Over the mountains to Wyoming

As we left Boulder yesterday morning, several cyclists and climbers were also getting away. I had hoped to see Boulder Canyon Falls but they were closed due to a high risk of rockfall. Instead we had a break at Barker Lake in Nederland where I watched fish jumping and swallows diving for insects as it was too windy for flower photography. The plentiful insects also fed on me. Ducks were feeding with their ducklings and another bird on the water was too far away to identify even with binoculars. We had coffee in the hippyesque Happy Trails Café and relaxed on the comfortable seating there. It has the first restroom I have been in which has a skeleton lounging in a bath and a moose toilet roll holder.
View 2 Peak to Peak Highway 8 July 2016-1
We continued on the Peak to Peak Highway and just north of Raymond had the first emergency braking for a moose running across the road. Something akin to the Elk Test that Scandinavian car manufacturers put their vehicles through.  Twelve years ago in Victoria, Australia I had the iconic Australian experience of a kangaroo jumping over the fence and across the freeway in front of me.
As we approached Estes Park the traffic got heavier and the Chapel on the Rock near Camp St Malo was also busy with visitors. The wind had brought clouds in and very soon we had a thunderstorm. We spent the night in Estes Park to be ready for an early start in the Rocky Mountains National Park this morning. I had read all sorts of horror stories in guide books and the Park’s website about heavy traffic in the high season but we were treated to a fairly quiet run on the Trail Ridge Road – the USA’s highest continuous paved road. Its highest point is around 3,500m. I had not been at such alpine altitudes and seen glaciers since my trip to the Himalaya in 2010.
Trail Ridge Road 1 9 July 2016-1
Glacier 2 9 July 2016-1
Glacier 9 July 2016-1
We saw some wildlife; several elk, a raven and had a close encounter with a Yellow-Bellied Marmot. The road goes over the Milner Pass and crosses the Continental Divide. This zig-zags around in these parts and we crossed it later and will do again in Wyoming. We walked a small section of the Colorado Trail in the shade of the forest as it was starting to get hot and then descended into Grand Lake for coffee. The grass was growing around the snowmobiles here and boating was the big activity. Heading south to just outside Granby, we were back with the railway briefly and for once saw a passenger train. R125 passes into ranching country and heads north alongside the Willow Creek and through the Arapahoe National Forest where like elsewhere in Colorado, they have lost a lot of trees to a beetle infestation.
Continental Divide 9 July 2016-1
We crossed the Continental Divide again over the Willow Creek Pass and descending, could see the smoke of fires behind the north end of the Gore Range off to our left. Heading towards Laramie, the road winds through small communities in the Medicine Bow Mountains where the town hall is a hut and on into the town where we will rejoin the Lincoln Highway tomorrow.

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