Wednesday, July 22, 1981

31. Big Thompson Canyon, Colorado

Day 31:  Wednesday, July 22, 1981
Grand Lake to Big Thompson Canyon:  65 miles

We slept in this morning - until 6:30.  By the time we had breakfast and did our hostel chores, it was almost 9:00.  It's always hard to get out of a hostel early.

It was a glorious day - our trip through Rocky Mountain National Park continued to prove a welcome relief from Wyoming's desert prairies. We followed Trail Ridge Road through the park; it roughly paralleled the old Ute Indian foot trail.  Grand Lake is approximately 8500' above sea level; the highest point on our ride today was 12183'.  It took us until 2:00 pm to climb up there, and only an hour or so to coast down to Estes Park, which is at 7500'.  The view was magnificent all day.  Only one problem:  I ran out of film at the top, so I didn't get to take any pictures on the descent.

The view from the top
The view from the top, or near there

Estes Park is a tourist town.  It reminds me of Gaylord, Michigan.  We bought groceries there, then headed east on route 34 through Big Thompson Canyon.  The canyon is full of tourist cabins and houses and campgrounds - quite a contrast to the National Park.  It would be beautiful, with its rugged granite walls, if man had not spoiled it.

Cycling through the canyon
Cycling through the canyon

We're camped tonight about 16 miles out of Loveland.  My sleeping bag is still full of wet milk, so I'm using Rick's space blanket.  I hope it keeps me warm.

The climate of 25% of the park is arctic tundra.   The plant life was quite interesting - I took a number of photos of the flowers.  And we saw plenty of chipmunks and marmots begging for food.

Flowers close to the rock
These flowers stick close to the rock, to stay out of the winds

Succulent-like flowers
These flowers looked like succulents, preserving water

Name all these flowers!
Name all these flowers!

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