking the water.
As we arrived at our campsite, Matt pointed out the car window at a mountain peak and wondered how long it would take to climb it. Mom and Dad laughed and said it was much bigger and farther away than it looked and would probably take five hours just to hike to the base of it. Matt didn’t believe them, and the next morning, after lots of warnings about rock slides and getting lost, outfitted with a mirror for signaling, he set out to try it. Half an hour later, he called to say he was on his way up the mountain, and sure enough, Dad spotted him with his binoculars about a quarter of the way up. Two hours after he left, he was at the top of the mountain, having basically climbed straight up, free-climbing in places. On his cell phone talking to Dad, he wondered out loud if a helicopter would come pick him up if he told them he was dehydrated. But he hung in there and made it down in another hour with great photos and a rock souvenir.
Matt sent me this photo he took from the top of the mountain looking down at Lake Granby.
While Matt was summiting his mountain, I went for a run on the trails, going partly up one side of a mountain and then back down to run along the beach and cool off with a dip in the icy lake.
This was the lake near our campsite where we swam. It was chilly with the wind blowing, but beautiful to be out in the middle of that clear, blue water with fluffy clouds overhead and mountains surrounding you in all directions — nearby, green hills on two sides and big snow capped peaks on the others.
We cooked foil packet dinners our first night at the campsite and fish the second night.
Doesn’t Mom and Dad’s bed look cozy?
We were at our campsite in the Rockies on the longest day of the year, which also happened to fall during a brilliant full moon. We barely needed headlamps.
- The Beautiful Rockies (theresamclark.wordpress.com)