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article number 84
article date 12-08-2011
copyright 2011 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Old & Gimpy, a Last Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park?
by Stu Moment

I was a newly-wed young-punk when we packed our 400cc bike and went to Rocky Mountain National Park. We road down an access road and illegally camped in a valley between two snow capped mountains. Never been to the Rockies before. It was breathtaking. It was exhilarating. We were young, broke but adventurous. My father in-law loaned us $200 and we had a Shell Oil charge card. We slept at rest stops in Missouri or Kansas … that wasn’t legal in Colorado. I welded a tall sissy bar for the bike. It held luggage, a 2 man pup tent and sleeping bags. Must have looked strange … a guy and girl on a small bike with lots of baggage, but we enjoyed it.

So, its 30 years later … now I’m old, gimpy and trying to catch up on savings so that I can retire someday. Wish I could take a trip like that again but it ain’t gonna’ happen. Bad attitude Stu! What if you die next year! The eulogy would read “Stu had a wonderful ‘let’s do it’ attitude when he was young. Sadly he died a boring person.”

Ok … let’s pull $800 out of savings, mount new tires on the bike and go! Just do it!


I forgot to replace the bolts on one side of the front fender. Near Salina Kansas I noticed the front fender shaking. Used a couple of large cable ties to hold that side of the fender.

Pulled into Estes Park, Colorado by 2 PM on the second day. Went to a couple of hotels within a few blocks of downtown to check prices. It was early September and I figured that I could get a decent price. Whata’ wimp I am … staying in a hotel. I would have camped if I had buddies with me but I wanted to find a townie bar within walking distance for evening social entertainment … and sure ‘nuf, found a sort-of townie bar … fun, good people.

Evening Walk from my hotel to the pub. Nice scenery even at night.

On the first day I decided to hike a long trail away from the mountain peaks. I wanted to be alone.


Noticed an interesting warning about mating season. Someone had warned me not to get to close to the animals. They may attack during mating season.


I’m really good at navigating but I got lost on the trail. It was early in the day so I had no fear. I enjoyed the scenery … until …

I don’t know if these are elk but they look similar to the rabid animal on the warning sign.

… I happened upon a group of animals … way to close! No cell service here. I would have been fearless when I was young, but thoughts started to go through my head. Had a friend who was getting too cozy with a married lady … until her husband came in. Trouble ensued.

No Mrs. Elk. I will not buy you a glass of wine. Quit looking at me, will you?

The first day ended nicely. Hiked 18 miles and got a really tight rump, not bad for an old guy.

Back to Estes Park for a night-cap.

The next day I decided to take the popular trails from Bear Lake. These trails have more people but I decided that, just in case I get into trouble, it would be nice to have someone to call the coroner.

Many people on the lower Bear Lake trails but that may be a good thing …
… If you trip, you could fall a long way.
Many interesting things on the trail. That is a real huge bolder … not a paper mache mockup.
A beautiful stream parallels the trail.
The lower part of the trail is well marked.
Next stop, Nymph Lake.
Breathtaking (in more than one way.) Pictures are never as good as seeing the sights in person, but will remind you to go back.
Surrounded by peaks.
The next lake along the trail was full of lily pads. Look in the water and you will spot baby trout.

I decided not to continue up the end of the trail. Need something to look forward to during a future trip.

Near the park entrance, there is a building with an interesting exhibit. There are many story board and models.
Sorry, the flash makes some of the words unreadable.

There is one advantage to becoming old and gimpy. Unlike fast hiking with friends (sometimes seems competitive for speed), you slow down and actually enjoy the scenery.

Old & Gimpy, a Last Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park? Think not. If I get that “wish I could go, but too much to do” attitude, I will ask a friend to hit me over the head with a rock until I say “Yeah, I’m going this year. Might be dead next year.” Next time I’ll make it all the way to the end of the trail.

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