Rocky Mountain National Park on a Winter Weekend

@ Loch Lake in January

I recently had an opportunity to visit Colorado for a full week (seven full days!) in January to do some research (see full analysis here) on possibly moving here in the near future. I decided to go see the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP for short) north of Denver on the weekend before heading down south to Colorado Springs for some outdoor climbing.

We stayed in Estes Park, Colorado right outside of RMNP. I first learned about Estes Park from Tommy Caldwell‘s book ‘The Push‘, the famous Dawn Wall rock climber superstar I met earlier this year. I was so shocked to find out that Estes Park, as a mountain town, is actually quite a lot bigger than I imagined in my mind. What a place to grow up as a kid! No wonder Tommy was drawn to outdoors and climbing.

We stayed with River Rock Cottages (Terry & Carolyn) and only about 10 minutes drive from most of the trailheads. The house was perfect with hot shower and a kitchen for 2 nights. 

We went on a hike to the Loch Lake and it was only about 2.5 miles one way (5 miles total) but feels like 10 miles trudging through snow with microspikes (rented here for $5). It would’ve been better if it weren’t so windy so you have some desire to take your hands out of your pockets and fish for some food in your pack.

A long-nosed snowman rocking a pine-tree bikini at the beginning of the trail

The last 100 yards by the lake was EXTREMELY windy. I really was hoping for a view of the quiet tranquil frozen lake where I could possibly find a bush somewhere to relieve myself from having drunk too much tea in the morning. But the +40 mph windchill probably made a 10-degree-Fahrenheit day feels like NEGATIVE 20 degrees. It is quite an experience peeing in the high wind in the ‘feels-like-negative-20-degree’ weather. I understood what it’s like to instantly freeze within 5 seconds of exposed skin. I seriously couldn’t feel my buttocks until we got off the mountain and into town.

After this wretched hike with cold that chilled to our very souls, we came down the mountain and had THE BIGGEST burger we can find in an Irish pub, and it goes without saying, a nice cold beer (cider for me!).