This was the first hike (of hopefully many) that we ever set the alarm early enough to where we could eat breakfast, get to the trailhead and reach our destination by sunrise. It was our first full day there, and we were excited about getting out and seeing the beauty of these mountains again. We were raring to go. Well. . ..not quite raring, because by the time we ate and got to Bear Lake to head up, it was 5:30am. I was so afraid we were going to miss sunrise because we didn't really know how long it would take to get there since we'd never been that route before. All I knew was that reaching Bierstadt the other way (from the Bierstadt trailhead), was a very steep, winding hike, and if this way was anything like that, we would have to RUN to make it. It was pitch black dark of course, which made it a little harder to run -- but we really did go at a break neck pace -- for us anyway. As we reached the top, and I could see light breaking through, I picked up the pace even more until I pretty much was in fact running at the very end. We made it in a little over 1/2 an hour, which for us was amazing.
It was so incredibly beautiful!! And quiet!!! We could hear the peddling of little ducks heading our way to check out who their company for the morning was. We actually had to wait about 15 or 20 minutes for true sunrise, so we just basked in the breaking dawn, and the reality that we had left 100 degree heat behind us in Texas, and were now enjoying crisp, cold mountain air in the 40's. It was Heaven. Unfortunately, we didn't get one of those dramatic, colorful cloudy sunrises -- in fact there were no clouds at all -- and that was kind of a disappointment, but we weren't disappointed in how the breaking sun lit up the mountains in beautiful colors of golds and reds. Or how the lake made such an impressive mirror for the mountains & forests surrounding it. It was a PERFECT way to get acclimated, and realize: "We're here, and this is even more gorgeous than we remembered it" We could actually feel God smiling on us as he shared His creation with us!
Then, the coolest gift of our hiking experiences occurred when we looked across the lake and saw this beautiful moose amble out into the water for a leisurely breakfast. On the East side!!! At the elevation of Bierstadt! We couldn't believe it, and felt sure that God put her there just for us :) She was on the other side of the lake, so we went back into the trees and headed over to where she was. When we came out of the trees to the edge of the lake again, she was right there. So close we could hear her slurping and swallowing her grass. We sat there and watched her for about an hour. She'd look up at us every so often, but didn't seem the least bit concerned. We must have been close enough to her that she could sense our feelings of "The whole world is wonderful and as it should be" because we felt she was pretty much posing for us. She would even walk closer toward us as she tried to find the best spots to eat. Finally, it was time to head back. We went back the "other way" so that we would end up at the Bierstadt trailhead and take the shuttle back to our car at Bear Lake. THAT is the way to do this hike!!! The ascend from Bear is very easy. And the descend -- all downhill -- reveals vista after vista of the most majestic mountain scenery you could EVER hope to see in the Rockies. Yep. This was a MOST awesome way to be welcomed back to our annual visit to the Rockies!!!!!!