. 5am Mountain Time. I remembered to set the alarm.
. I can see the outlines of mountains and behind me the sky is starting to shift into dawn. There is a heavy fog over Estes Park and I feel a bit nervous out here alone.
. At 6:30am no one is at the entrance fee station. I drive into Rocky Mountain National Park.
. I turn onto Bear Lake Rd and there is enough light now to see the meadows of Moraine. Fog over everything.
. Into the pines. Two elk bulls are sparring in an open field next to the road. I pull over to watch and cannot believe I am seeing this.
. Nymph Lake. Dream Lake. Emerald Lake. A handful of people. I take photos for others but decline to have my picture taken. A chipmunk runs over my legs and a bird hops over to me. It’s my trailmix they’re after.
. At 12000 elevation the air is so dry that my lip splits and my eyes feel raw.
. Continental Divide. Colorado River. Aspens turned gold.
. I’m looking for a place to picnic but a woman starts waving at me to hurry up the trail. A mom moose and a baby moose are in the river, dining on shrubs. They do not seem bothered by our presence. I feel like I’m going to cry.
. More elk. Marmots. Turkeys.
. The early morning, the high elevation, the sun, and 8 miles of hiking, have exhausted me. I don’t want to leave, but I’m out of water and borderline delirious. I talk to myself on the drive back to Boulder.
. Colorado lager.