Updated: Jul 22, 2019
I wrote about a favorite park a few blogs ago and wanted to write about another favorite place in the world. This is a picture of Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. The lake is not my favorite (I like Black Lake if I had to pick one), but the park is. I love this park. The entirety of Rocky Mountain National park. And Estes Park.
I love it because some of the most inspiring nature I have ever seen. I haunt pictures of Scotland for the same reason. And I want to go to Europe, but for now, RMNP it is. My favorite things are mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests. And RMNP has a lot of those. I haven't even seen them all and I've been there dozens of times.
The most recent time was the hardest. My paternal grandmother loved climbing mountains (into her 70s!). My dad loves doing it, and I love doing it. I assume it's our German and Scottish blood driving us. I always see the mountains as we drive up to Colorado, ecstatic when I can distinguish them among the blue clouds on the horizon. For some reason, I think I can embrace them. They are my long-lost friends. We don't keep in touch often but when we meet up again, it's like I never left. I feel so at home.
We have only vacationed to Colorado. We were never an "every year" family because let's face it, who can afford to vacation every year with 9 kids? But every trip was wonderful. The most recent once, as I said, was the hardest. This was the first time without my brother David who passed away in November of 2017. This was the time we spread grandma's ashes. It was a hard trip. It felt so wrong to enjoy myself among the best place on earth with both of them gone. I felt so guilty.
There is life in every corner of RMNP. If it's not the tourists in Estes Park, it's a bear or wild moose doing his thing on the side of a mountain. It's giant river fish swimming hard. It's the moss, teeming with tiny bugs. It's the living mountains, shifting, glaciers not forgotten. But we carried sadness and death with us.
This picture here is Cub Lake. It burned in 2012 because some hikers lite a fire, killing the entire mountainside. This was my grandma's favorite hike. You start far away, walking through the most beautiful meadows I have ever seen. We got there early (as you always want to do when hiking in RMNP) and were able to see the dew on the tall grass. It starts to slope up and before you know it, you are surrounded by thick, green trees. There is a kind of icy runoff babbling near by that if you go off the trail you can spot it. It's beautiful, I recommend a quick jaunt off the trail (unless you don't know how to get back on). Then it's all silver rocks and dark, green. It's magic the closer you get to Cub Lake. Once you are there, these days, you burst out of the trees into the torched section. It's still beautiful and so sudden. There are tons of rocks to climb on.
We had asked the park if we could spread grandma's ashes there. So we did. Among the ashes of the trees at the top of one of her favorite hikes. Mom and dad thought about putting David there too. I prayed they wouldn't and they didn't. He needs to stay with us.
But those trees are growing back. My grandma was a hardcore green thumb. She cut her finger off with a lawnmower. She loved making things grow and honestly, if we had back to Cub Lake and people are saying they have idea how it is regenerating so fast, I would not be surprised. Not in the least. She'll take one look at those needy greens and get to work.
I love Rocky Mountain National Park. It may not be Scotland or even Montana, but it is the best place in the world.