I had a nicely-timed rest week before a big trip to Indianapolis for racing, so I decided Whitney and I would go camp up in RMNP. Regardless of what she thought. So the week before, I rode up to Estes Park to procure a backcountry permit, and to actually talk to the people at the Backcountry Office about what sites are still snowed in, what conditions the trails are in after the flooding, etc. It’s strange, but pleasantly old-school, that not all that information is available on the RoMo site. You can definitely look at maps and sites and restrictions and rules and trails and all that jazz, but the real-time conditions on snowmelt, as well as the backcountry site reservations/vacancies, are only available inside the small office. I rode out there, talked to a lady ranger who helped me figure out where to go, and to Wild Basin we went the next week.
We saw marmots, gray jays, black squirrels, chipmunks, deer, and a few rare human sightings. More awesomely, after seeing their footprints all winter crisscrossing the Rockies, I finally laid eyes on the elusive snowshoe hare. Their back feet are gigantic. Also, I saw a pine marten for the first time ever. Cute weasel guy, who’d just as soon gnaw on my arm if given the chance.
As for the fishing, well, Thunder Lake was almost completely frozen over, and Ouzel Lake wasn’t biting. So I didn’t catch a thing, and didn’t even have Whit try her hand at casting the fly rod like I’d hoped. She didn’t care too much, as she had made three new fluffy rodent friends.