Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cooper's First Hike

Nice weather, leaves changing and Jill needing to get out. Three ingredients that led us to pack up the MDX and head to Rocky Mountain National Park this morning. We grabbed the Baby Bjorn, and set off to take our cub to Cub Lake. About a 5.5 mile roundtrip hike, nothing too strenuous but it was a destination we'd never been before somehow.

First thing we noticed is that with the addition of Cooper, we're much slower to get going. Embarrassingly we didn't hit Estes Park till after 11 a.m., when we'd usually be at our destination and often on our way back down. Hitting Estes at 11 instead of 8, means the tourons were out in full force. Oh well, we're just trying to get out.

Once into the park, didn't take us long to figure out that Kathy Sabine, much like John Denver, is full of poop. Peak yellows in the northern mountains? I beg to differ. Most foliage hadn't started turning yellow, some was a mix of yellow and green but most was still very green and several weeks from peak.

From Cooper's First Hike

The trail was full of people out on a nice day, 1/2 of which offered words of encouragement about us getting the kid broken in early and the other 1/2 looking at us like we were abusing the kid. Jill and I quickly decided the 1/2 that was encouraging was likely the Colorado residents, the other half was probably out of towners. We break them in young in these parts.

Didn't take us long to stumble across some wildlife on the trail. Its elk bugling season, so you need to give them some space. Several years back we saw a massive buck destroy a tourons PT cruiser in Yellowstone while we were very close. When the elk feel you are infringing on their women, they get angry. Well the elk were angry this day my friends!

From Cooper's First Hike

A couple up in front of us warned that a bull elk was grunting at them, so they gave it some space. We cautiously passed, keeping a close eye on him but he seemed to be fine with us passing.

From Cooper's First Hike

We made it past the bull, then came across a smaller group of females a couple feet off the trail. The other couple and Jill passed through without much incident, but the momma elk in the pic below was definitely keeping tabs on everyone.

From Cooper's First Hike

I had Cooper in the Bjorn on my chest, and ushered by slowly. I got about two steps past the momma and her baby, all while watching her closely, and she took two or three steps towards me in a charging manner. Uh oh....

I stopped, turned back and prepared myself to dodge, duck or dive out of the way of the angry momma. She was trying to protect her young, but I was about to do the same thing. As I turned back, her bluff charge ended and we both continued on. We've never had any incident like this in the past, so it was pretty much expected that the first hike we'd take our 7 week old son on that we'd get threatened by an elk right?

The hike went on, turning up in elevation pretty quickly as we approached the lake. The skies were threatening a bit, but we pressed on. We had some ponchos and coats, so if the skies opened up we could keep Cooper warm and dry.

We got to the lake, found a nice rock to sit on and take in the views and then got Cooper out of the Bjorn and woke him up. He pretty much sleeps the second you put him in the Bjorn, so it was time for a diaper change and to give him a bottle. Jill did feeding duty while I ran around and snapped pics.

From Cooper's First Hike

From Cooper's First Hike

From Cooper's First Hike

After getting some pics and getting some milk down Cooper, we packed up and headed back down. Per the usual, we made quick work of the descent and hit the car just about the time the rain started up. We made our way back into Estes, grabbed some food at the Wapiti Tavern and headed back down the hill to home.

Round trip was about 5.5 miles, elevation gain showing up around 1200 feet and trail number one in the books for Cooper. It will be several years before he's ready to do backcountry camping with us, but in the meantime we'll be dragging him to all the day hikes we can find. If you're gonna be born into this family, you're gonna have to learn to love the trail.


Anonymous said...

Your blog came up in my "Estes Park" google alert today. Enjoyed your story and it sounds like it was a great day for a hike.

RMNP is so beautiful and hopefully you count your blessings for being able to live so closely. We live out of state, so I guess that makes us "tourons", though our family has owned land in Estes for over 60 years.

I do remember hiking with our babies/toddlers in backpacks or slings. It definitely makes you a little more careful than usual, doesn't it? Wildlife and weather...that type of thing.

Enjoy your proximity and know that not all non-residents are tourons :)

-- A Coloradan in my heart

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Cooper noticed your heart rate jump during your showdown with Big Mama.