Six exams, 58 hours of work and 12 hours on the road makes for quite a long week.  My stress level was off the charts , and Dustin was simply too tired to be stressed.  Since we have been here, I don’t think Dustin has once questioned our move.  However, this week he received his first full paycheck.  Frustration and disappointment washed over his face as he pulled the check out of the envelope.  This check for 58 hours was equivalent to a 40 hour check at home.  My heart sank as I saw his expression; Dustin left a great job so I could pursue my dream.  Did I get a great guy or what?

Disappointment seemed fleeting once yesterday rolled around.  Sunday, our one day together, is met each week with excitement and exhaustion.  However, we always give way to the excitement and make Sundays our fundays.  This Sunday was no exception.

Driving through the Big Thompson Canyon still elicits ohs and ahs from both of us.  Each time we drive through the canyon it seems to have changed and exposes new treasures to us.  However, one constant for us in this particular canyon is Big Horn Sheep.  I do not know why we are so lucky, but they grace us with their presence each time.  Yesterday, they licked the road,  not phased by their audience.  Perhaps it was the minerals on the road that held them transfixed to the pavement. 

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After gandering at the Big Horns we continued on into Estes Park.  Our first stop was Estes Park Mountain Shop.  We needed to rent some snow shoes and hiking poles, and oh yeah see if they had a battery charger.  In our rush to get out the house, we forgot to check the camera battery.  Of course, it was dead, hence few pictures of the Big Horns.  Alas, they did not have a battery charger, but did have everything else we needed.  We stocked up and headed to Radio Shack which indeed had a camera charger for $50.00.  They had us by the balls, so we caved and bought it.  It proved to be a wise $50.00 spent…

Upon recommendation from one of the Mountain Shop employees we decided to do a quick snowshoe from the Glacier Gorge Trail Head to Loch Vale Lake.  Dustin and I already had a late start, and wanted a hike we could do in the few hours of daylight we had left (we slept in a bit, searched for a map and had to turn around to retrieve our RMNP annual pass).  The gates to RMNP were busy, but we flew through with a quick swipe of our card.  Icy, snowy, slushy roads were the standard conditions on Sunday, but we had no problem in Dustin’s trusty steed. 

As we descended a hill, we noticed a car pulled off the side of the road, and a camera sticking out the window.  In Rocky that means one thing, there must be wildlife near.  We joined them and got some great shots…

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Bull Elk passing the time on a dreary February afternoon

Is there anything cooler than watching wildlife play?  We could have turned around and headed home at that point, a good day already in tow.  However, we continued on to Loch Vale for some more RMNP goodness.


Nearly buried signs due to the snow depth IMG_3580


Loch Vale Lake makes you work for it’s reward – after all that was the theme of our week!  Dustin lagged back to get shots of me going up the hill.  Pretty cool.

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Of course the lake was frozen; there were a few spots where we could see flowing water under at least 2 feet of snow and ice.  Once at the lake, the wind became relentless and the snow flew at quite a clip.  If you click on the photo of Dustin and I, you can see just how crazy the conditions were.

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Naturally, coming down is much easier than the ascent.  Either up or down, it was a fantastic day.  In an effort to bid us a wonderful goodbye, RMNP gave us more treats on the way home.

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Elk wandering through downtown Estes makes me giggle.  They are just part of the Estes life.


Of course, a fitting sunset on a magnificent day.IMG_3651


Summer shall bring a completely different trail and view of Loch Vale Lake.  The sheer magnitude of the snow blew our minds.  With a base of 64” at headquarters, the depth of the snow at higher elevations is even deeper.  I cannot even conceive in my mind close to 6’ of snow.  Part of the trail we traveled will actually be a creek in the spring and summer.  A creek I am looking forward to seeing in its unfrozen state.  Mindblowing, the only word I can think of when I try to verbally assess nature.


Written by Stephanie Mullins



Awesome photos, Stephanie! Love the sheep, elk, and deer! And the pictures going up that hill are cool! What a great place to get outdoors!


Just added RMNP park to my mental list of places to visit. I imagine it would be "mindblowing" to see all of that in one day. Very cool.

Midge Man

Glad you two were able to get out and away! Places like the park can put your soul back in place and winter is wonderful up there. "Wait until you see summer and the wild flowers!" Oh, and those sheep cleaning up the road are treating it as a salt lick. Ice melt and rock salt must agree with them. Stay warm! Spring will get here….


What everyone else said. Great photos and a terrific day. Thanks for taking me along! Come on Spring…these folks need to see how beautiful you are.


Isn't an energetic hike reviving? and then add the gift of seeing wildlife and getting the perfect shots, well, it just makes a day. You are fortunate to live in such pristine surroundings.
I came from Rick's site and so glad to have found you. Also, your names drew me as I have a Dustin married to Steph. Fun, huh? and they own Northern Archery, a shooting range, in northcentral WI. Keep the photos and stories coming…this is cool.

Stephanie and Dustin

@BJK – When you say great photos, I take that as a huge compliment. Thank you!

@Jay – Kelly and yourself must come visit RMNP. It'd be a great getaway when grad she needs a break from grad school!

@MM – We thought it must be the salt on the road that had them entertained. We can't believe how spectacular things are around here. Every time we go out it is a new adventure!

@Sowbug – We definitely want to visit again after ice out, even more so now that we know the fishing is dandy!

@Cofisher – Spring is right around the corner…now if it would just stop snowing!

@Dar – A hike really does put everything back in place. We really are lucky to live here; we love it so far. Thanks for visiting and returning!


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