The Temperamental National Park I Love

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I wake up with a sharp headache, didn’t drink enough water before bed. I had a vodka and root beer the night before, and the sugar was an overload.

Drinking plenty of water, I toasted a bagel and tried to eat it with some coffee. Instead I napped for a bit, trying to decompress before my day trip.

I leave and feel better on the drive from Loveland, up the mountains, through Estes Park and into Rocky Mountain National Park.

Arriving, my high hopes are dashed by a road sign:

BEAR LAKE ROAD RESTRICTED ACCESS

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From the trail.

Fuck. I’m headed up that road for the hike to Emerald Lake, a destination that has eluded me since I first started coming here around five years ago.

The waiting lot is full and the chances of getting in on time nil. I turn around and drive after looking for another trail on the map. I skip over Beaver Meadows because that’s where I hiked with my brother last time I was here, and drive up Trail Ridge Road. I go high up and catch a view. Blue jays and colorful insects fly around the people who compare it to the only other national park they’ve been to. Then I drive down to the Deer Mountain trail, where I begin my hike.

It is pretty out, the green trees are triumphant in the spots of Sun that shine through the scattered clouds. The rocks are grey, almost blue, and the yellow leaves and dry spots recall of the West and contrast with the boulders.

I try to smoke weed, but the gusts are frequent. There is a fallen tree, and I follow the trail above it. The views are beautiful and the colors change with the undulating clouds.

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The fallen tree that led to getting off-trail.

The slashing wind bends the trees away from the mountain, and I push on. I hike for a while before coming to a a dense forest covered by black barbed wire. Realizing I am off the trail, I turn around. When I think I am finally going the right way back to the trail head, it comes to my attention that I am going back up towards the summit.

20180919_122327 (2)Disoriented, I find my way to by using a tributary path that connected to the trail further down the mountain. Making it to my car, I am content by nature’s demand that you acquiesce to its patterns and irregularities. You must go with its flow.

It is a reminder that you can’t always get everything you want when you’re traveling, and especially when you are the will of the wild.

 

I eat some food in Estes Park and it begins to rain.

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