Braving Bear Lake to Grand Lake

The infamous Bear Lake to Grand Lake hike has been on our list for years, but we never had the logistics in order to do it. This time, we had the 3 cars and interested parties on board to take on the hike across Rocky Mountain National Park with the Beintums and John, from near Estes Park to Grand Lake. Bear Lake is a really popular area to hike, and many people hike the 4.5 miles up to Flattop Mountain on the Continental Divide, and then back down, but whenever we have a way to do a one-way hike, we are all in. This would not be easy, as crossing this trail to the North Inlet Trail would be over 18 miles.

We left Snow Mountain early to drive to the top of Trail Ridge Road and across to the Bear Lake shuttle area. On the bus to Bear Lake, Kristin realized she left her phone in the outhouse and had to go back.

The rest of us hung at the trailhead while Kristin hitched a ride back for her phone. While it was a later start than we had hoped, we were on the trail in no time.

The first 4.5 miles was a quick ascent, but the kids flew right up the mountains.

Before we knew it, we were above treeline. Up top, we ran into mule deer, marmots, wildflowers, and snow.

We took a quick stop on top for lunch, and the kids were ready to go. The adults were definitely in worse shape than the adults, but we followed their lead.

Kristin and I had to race down to keep pace with the super six, and Chuck kept the girls out front.

After all the effort to go get Kristin’s phone, it ended up cracking on the way down anyway after a short fall. Her phone was just not meant to make it through the day!

Further down, we all regrouped at a bridge after crossing paths with a ranger taking care of a girl who had ended up with severe altitude sickness. They attempted to revive her, land a helicopter, etc, and ended up having to hike a rescue team in to take her out on a stretcher. She was on a youth group trip with total strangers, and we ran into her mom and dad back at the trailhead who were so worried about her! It is a reminder that the mountains are nothing to mess around with. We were quite fortunate to get our group up and over with few issues.

We made another quick stop at the falls on the way down while the guys attempted to get ahead. We caught them quickly with these amazing little hikers.

Our group walked right into downtown Grand Lake for ice cream while the guys drove John’s car up Trail Ridge Road to get the other two cars.

Kristin and I were amazed again with the energy of these kids on the beach while we waited for our ride.

Just as the sun set and dusk set in, the guys made it down with our rides back to the campground at Snow Mountain. Maybe an annual hike?! We shall see 😉

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