Rocky Mountain National Park is such an amazing place!
This year, we decided to go to Rocky Mountain National Park for Labor Day weekend. When we arrived there on Saturday morning, we were shocked by the traffic!
Of course there is traffic jam! It is Labor Day weekend…. :’D
We stuck in traffic for one hour to enter the National Park, then another 30 minutes in traffic. We have to go somewhere few people would go to avoid the crowd, and enjoy the unique high altitude of Rocky Mountain National Park!
We found a gem! It is Mt. Chiquita!
Most tourists went to Alpine Visitor Center and took a short hike with a huge crowd. We choose a quiet hike to Mt. Chiquita and only saw 4 people during the whole hike. We saw more big horn sheep than people 😀
We parked our car at Chapin Creek Trailhead, then hiked up. There were only 2 cars when we arrived though we drove in slow traffic on Old River Trail Road to the trailhead. Few tourists made this stop even though the one way route was jammed.
For people from Washington state like us, the parking lot elevation (11,040 ft) was already very high! The high elevation definitely took a toll on my physical strength. The hike was only 5 miles round trip, but I felt out of breath all the time.
After we went out of the woods, we saw open fields with mountains and wild flowers. You can see where you are heading all the way which is totally different experience from hiking in the woods.
In the last one mile, grass land disappeared. There were only rocks (no wonder it is called “Rocky Mountain” National Park 😀 ). I was careful when walking on those rocks. It was not an easy hike since rocks move when you step on them. I was worried that I might spring my ankle so I walked slowly with mindful steps.
It was about 5pm. We knew the sun set was around 6:30. My “thoughtful” husband complained I walked too slow, so he went ahead and took quick steps up. We did not communicate well. He thought I was not going up so he would go for a quick visit himself while I would start to go back.
But I wanted to go up as much as I could.
Five minutes after he left, I realized it was a really bad idea to have us separated. What if something happened? Even though I could see the huge crowd walking like ants faraway across the mountain top at the visitor center, there was nobody here on the trail.
Then you know what? When I was hiking up slowly like a breathless dog, my phone started beep and told me it got notifications! I suddenly realized T-Mobile has reception here at 12983 ft elevation!
It was a huge relief to me since I knew if something went wrong, I could call 911. No kidding! There was no other people on the hill! At least I did not see any!
Like most people would do, I stopped by and posted my images on social media and brag about where I was and what I was doing LOL!
At the same time, I thought I should leave a trace in case something happened to me then people would know where I was.
Around 6:10 pm, I realized that I had to go down since I need sometime to hike back to our car. Too sad I did not reach the top but I had to head back. I followed the stone marks and went down exactly the same way till the open valley.
I didn’t see my husband.
I was worried since I could see the entire wide valley. Then I saw two girls hiking up. I went and asked them if they had seen a guy with baby blue jacket. They said he went passed them at least 15 minutes ago. Thank Lord these girls were angels to me. So I took time hiking down and taking beautiful pictures along the way.
When I about to reach the parking lot, it was about dusk. My worried husband found me. He was extremely worried and was waiting there for it to turn dark, then he will have to drive away since there was no reception for him to call 911.
Lesson learned, we should stay together when hiking in the mountain.
All Trails rank this hike as “strenuous”. But if you give yourself enough time to slowly adjust your breath on the way up, it is not that bad. After all, it is only 5 miles roundtrip. After I returned to the hotel, I checked my GPS app and realized I would need another 30 minutes to reach the top. Too bad I did not have that luxury time to finish the hike 😦
This is the highlight of our trip to Denver since in Washington state, there is no way for us to hike that high without having an ice axe and mountaineering training. I highly recommend this hike 😀
Thank you for reading!