The goal was a nice morning, a good start to the day ahead of us before we headed down to the Garden of the Gods and ended the day in the San Juan Mountains. To that end, we didn’t push ourselves to wake up before the sun, knowing the lake would probably be filled with many a photographer hoping to catch that beautiful early morning light. We packed up the car just a little after 630am, checked out of the hotel we were staying at in Estes Park (which I highly recommend as your home base if your going to be spending time in Rocky Mountain NP) and headed on up into the park at a leisurely pace.
A couple of wild animal crossings later, we made it to the parking lot of Bear Lake, which just two days prior we had driven to just a little before midday and found absolutely packed. That morning however, only a few cars remained. We slipped (and I do very much mean slipped, neither one of us had the forethought to pack yak trax and the short trail was covered with snow that had iced over) our way out to the lake and found it completely frozen over and beautifully quiet. It was cold, the sun still making it’s way up and our hands stupidly bare and freezing, but it was so incredibly beautiful to the point that it made us forget the discomfort.
Only two people remained, both slipping their way back towards the parking lot by the time we started to make out way around the lake, leaving us with the place all to ourselves. Neither the bf or I had ever seen a completely frozen over lake before, never mind actually walk out on the surface of one, so the whole experience was full of adventure and discovery. Somehow neither one of us actually fell, though we came close a couple of times, and we ended up sitting on some rocks jutting out near the edges of the lake, watching the light come up.
It was very cold, very quiet and above all, incredibly breathtaking.