Map Master and I had so much fun the week before (racing to Mills Lake), we decided to hike Rocky Mountain National Park again.
On Friday, September 26th we headed up the trail to Fern Lake. Just one week later, the aspens were still an incredible golden color.
The Big Thompson River was roaring.
At the trail split, we met up with some campers who told us that, although Fern Lake is beautiful, we would not see aspen trees along the trail. They suggested, instead, that we hike the trail to Cub Lake. Initially, the trail to Cub Lake was steep and muddy, but leveled out through some aspen groves.
Cub Lake is surrounded by thick timber and backs up to Stones Peak. The surface of the lake was clear and ringed with yellow pond lily.
Yellow pond lily floating in the shape of a LARGE Donut! “Map Master — are you hungry?”
Beyond Cub Lake, we hiked through an extensive forest of pine, spruce, aspens and ferns. About a half mile from the Cub Lake trailhead we arrived at Moraine Park — a vast meadow where large elk herds congregate for their annual rut (a spectacular ritual where dominant bulls battle for mating rights). We were not disappointed. We counted 16 elk in all — one bull (a stag), six cows (hinds), and nine calves.
And then — the bull turned to the open space in the meadow (where another bull was trying to invade the herd) …..
….. and he bugled. I had never heard an elk bugle “in person.” It was LOUD and beautiful!!!
Side Note: You may or may not remember that in March of 2013, Map Master and I happened upon a herd with about 20 elk and we tried to join their herd. As we got closer — they backed away. We saw the bull, and had we continued forward, I’m sure he would have bugled us back.
We watched the herd for awhile (more bugling from the bull) before heading back down the trail.
Wow! That was extraordinary!
We only managed 6.25 miles that day, but it was still a good workout. So — um — did someone say Donuts?!?!?