4.21 AM Mountain time. Aviana was clearly still on Eastern time. We had agreed the night before if she woke up at 4 AM we would get up and get to Rocky Mountain National Park before 6AM. Yes we are lunatics, but why? Because COVID-19. The park was only allowing entry by advanced reservations in 2hr time slots. We didn’t get the time slot we wanted, but apparently if you arrived before 6AM it’s a free for all.
We had a bit of breakfast, packed our lunch, got dressed and hit the road at 5.30AM. It was surprisingly busy at that time of the morning, I guess everyone else had the same idea.
Our first point of interest was old Fall River rd, a one way unpaved track, open only 4 months of the year, with some crazy hairpin turns and steep drop offs. It was a fantastic drive. We stopped at chasm falls a short walk to some fast moving and very cold waterfalls. Aviana was thrilled to be amongst rocks to climb, although she kept asking when would we be at the mountains. Confused, we told her we were in the mountains. It wasn’t until we met direct sunlight that she declared that we were officially in the mountains. Ok then!
As we climbed and climbed to 12000 ft we met the beautiful early morning sunshine and the tundra. Alpine tundra, filled with lush green grass and beautiful wild alpine flowers. We met some wildlife along the way…deer, a moose and plenty of marmots whom I have nicknamed as the beaver cats. As they run, their thick fluffy tails swish high like a happy cat. I also caught sight of a Pica and a tiny bird that I am determined to find out what it was because it was amazing how fast it dipped and dived.
Aviana had to learn the hard lesson of staying on the footpath. It took somewhat of a tantrum from her before she realized that we must follow the rules to stop the alpine flowers from becoming extinct. We then learned the hard lesson of ensuring we carry a carrier with us whenever we can because although she appeared seemingly capable and willing of walking, she was actually kaput. Some more climbing up to the peak and playing around rocks. The temperature was as the book said somewhat 30 degrees F cooler at the top. We were glad we came prepared with hats to keep our ears warm.
After being completely wind swept we started to drive back to camp just in time for lunch. We couldn’t believe how much we achieved in just one morning. It wasn’t actually too busy in the park, the reservation limits clearly was having an impact, and we can’t imagine what it would be like without COVID-19. In some ways, we were spoilt to be able to enjoy the park without the crowds.