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Cats Lair & Summerland Park - 9/11-13/2007
East & North Inlet Trails, Rocky Mountain National Park

We took a trip out of Colorado in order to see The Black Crowes perform at Red Rocks, which is in Morrison, CO. We figured while we were out there we would get in a couple days of camping in the Rocky Mountains. We did a 2 night trip. The first day we hiked a little over 4 miles on the East Inlet Trail and camped at the "Cat's Lair" campsite. The second day we hiked a little over 1 mile and stayed at the "Summerland Park" campsite on the North Inlet Trail. It was an incredible trip and we can't wait to go back and check out more Rocky Mountain National Park. We're hoping we can go back either in 2008 or 2009. Anyway, enjoy the pics!

The entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park near the town of Grand Lake, CO.
East Inlet Trailhead. This is where the first day's hike started.
A little less than a mile in, we stopped to take a picture of this beautiful scene. Yes, Eric got his hair cut off!
The East Inlet flows through the meadow after coming down from the mountains in the background.
Eric on a small bridge over a mountain spring coming down the rocks.
Looking up at the top of the mountain from the East Inlet Trail. It's hard to get a good idea of the size of things just from this picture, but realize that each of those trees up on that peak are probably 30 feet tall or more.
Dani looking beautiful as usual.
At somewhere around 8900 feet, we looked out over the area we had just hiked through. You're looking at the meadow (pictured above) as well as Grand Lake in the far background. The air up at this altitude was a good bit thinner than we're used to in Atlanta, so we had to take little breaks to catch our breath every 15 minutes or so. Of course, it probably didn't help that we weren't in the best shape ever.
Another shot behind us, surveying where we'd come from. Probably around 8900 feet or so.
Whew, we finally made it! Cats Lair campsite, with an elevation somewhere around 9200 feet, is about 4 miles from the trailhead. Unlike the campsites in we're used to in the Smokies, most of these campsites (including Cats Lair) do not permit campfires and you can only use stoves. In other words, the Rockies are much more flamable than the mountains back east!
With the sun fading fast, Eric quickly sets up the tent. This trip marked the debut of our as yet unused North Face Spectrum 33 tent. We've had the tent for some time, but it's usually too small to hold all of us if Josiah comes with us. For just the 2 of us, however, it was just right.

Once the sun set, the tempurature started to drop pretty fast. We both changed into some warmer clothes and Dani made some hot chai tea after a delicious spaghetti dinner. Not long after, we hit they hay.
Not long after the sun came back up, we woke up ready for breakfast. Note the luxuriously soft mulch tent bed provided by the park service. This is probably the nicest tent platform we've ever seen.
Dan glows in the morning sunlight as she gets ready to make Lasagna for breakfast! It was pretty darn cold this morning.
A morning view of our campsite.
On our way back, we took a pic of the East Inlet.
These stairs go all the way to up just about the highest point on our little hike, around 9250 feet.
Eric passes under some overhanging rock on the way back down the mountain.

Behold! That's Grand Lake way back over there. We're on our way back down to the lake.
We took a break next to a small bridge on the trail. While we were resting, a caravan of researchers and horses passed us.
A friendly little chipmunk stopped by to say hello.
We made it back to the parking lot at the trailhead! Round trip was about 8 miles.

All that hiking made us hungry so we stopped by the Fat Cat Cafe in Grand Lake. They had great food and an entertaining guitar player on hand. After lunch we shopped around town for a bit before it was time to head out again to the Norh Inlet Trail.

North Inlet Trail Head. We we're pretty beat from the previous hike the day before so we decided to take it easy and only hike 1.1 miles to Summerland Park.

Signs point the way.
We walked for a while along a road and got to check out some horses in a pasture that bordered the road.

After a little over a 1mile hike, we made it to the Summerland Park campsite. Dani rests a bit.
Looking out over the Summerland Park area.
The tent is all set up.

As night approached it got a little chilly so we started up a fire to keep toasty.
On our way out of the park, we stopped at a local ice cream parlor for some incredible milk shakes. There is sign in the window of ice cream parlor advertising manuer for sale. :)

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