We expected to need to be to the trailhead early to get parking as well as to get an early start on the hike to allow time and avoid potential afternoon storms. We mostly succeeded, even though a construction zone took a slight toll. We still got to the trailhead early enough to nab one of the parking spots without having to get creative or risky with where we left the car. After getting packed up and applying sunscreen (very important) we started up Ida about 7:25, early enough to still see the steam rising over Poudre Lake at the trailhead. The ascent took about 3 hours and we got to the summit at 10:20. It was not as windy as our last attempt, but we were still happy to have warm coats and gloves. We mostly adhered to good mountain climbing practices and didn’t stop much on the way up except a few brief pauses for pictures that might not be available on the return such as the elk.
We lingered at the top long enough to eat lunch and take in the view, but it was somewhat crowded, being where everyone stops to do the same, and windy so there’s not exactly a huge reason to stay around. The descent was more relaxed with a few more photo stops and relaxation breaks including about 15 minutes photographing a ptarmigan (We finally saw one for real, rather than just me naming every unknown bird a ptarmigan!) and chicks. We returned to the trailhead at about 1:55; just at the right moment to briefly spot a moose dart across the trail on its way from the lake up into the valley.
I was a little burned out from the sun (didn’t have sunglasses, bad plan) and we ended up driving out of the park on the Grand Lake side. By we, I mean Janet drove and I had a headache so I semi-successfully took a nap. As it turned out, that wasn’t the direction we wanted to go and there wasn’t really anything interesting there, so we drove back through RMNP to Estes Park. Our lack of a plan was somewhat evident here, we had gotten to the first waypoint of the trip but weren’t really sure what our full itinerary was going to be yet.
We did happen upon a herd of bighorn sheep maybe 100 yards off the road on the way back through the park shortly after the Alpine Visitor Center and stopped for a bit to watch them.
We attempted to get a room again at the Estes Mountain Lodge, but they were sold out except for some suite costing >$150. We ended up finding vacancy at the Peak to Peak Lodge. It was a little further out of town, or at least out of the touristy part of town, but that didn’t matter much.
We took a quick walk through the touristy strip of Estes Park, mostly considering whether to stop for pizza, but decided it would be too much sitting and beer after the hike and we would be extremely non-energetic afterward. Instead, we headed out to the hotel to make some dinner and do a little more planning, at least figuring out a few days in advance.