After getting refreshed from a nice shower and lunch at Great Sand Dunes NP, we made our way up to Rocky Mountain NP. We camped about 20 minutes outside the park at a freecampsite.net location that was quite nice. We set up camp, made some spaghetti for dinner, and called it a night. Although we both slept really well, it was a freezing night. We woke up in the morning to our tent being completely covered in ice, as well as ice on the inside part of the rain fly from the condensation. A rain puddle outside our tent was completely frozen and Zippy had frost all over her!! Come to find out it got down to 28 degrees that night!! Good thing we have really good sleeping bags!!
When we woke up we found out that Kara, a friend from back home, was still working her summer job at a lodge just outside the national park. We got in contact with Kara, hung out with her for a bit in the morning then went and killed time in the cute little town of Grand Lake, Colorado. We went down to the lake and made a pancake breakfast, then went into the town to the market that was going on. This town is so cute!! The sidewalks were all wood, and the people there were very entertaining. We talked with a shop owner for probably 20 minutes as he shared his life story and told us about a bear that just walked into his store in the middle of the day just the week prior to us being there.
After being downtown for a bit, we picked up Kara and took her into Rocky Mountain National Park with us to do a short hike. We hiked to a beautiful meadow and got to catch up on life! It was great. We then dropped her back off at the lodge, went and hiked to a water fall, hung out at an internet café for a bit, grabbed some dinner and amazing salsa from a Mexican restaurant that had great karaoke, then met Kara back up at the lodge for some games before heading out to celebrate her last night in Grand Lake. We had a nice bed for the night and even got a shower in the morning before taking off to head back into the national park.
We woke up at 6:15, showered, said our goodbyes to Kara, and were on our way into the park by 7:15. The hike everyone told us we had to do was just about at the top of the scenic drive and once we got to the parking lot, Jason wasn’t feeling too well so we stayed in the car for a bit for him to sleep in hopes of feeling better upon waking up. I sat and read for a bit, then closed my eyes as well. We were awoken about 15 minutes later by a park ranger banging on our window. He thought he was hot stuff, questioning us about sleeping in the park overnight and explaining that it is illegal to do so. We told him probably four times that we didn’t sleep in the park overnight, that we had just got there and weren’t feeling well so we took a nap, and by the fifth time of us starting to say the same story again he said, “Okay, I believe you. Feel better and remember that we don’t allow people to sleep in their cars overnight” and let us be.
Jason was feeling better so we decided to take off on our hike. It was pretty chilly so we bundled up in scarves, our thick jackets, gloves, and beanies. The hike was so pretty heading up and really enjoyable, but once we got out of the tree covering the wind made the hike extremely difficult. We were struggling to even take a step without the wind blowing our leg to the side. We tried to keep going through the wind, but there was no way to continue. We were tripping and falling all over the place, so we had to turn around so we wouldn’t get hurt.
We got back to the car and blasted the heater to try and warm up a bit. We then drove to the main visitor center, then headed down the rest of the scenic drive just as it began to rain. It cleared up towards the bottom of the drive and we could see the leaves that were beginning to change. Since it was still early in the day and we had a 15 hour drive ahead of us to the next national park, we hit the road and drove until we couldn’t drive anymore.