Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rocky Mountains Day 2 // Hiking and Horseback Riding

The view from our balcony as the sun was rising

After a somewhat restful night of sleep and a bit of adjusting to the altitude, we headed out for our first adventure of the day!

Emerald Lake Hike

We drove to the Bear Lake trail-head and started out on a hike that we had done as children. The hike is 1.8 miles up a mountain and passes by Nymph and Dream Lakes, and then ends at Emerald Lake.

We SO loved this hike and had a blast! I'll let the pictures and videos tell the story (and there are a lot!)

Just starting out! 

 The first lake of the hike: Nymph Lake

Heading upwards! 

The Aspen trees were just beginning to turn color and were beautiful! 

Just one of the many, many gorgeous views. How I love the mountains! 

Leah on our way up - we had so much fun. :) It was really special making so many wonderful memories together!

A lovely mountain stream . . . there were many of these and how we enjoyed listening to the water flowing with such a view in the background! 

Enjoying the water and photographing

Leah at one of the beautiful overlooks

Continuing on our way to Dream Lake

Before long, we were there!

The trail leads along the lake for awhile, and it was lovely walking through the pine trees . . . there was such a strong scent of pine!

Dream Lake is so beautiful! The trail winds around part of it, and this was a ways further on the trail. The water is really blue when the light hits it like this!

Leah beside Dream Lake. It was neat as the water was so clear you could see the colorful trout in it.

It's getting rockier! 

A kind couple took this photo for us . . . it was really nice visiting with a lot of the other hikers (many of whom were older) and exchanging photo taking. We met people from all over the country, including several from Missouri. And we for sure heard some Australian accents and I think Russian, too.

Taking a photo for a couple we talked with for a bit.

Visiting with them afterward.

Me up the trail a ways. The size of some of the rock formations was really impressive!

Asters blooming along the way

Climbing higher

And we're there! Our destination of Emerald Lake

It was exciting to reach the lake and enjoy the beauty all around! Including a narrow waterfall on the opposite side of the lake which ran down into it.

Leah pointing out a little ground squirrel. They were quite tame!

After enjoying the lake and views for awhile, it was time to head back down

One of the little ground squirrels. He was rather obliging for the photo. :)

And the first video! (Please pardon the dirty lens :)

A pretty little waterfall along the trail

Videoing at Dream Lake

Soaking in the great beauty all around

Another lovely mountain stream


The views were so breathtaking here that we had to stop and enjoy them for awhile!

Another kind couple took a photo for us here.

And then Leah took one for them!

A little Gray Jay

How incredibly beautiful is God's creation!

An Aster - there weren't a lot of wildflowers, but the ones that were flowering, were beautiful!

Bear Lake

Heading back to our car for lunch and driving to the next place on our plan for the day.

The Alluvial Fan

Our next stop was the Alluvial Fan . . . the location of a giant rockslide. During our trip, we went there on two different days, so this will be the photos from the first day plus the video I took the second visit. We really enjoyed our time here! What's not to love with the gorgeous views, rocks to climb all over, and a waterfall? :)

It was such a beautiful place!

Leah climbing up the rocks on our way up closer to the start of the Alluvial Fan

Leah looking out over the bottom of the Alluvial Fan

And a closer up photo of her enjoying the view and the sound of the water

Me photographing . . . it was so fun climbing around and exploring here! 

When we had come here as children, there was a place with a rock that we had sat on and prayed together. We dubbed it our 'prayer rock', and Dad had taken a photo of it then. I had so hoped to find the same place again on this trip, but alas, the landscape had changed significantly (not really a surprise since it has been over 20 years!) This is the closest we could find to the original rock and spot so I took this photo.

A Stellar's Jay - these were fun to watch!

After our much enjoyed time at the Alluvial Fan, we drove over to Sheep Lakes in the hopes of spotting some Bighorn Sheep.

Looking out across the valley of Sheep Lakes. There is a tiny 'puddle' down on the mid-left, and then there were two small 'lakes' to the right of this photo.

Our visit was unsuccessful in that regard, though we did find some Mule Deer! They were neat to see . . . .

A few of the Mule Deer bucks that were up on the hill behind Sheep Lakes (only two are in this photo.)

We decided to next make a brief stop at our lodge to refresh a bit and change into our boots there before heading out on something we were really looking forward to . . . .

Horseback Riding in Horseshoe Park

When we were planning our trip, one thing that we really wanted to do was take a trail ride. The stable we found has trails throughout Rocky Mountain National Park, and it was really neat and so enjoyable to take a trail ride in the mountains! It was a combination of two of our favorite things: being out in God's beautiful creation and horseback riding.

Looking down toward the stable

The trail was so fun and a fair bit more rugged than we had anticipated which we were glad for (all the photos were taken on the easy parts. :) We really loved our two hours riding! We went down into valleys, up the mountains, by Fall River, with not another person in sight save for the five of us on the ride and our guide.

Leah on her horse Silverado

Me on my horse Moses with our guide in front - Moses had a fair bit of energy which was fun!

Passing by beautiful Fall River

Leah so loving riding her favorite animal. (It was quite hard to get photos of her since she was behind me! This one was the best I could do.) Behind her is a fun couple that we enjoyed talking with and riding the trail with.

What gorgeous views we were able to enjoy while we rode!

We didn't see any wildlife on the ride, save for some birds, though we did hear a Bull Elk bugling in the distance which was neat!

Once our trail ride had come to an end, we spent a bit of time with 'our' horses before heading back to our lodge. On the drive there, what should we see right along the road, but these three elk! They definitely warranted a stop. :)

After seeing the Elk, we decided to turn around and go to Sheep Lakes again just in case there were any Bighorn Sheep there. We scanned all around with both binoculars and our spotting scope and still didn't see any. Though there were a number of big bull Elk way off in the distance, two of which did some sparring.

Leah took this photo through our spotting scope with her phone. 

While there, we also enjoyed visiting with a friendly Park Ranger. He said that the sheep only come down to the lakes to lick the mineral so their visits are pretty sporadic, and it isn't often they are seen this time of year. He did suggest looking at a couple of places up on Trail Ridge Road which we were going to drive the next day.

The sun was sinking lower, so we called it a day and headed for our home away from home, already looking forward to our adventures planned for the next day!


  1. You certainly enjoyed the great outdoors. I have travelled vicariously through this post. Thank you.

    1. We did indeed, Suze! I am glad that you enjoyed 'traveling with us. :) And you're welcome!

  2. Oh Sarah, what beauty there is in such scenery. I felt as though I had almost done the trip with you! It must have been such fun together.

    1. There certainly is, Elizabeth! Wherever you looked there was something beautiful to see. Yes, we did have a lot of fun together! And it made me smile that the post made it feel almost like you had come along. :)

  3. Ahhh...it feels like home seeing your pictures and videos. I'm loving the addition of videos! The elk are so fascinating. We used to have huge herds come walking through our front yard and back yard when we lived in CO. It was so much fun to experience it. I'm so happy you were able to experience it as well. It fully and completely makes the universe speak of Gods handiwork in such a beautiful way.

    1. I am glad it could do that for you, Nabila! And also that you are liking the videos. :)

      How neat that you used to have herds of elk go through your place! That would have been quite the sight to see. We loved all the sightings of elk we were able to enjoy while there.

      Yes, it does indeed! All of creation gives testament to its Creator and gives praise to His name . . . that thought kept coming to mind during our time there. His hand is so clearly seen!

  4. Beautiful scenery! I hope to go there one day.
    I love your modest blouses! Do you know what brand they are? Or are they what is being sold as dresses?

    1. I hope you are able to go someday, Kathy! I am sure you would love it there. It is so beautiful!

      Our tops were sold as dresses. :) In this post, the one I am wearing is Aeropostale (and I brought the skirt in a bit to make it less full.) The brand of Leah's is En Focus Studio and was bought on ebay.

      In the next post (Part 3), both of our tops were bought off of ebay . . . mine is an Eddie Bauer dress that I altered (shortened and then added back ties to it) and Leah's is a Speechless brand dress.

      With all of them, we wear either a layering tank or a half-tee (from halftee.com) under them.

      It's not easy finding modest tunics/long tops, so hopefully knowing the brands of these will help you to find some if you would like!

  5. Sarah...Love, love your pictures and videos!!!! Next time we visit our friends in Colorado we are going to have to hike to all the beautiful lakes!! Thank you so much for sharing......on to you next post. (I am behind due to internet down some)

    1. I am glad that you are enjoying them, Linda! I know you would love the trail to the lakes! You'll have to let me know what you think about it when you go. :)

      You're welcome for sharing!

  6. AH~~!!! That landscape is so beautiful! I want to cry!!!
    Wow. Haha, how in the world did you even make it to the end of the trail? It seems so tempting just to stop at every vista for hours and drink it in. I'm not sure I'd have the willpower to leave and keep going. Amazing! I love those rocks and boulders. Haha, Iowa doesn't have those either. :P
    Pine forests are my favorite kind of forest! I love how they smell, how the wind whispers through them. AH~!
    I don't know what the pine forests are like on that side of the rockies. The ones in Arizona had no underbrush at all. You could see around the trunks all the way through. (Here in Iowa, the forests are like rain forests -- a wall of impenetrable green undergrowth!)

    Climbing over rocks is really awesome, too. It's almost my favorite kind of hiking -- the challenge of it, being able to climb all over everything. It's hard to stop or slow down for me. I always want to see the next rock or try and climb the next outcrop.

    Horse back riding is SO MUCH FUN! I might have to scratch what I said about climbing over rocks. Goodness, I might need to recruit you to plan our vacations. That looks like so much fun! :D What are those yellow things behind the saddles?

    Thank you so much for taking those lovely pictures! It's wonderful to see God's creation. I might have to show these to my hubby. He loves nature pictures, too!

    By the way, you did a great job videoing. :) They really added a lot to your post!

    1. Judging from your comment, Christina, I can tell you would love the Rocky Mountains! Isn't it so gorgeous? I can well sympathize with your feelings!

      Yes! It was hard to not stop for longer and more often along the trail! But since we had the horseback riding scheduled and we didn't know how long the the trail would take or how long it would take to get from place to place, we didn't linger as long as we would have liked. But definitely long enough to soak things in and thoroughly enjoy every moment!

      Oh yes, I love pine forests, too! The smell of them and the sound of the wind in their branches . . . lovely.

      I know what you mean about climbing over rocks and having it be your favorite kind of hiking. I really like it as well! It's so fun to keep on going and going.

      The horseback riding was indeed so much fun! The yellow things on the back of the saddles are rain slickers that they provide just in case it starts raining on the trail.

      I'm glad that you are enjoying the photos and videos! And thank you for your kind comment on the videos. :) I really enjoyed doing that.

      You're welcome for sharing. :) And if you do show the photos toyour husband, I hope he enjoys them, too!

  7. Dear Sarah,

    I live in the French Alps and these photos are beautiful and very similar to the landscapes we have here. The animals are the same. I felt like watching your pictures take a hike next to the house. Thank you. Marlène from France

    1. It must be so beautiful where you live, Marlene! Mountains have such a majestic grandeur about them. I am glad you enjoyed the photos!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)