If a Tree Falls in the Forest…

If you’ve been to Colorado, chances are you’ve seen elk. No matter how many times I see them, I’m still amazed at these cow/horse-like deer creatures. I was hoping I would see one while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park today, but I didn’t. Instead, I stepped out of my hotel room and was shocked to see part of a herd (about 8) gathered outside, around my car and the playground. They continued to eat, a few came closer to peer up at me (I was on the second floor). I tossed them some raisins and one of them had a stare down with me. Eventually I made it to my car (the elk didn’t move, but they didn’t mind) and I set off to get my all-important pizza dinner. On the way I saw a male with a huuuuge rack. As I slowed down to take a picture, he started walking towards my car, passing about 5 inches behind it. I’ve been watching them all night, as they are all over the hotel area.

As you can see, I’m enjoying my time in Colorado so far! I’m staying in Estes Park, a touristy town right outside the entrance to the national park. I arrived earlier than expected and was able to get a few hikes in. A wonderful park ranger recommended a few hikes for today and tomorrow that would get me away from the crowds because of how challenging they are. The Rocky Mountain National Park is almost as busy as Zion, yay spring break season! Today I hiked about 6 miles, hiking up a mountain side to a river, on a snow covered and closed road, and on a deer trail to a vibrant creek. The landscape was amazing: flowing water, variety of stones, tall pine trees, soaring peaks, and grassy meadows.

During my hike up the mountain I veered off trail to check out the view. I snapped some photos, accidentally dropping my phone off a giant rock. I watched as it bounced off one rock onto another, onto another, stopping about 30 feet away. Now, I don’t have a case or screen protector on it because they both broke (I live an active lifestyle, okay!), so I was nervous to pick it up. Much to my surprise, aside from a tiny piece of glass missing from a drop in Death Valley, there wasn’t even a scratch! This is when I plug the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active. I bought this phone with hiking and falling in mind, as it is supposed to be one of the toughest on the market. It has gone above and beyond my expectations, surviving falls that would shatter any other screen. Seriously, perfect for me.

Anyhow, I recovered the phone and turned to continue my hike upwards. Right as I stepped down, a tree fell about 100 feet away in the direction I was headed. We still don’t know if a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one to hear it, if it makes a sound, because I heard that and I almost jumped out of my skin. That, my friends, is called a sign. Mother Nature told me to get back on the trail or risk getting hit by a tree, so back to the trail I went. The rest of the hike was lovely, and I abandoned the trail again to walk alongside the river. It was quite peaceful and a wonderful place to look for cool rocks.

I love this area already, especially since it’s covered in elk. Although Estes Park is 7500 feet above sea level, it is still nice and warm at about 60-75 degrees during the day. The further I hiked up the mountain the cooler it got, and the more snow there was (there’s no snow in Estes Park). It’s a fun climate since it can change a lot just by hiking. Tomorrow I’ll do many more miles of hiking in the park, more stories to come!

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