Monday, July 25, 2011

A Hike to Dream Lake - Summer in RMNP

The early morning was cool and breezy with the red light of dawn hitting Longs Peak. I couldn’t wait to get up closer and experience the mountains. I chose the iconic hike to Dream Lake as my destination.

Staying in the Moraine Park Campground, I got up early to catch the first Park Shuttle Bus to Bear Lake at 7:25am so that I didn’t need to park my car at the trailhead. By the time I had finished my hike, not only the Bear Lake parking area, but the huge Park and Ride at Glacier Basin were full of cars.

About 20 people poured off the Shuttle bus and dispersed to their trailheads. I crossed the wooden bridge and followed the trail sign to Dream Lake. Now, any of the thousands of people who have done this hike can tell you that this is not a wilderness experience because the trail is wide and well worn, yet it takes you right into the beauty of the mountains. I started slow to warm up and get used to breathing at 9,450 feet, and set a rhythm where I could sustain the consistent, gentle climb without being out of breath.

Views of Longs Peak and Glacier popped up as the trail curved around the mountain. It wasn’t far until the climb topped a crest to see Nymph Lake filled with water lilies and reflections of surrounding peaks. Then continuing on, I was soon next to the sounds of rushing water cascading down the mountain from Dream Lake. This is a great family hike because older kids can enjoy the challenge, and everyone has a chance to make it to the destination, only a mile from the trailhead.

This year there were still patches of snow around the lake in mid-July, and cool breezes blew down off of Hallett Peak across Dream Lake. A cloud hung out next to the peak. I found a patch of marsh marigolds in a marshy area next to melting snow. Beautiful rocks surround the lake with twisted pines growing out of them.

I hope I’ve evoked pleasant memories of Rocky Mountain National Park for those of you who’ve been among the thousands of boots and sneakers to enjoy this hike! The cool mountain air, the summer smell of pine trees, the rushing sound of mountain streams – this is paradise!

Guest blogger is Marisue Wells of and