On Wednesday, September 8th, we drove 155 miles from Estes Park to Grand Lake, CO. Although there was a 48-mile route available by driving through Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), the steep inclines and sharp drop-offs on this route made us decide to take an easier, although longer, path. The new route took us in a southerly direction from Estes Park to I-70 and then up the other side of the park to Grand Lake. Although the drive required lots of ascents and descents and many sharp turns, it was quite scenic and a lot less scary that a drive through RMNP would have been.
The Grand Lake area was savaged by a wildfire in October 2020 that burned 194,000-acres, making it the second-largest fire in Colorado history. In fact, it burned 120,000-acres in a single day, making it the fastest-spreading fire in Colorado history. We checked in to Winding River Resort for a one-week stay. Although the campground was now nearly 100% operational, the surrounding hills were black with debris from the fire.
Jarrod and Jess drove up from Denver late that night. Since Jess needed to work on Thursday and Friday, they stayed at a nearby hotel for the first two nights. On Thursday, Jarrod rode his bike over from the hotel. We headed to the Arapahoe National Forest and hiked the 4-mile loop trail around Monarch Lake. The trail wasn’t too taxing and was mostly shaded.
As we walked along the far side of the lake, Jan noticed a bull moose at the water’s edge. Although the trail was well above the water, we were eventually about to make out two bull moose, each with a large rack.
As we approached the end of the loop around the lake, we found a sandy beach and Jarrod was able to do some fly-fishing. Unfortunately, he was only able to get a nibble.
Jess came by for dinner, after completing her workday. The campground caters to horse owners and has their own horses for trail rides. Although most of the horses are in pens or a pasture near our site, there are a pony and a small burro who seem to have free range of the campground. The pony and burro dropped by after dinner to munch on the limited grass on our site.
On Friday morning, we relaxed and took care of domestic chores while Jarrod fished and Jess worked a half day. In the afternoon, we entered RMNP on the eastern edge of Grand Lake and hiked the East Inlet Trail. The hike was only about 2.5-miles but took us out to a spectacular valley with a panoramic view of the mountains and a stream running through it. There was a log stretched across the stream. First, Jess went part-way across but, then, Jarrod successfully got all the way across and returned without ending up in the water.
After dinner, we drove into RMNP and observed lots of elk and moose grazing near the Trail Ridge Road.
On Saturday, we drove up the western portion of RMNP’s Trail Ridge Road almost to the summit. We stopped several times along the way. We spent some time observing a female moose grazing on the grass and then did a couple of short hikes.
Later, we went into the town of Grand Lake and had ice cream at Dairy King, a small shop that’s been in business for 68 years. Next, we strolled along the main street of downtown Grand Lake and visited a number of shops. Jarrod and Jess headed for home after breakfast on Sunday.
On Saturday evening, Phil had developed the chills and his temperature rose overnight to 102.6. Very similar to his health issue in August, his temperature would lower to nearly normal in the morning but would creep back to a high fever in the afternoon and evening. Rather than wait four days to seek medical attention, as we had done in August, we decided to hit an Urgent Care on Monday. We drove 82-miles to an Urgent Care in Breckenridge, CO because Jan needed to pick up a prescription from Walgreens and the nearest Walgreens was in Dillon, 10 miles from Breckenridge. As before, Phil was tested for Covid, got a negative result and the doctor prescribed antibiotics. The highlight of the day was really the drive to and from Breckenridge. The vistas around every bend were stunningly beautiful.
After a day and a half on antibiotics, Phil’s temperature stayed below normal all day and night and he felt well enough to make the long drive to Grand Junction on Wednesday.