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    Musings: Authors do it Write!



    Published 8-30-2021


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    Grand Lake

    I'll bet the first thing the early Rocky Mountain explorers said when they viewed Grand Lake near the headwaters of the majestic Colorado River with the backdrop of the Rockies framing it was, "Ain't it grand!" I had the good fortune to visit and get out on Grand Lake recently and absolutely agree.

    Native Americans considered it special long before that. They called it "Spirit Lake" because of an old legend. The Utes and Arapahos were going to war. They put their women and children on boats in the lake and a storm overturned the boats and they drowned. The Native Americans believe the spirits of those drowned people abide there.  

    A glacier formed grand Lake, which is the largest natural lake in Colorado. It's framed on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park. President Wilson established the park in 1915 to preserve the natural beauty and unique ecosystems.The lake and mountains are home to plenty of wildlife. Ospreys build nests around the lake. Eagles ventrue in sometimes.

    James, our boat captain and guide to the lake, took us from Grand Lake into man-made Shadow Lake. The homes surrounding the lakes are unique and interesting but it's the grandeur of the Rockies and the Colorado River running through it that inspires. The Colorado River was originally called the Grand River for just this reason.

    Rocky Mountain National Park

    We hiked into the Rockies to Adams Falls. For an experienced hiker, it's literally a walk in the park. I'm not an experienced hiker, but it was worth the effort. Adams Falls is small but steep, 55 feet, and feeds into Grand Lake. It is beautiful.

    Just a short distance from the falls, we reached a green meadow with a fantastic view of the mountains. It was here I had a memorable experience. We stopped for lunch and to enjoy the view. The others hiked a little farther. I stayed behind.

    As I was sitting on a fallen log in the shade enjoying the view, I heard a slight noise. Just behind me, a large deer grazed. I quietly reached for my camera and began photographing her. She gave me a wary look that seemed to say, "You can look but don't touch."

    Kawuneeche Visitor Center is the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. After getting our admission and visiting the museum that tells a lot about the Rockies, we drove Trail Ridge Road, AKA "highway to the sky." Constructed in 1931, it spans 48 miles between Grand Lake and Estes, the east entrance.
     

    The United States gained the land here with the Louisiana Purchase. In 1862, they enticed settlers with the homestead act, which gave them free land if they settled and farmed it.

    German immigrants John and Sophia Holzwarth took advantage of the offer. They journeyed west and settled on 160 acres along the banks of the Colorado River in the Kawuneeche Valley in 1917. They began with a simple one-room cabin, but eventually added more cabins and became one of the nation's first dude ranches. Their guests came mainly for the fly-fishing in the Colorado River, which flows along the ranch.

    Holzwarth Historic Site today still has many of the original cabins. We could only view most from the outside, but one is open, showing the various ways people worked in the Rockies then.

    One of the most moving experiences of our ride was a stop at the Continental Divide. It runs from Alaska into Central America. This is literally the high point of our continent. The Continental Divide is where the waters that form all of our rivers and streams begin. Waters on the east flow into the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. Waters on the west side flow into the Pacific.

    The National Continental Divide Trail runs the length of the Continental Divide within the United States. My hat is off to hikers that can traverse the 3,100 miles of it across the United States.

    Continuing up Trail Ridge Road, we reached the highest elevation visitor center in the National Park System, Alpine Visitor Center. It sits at 11,796 feet. As I stood looking from the overlook, I saw patches of snow. Snow in August! My Deep-South brain could hardly believe my eyes.

    The overlook view is fantastic, but if you want to get closer to Heaven, there is a short stretch of rugged mountain peak with a set of steps that takes you even higher.

    The center has a well-done museum that explains how wildlife and plants survive at this altitude. There is a restaurant and plenty of parking. The number of RV's, both motor homes and travel trailers, that made the trip to this height surprised me.

    This is nature at its peak. You really feel like you are at the top of the world in the Colorado Rockies.
     
     

    For more info: https://www.visitgrandcounty.com/



     
     


     

     

     

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