Sunday, August 23, 2015

unforgettable day

Rocky Mountain National Park (Photo: C. Imes)
The gray morning crept through the valley, but we were already awake, dressed, and loading the van with muffins, cameras, and water bottles. After just minutes we showed our pass to the ranger and entered Rocky Mountain National Park. Our aim was to see more wildlife by beating the sun and the crowds. But tourist season had already sent most wildlife into hiding. Other than a few deer by the roadside and a handful of elk across a distant valley, we saw nothing but marmots. No matter how long we craned our necks at the rocky ridges, they were silent and still, yielding no life.

Rocky Mountain National Park (Photo: C. Imes)
It was a bighorn I wanted to see most, but instead our drive up Fall River Road and then Trail Ridge Road offered breathtaking vistas of peaks awash in the morning sun—the golden hues catching the rocky crags and then sliding slowly like honey until the brilliance was everywhere. Vibrant greens, patches of last winter's snow, stunning blue lakes and skies, boulders in browns and reds and white, tiny flowers clinging to fragile tundra—it was nothing short of majestic.

Three hours later we finally emerged from the park and entered a day filled with other activities—a high-ropes adventure course, fishing, a meal, race cars, and bumper boats.

But no tourist activity could match the bookends of our day. After dinner we headed up again, this time with blankets, and drove back into the park as the gray shroud descended again and light drained from the sky. We could see just well enough to lay our blankets in the meadow beside the parking area and settle in for a spectacular show.

Rocky Mountain National Park
(Photo: Kristin Camfferman)
Our eyes adjusted to the gathering darkness. We talked and laughed freely, not wanting any wild visitors to join us. The stars began to make their appearance. When it was truly dark we gasped as the first streak of light sliced the sky above us. Then another. And another.

The dark canvas stretched impressively from horizon to horizon. Without city lights we saw thousands of stars—even the milky way. It was the perfect backdrop for a meteor shower that sovereignly collided with our mountain vacation. In that one night I saw more "shooting stars" than in all my 38 years put together. Some were faint and short. One fireball tore a path across the entire northwestern edge of the sky, leaving a long trail.

We had seen at least a dozen when the chill set in our bones and the ache in my back told me it was enough. A brilliant bookend to an unforgettable day.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a perfect day, except of course for the big horn, and beautifully written.