Monday morning came early, as it usually does when you're camping. Our neighbors this morning appeared to be a pair of grandparents and a couple of grandsons. Nice enough people. We still weren't sure whether we'd do Trail Ridge Road and hit a mountaintop or two, or go to the Bear Lake area.
If you don't get to the Bear Lake Parking Lot by 9:00am during tourist season, you probably won't be parking there. You'll probably have to go back and do "Park and Ride". We were pushing that time, but the rain was keeping the hikers down.
Alberta falls is only about a mile from Bear Lake. We actually didn't even stop at Bear Lake ... figured we'd do it on the way back. It's right at the trailhead. This time I knew that the first encounter with the river wasn't the falls itself, though if you didn't know you could mistake it for your destination. It looks "fall-ey" enough.
Literally, at first. It turns out that the trail brushes the falls on kind of a switchback, so if you climbed up to the top of the falls, you aren't really on the trail anymore. You're maybe 50 yards down a forest slope from it. But the GPS told the story, and we went and found it and hiked on.
Mills lake is only about 500 or 600 feet above the trailhead, but you drop at least 200 feet on the trail before you start going up. So for kids who aren't used to mountain hiking and they're on their second day above 1,000 feet back in Kansas City, it's not the proverbial walk in the park. (Well, I guess technically it is.) But we were in no real hurry.
Back to the site for a fire, s'mores, a Mark Ghost Story, couple beers. Cassie went to bed early, but Mark, Nathanial, and I stayed up and watched the stars come out. I pointed out the arc of the planets. We found the Big Dipper and a few other constellations. Nathanial spotted a couple of man-made sattelites. And finally, the Milky Way popped out when it got dark enough.
And we turned in for the night.