The 3:30am wake up call came with some ease this go around. Surprisingly, my eyes naturally popped open without an alarm. It’s as if my natural body clock knew what was coming. I rolled out of bed and got moving for today’s destination: Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park. Who doesn’t want to ring in a new year watching the sun rise dramatically over the snow caped mountains?
Rocky Mountain National Park Info
However, here’s the catch: Rocky Mountain National Park is quickly becoming one of the most popular national parks in the United States. According to the park, in 2014 there were over 3.4 million visitors. That’s staggering. Traffic jams, long lines, and overcrowded trails have lead me to mostly stay away from the place despite the scenery.
So why did I bother? Well, my tactic to avoiding crowds in popular wilderness areas is simple – I’m up painfully early and I go during the off-season. Today was a perfect example of that. January 1st is the number 1 day to sleep in. Squirrel and I decided that is the perfect time to hit the hay early and head to the park’s most popular area – Haiyaha Lake Trailhead in the Bear Lake parking area.
Lake Haiyaha Trail Area
The trail to Haiyaha Lake is one of the most popular trails in the state if not all of the National Parks. Honestly, this comes as no surprise. The trail is roughly 4 miles round trip up pretty easy terrain. As you meander gently uphill the trail treats you to 4 pristine high alpine lakes nestled among staggeringly high dramatic cliffs. The trail gets tougher and thus, less crowded, once you start to gain a rather short ridge to the final Lake – Lake Haiyaha. As you round the corner you’re greeted with a steep drop to a valley below while surrounded by the iconic rocky peaks that make Colorado famous.
The place is a dream. And we had it all to ourselves. Ya sure, conditions were less than ideal, but fit for a new year. Everything isn’t going to go your way, there will always be an obstacle to overcome in return for reward.
Reflecting on Life
We marched among the giants shrouded in swirling clouds. Every now and then they fully unveiled themselves. Each breath felt like a new life, a new sense of being, a new beginning. A new sense of awakening enveloped the landscape as the sun rose warming my soul and unveiling the pure beauty of a new day.
Surrounded by indescribable beauty while we endured 40 mph blowing snow and -5F temps mirrored the struggles it takes to squeeze all the juice from life. Nature teaches us to appreciate every moment.
As 2017 opens up I’m incredibly thankful to have spent the first day of it in one of the most beautiful spots this vast country has to offer.
So wake up early! Walk a few miles. Watch a sunrise. Surround yourself with the beauty of your world around you. Away from cars, buildings, cities, technology. Find yourself in the moment experiencing every snowflake, breeze, and each tinge of color in the morning sky.
Happy Adventurous New Year!