[Rocky Mountain National Park, Jul 29, 2022]
The crappy weather the day before turned our hiking plans around quite a bit. We did not intend to hike a strenuous 10.5-mile hike the day before our half marathon, but we didn’t have much of a choice.
The hike to Sky Pond is one of the most popular ones in the park. Sky Pond is the ultimate destination but there are three more lakes along the way – Mills, The Loch and Glass Lake – as well as a towering waterfall and a pretty serious rock scramble. It promised to be an adventure!
The trailhead was the same as for Emerald Lake the day before. However, since we started much earlier, we were able to snag one of the few parking spots left at the trailhead and did not have to park further up and take the park shuttle like the day before. We were at the trailhead right around 6 am and got to see the sunrise cast alpenglow on the rocks. We also saw an elk!
By this time, we were well acclimated to the altitude and made good time getting up to the first two lakes.
We were amazed at how well this trail was maintained. There were plenty of stairs, planks and bridges for the sections that would have been sketchy to cross otherwise.
After a couple of hours, we were at the base of Timberline Falls. The main portion of the waterfall drops roughly 100 feet, and continues cascading down the valley below. We could look out across the valley for a birds-eye view of The Loch in the distance.
After some trepidation due to the fact that I was wearing my running shoes and not more sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes, I finally crossed the water to get closer to the base of Timberline Falls. May and Olivia had already spent some time there getting photos and trying to convince me to join them.
Just to the side of Timberline falls was that serious scramble we had read about. It was technically part of the waterfall and so there was some water trickling down, making certain sections wet and slippery. One section in the beginning is particularly challenging as it is quite vertical and requires both hand and foot holds. I attempted it, then decided it was too much for me and let May go ahead while I stayed with Olivia. However, after watching quite a few people and a lot of women disappear into the void, FOMO took hold and I had to try it again. And I made it up! Phew!
The trail is a little bit harder to follow once at the top of Timberline Falls. Suddenly, there weren’t any people around. After meandering for a few minutes, I finally picked up the trail and made my way towards Sky Pond. I was rushing to catch up to May and so I didn’t really pay attention to the lake right at the top of the waterfall, Glass Lake. It was beautiful in its own right and I gave it the attention it deserved on the way back.
I was almost at Sky Pond when I saw May heading towards me. She was so excited I made it! She even returned to Sky Pond with me to make sure I had good photos of my accomplishment!
You would think we would spend the rest of the day resting – no such luck. We had to pick up our bibs for the half marathon tomorrow.
We figured we’d have to do at least one touristy thing in town while we’re at it. And so we found ourselves at the Stanley Hotel.
Freelan Oscar Stanley, co-founder of the Stanley Motor Carriage Company, built the Stanley Hotel in 1909. The Stanley began as a resort for upper-class Easterners and a health retreat for sufferers of pulmonary tuberculosis. The Stanley Hotel inspired the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s 1977 bestselling novel The Shining. Since then, it has gained a reputation for paranormal activity and capitalizes on that reputation by offering “spirited tours”. They were sold out for the day but we did take the historical tour, which included the concert hall and the lodge.
After bib pickup, we went to dinner with our friend Laura, who had just made it into town with her family. We were all way past our peak marathon running days, so we were a little nervous about the half marathon the next day. We wondered if we would make it under the 4-hour race cutoff.
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