Up early, Kay and I drove into RMNP for a couple short hikes and possible wildlife viewing. Along the way, we saw our first large group of pronghorns near Grand Lake; the absence of seeing these abundant animals on this trip has surprised us and this is only the second group we’ve seen. We drove along Trail Ridge Road hoping to see wildlife, and spotted a cow and calf elk near the Holzwarth Historic Site, and pulled into the parking lot for a better view. They came really close to us, but a truck pulling a flatbed trailer turned around in the parking lot, and the loud banging of the trailer scared them away.
The first hike of the morning was on the flat Coyote Valley Trail. This one mile hike (walk) took us along the edge of a large meadow known as a gathering place for large numbers of elk, but not today. The trail followed the Colorado River, small, shallow, and meandering at this point. There were more birds here along the river than anywhere we’ve been this summer, except at home. And, we saw several species of butterflies and moths. We really enjoyed this “sunrise” hike, even if it was an hour after sunrise. The second hike was to Adams Falls near Grand Lake, about 2/3 mile round trip. Lots of folks were hiking this trail. The falls appeared pretty innocuous, until one viewed the narrow canyon formed downstream; the erosive action of the water had eaten back into the rock at least a couple of hundred feet. Near the parking lot we met a couple from Massachusetts, and struck up a conversation with them. They had just completed a Roadscholar (formerly Elderhostel) course, and had taken many in the past. We shared our experience with Elderhostel; and after our conversation with them, want to pursue another one.
Our friends, John and Sandy, arrived about 11:00 AM and we immediately started planning the week’s activities. Granby Ranch has 3 miles of private water on the Fraser River, and we called about making reservations. Apparently, there are 5 beats (sections of the river) and when you reserve/contract for that reach you have exclusive fishing rights; we will try to schedule it for Wednesday. After a brief rest, we drove to Grand Lake for ladies “shopping” time while John and I sat on a bench watching people. We ate a great, late lunch at The Rapids Inn, outside on the banks of the Tonahutu River, at the North Inlet of Grand Lake, the headwaters of the Colorado River.
The four of us drove to RMNP and immediately saw a cow moose near the same location as the previous two days. We also saw a few elk along the road before beginning our ascent on the Trail Ridge Road. We stopped at a couple of overlooks on the way to the Alpine Visitors Center; there, we saw large bull elk and his harem in the glacial valley below, and a yellow-bellied marmot sunning itself on a nearby boulder.
We turned around at the Visitors Center, and beginning the descent, saw a large bull elk and small harem right along the road, and a smaller bull was grazing with the herd. We continued to see more elk as we descended, including a solo bull near the west entrance, and we heard him bugle! John and Sandy must lead a charmed life to see all these animals on their first half day.
After the long afternoon, we enjoyed a nice quiet evening.