ESTES PARK, Colorado, July 18, 2011—The pond lilies scattered across Cub Lake, temporarily blocking the reflection of the snow-capped mountains. Right in the middle of the still water, an emerald circle of leaves outlined a patch of blue. If I didn’t know how cold the mountain water was, I would have wanted to jump right into the center of that circle.
Here, on the eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, the day’s hike may have gotten me a little heated in the summer sun, but a chilly swim might have given me a little too much refreshment.
The Walter Tishma Way isn’t one trail, but a series of trails in the National Park that form a four-day, inn-to-inn hike for those who want to get close to nature, but may prefer to enjoy a comfortable bed at the end of each long day. Created by David and Phebe Novic, the trek was named after an elderly Estes Park resident who has climbed Longs Peak (the highest peak in the park) more than 100 times.
“I love how on the first night, everyone’s energy is high and they’re chatting away,” said Phebe Novic, who accompanied me and three other women on our trip. “The second night is different. Elbows are on the table, and people are nodding off into their dinner.”
I vowed, at least, to reserve falling asleep until after dinner. Even though we hiked between 7-10 miles each day, the difficulty ranged from “moderate” to “more difficult.” The most challenging days were smack in the middle of the four-day trip.
On those difficult days, the vast views from Storm Pass and Twin Sisters made me forget how heavy my daypack was and that I needed to pause a few times to catch my breath. Lunch atop an outcrop of rocks with a mountain range lined up in front of me seemed to be the ideal place to be, even if it took some effort to get there.
When you consider that my luggage was moved from inn to inn for me, and all I really needed for the day was what I could carry in my daypack, it made it even more enjoyable. By the time each day’s hiking was done, I could relax with a beer, a tasty dinner and a warm bed—and be fresh for the next day’s hike.
I never did fall asleep during dinner.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill and her husband are avid kayakers and own Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
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