Category Archives: RMNP Gear & Techniques

We Needed Hiking Sticks On Cub Lake Trail In RMNP After The Snow



We hiked up to Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park the other day on the spur of the moment. We figured we’d go as far as we could and then we’d turn around, depending on how deep the snow was or how slippery it got on the trail.

It was a gorgeous hike up, as we were the first to break trail that particular day after it had snowed a few inches. The going up was fine but coming down it was a bit slippery in places. So we picked up two sticks on the side of the trail and used them as hiking sticks. What a difference that made! That extra “leg” makes all the difference in the world.

When we got down to the flat meadows again, we put them on the side of the trail for someone else in need.

It was a great hike and I am so glad we decided to hike all the way up to Cub Lake. It was just gorgeous!

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Enjoy Estes Park Audio Podcast Network Has Been Launched For Estes Park And RMNP!



Enjoy Estes Park recently launched “The Estes Park & Rocky Mountain National Park Audio Podcast Network.”  The Audio Podcast Network currently has 45 Channels (growing each day) and 13,000+ listeners.  Over 400+ shows have been scheduled for production. You can listen to the Podcast Network with your computer, cell phone and tablet. There are many great Estes Park & RMNP experiences available that you don’t know about or will miss and the Podcast Network brings that information directly to you.  All podcasts and music are professionally produced in a recording studio.

Podcast Topics include (this is a small sampling):
• Rocky Mountain National Park: wildlife, fishing, hiking, wildflowers, butterflies, birds, photography, trails, camping, gear, driving tours & more.
• Estes Park Business Tours on-site: Retail, Dining, Health, Lodging & Service.
• Art Tours: Visual & Literary Arts interviews with art galleries, artists (painters, sculptors, potters, etc.), authors & more.
• Museum Tours: Art collections, exhibits & more.
• Rocky Mountain National Park: Outdoor Adventure & Adventure Guides.
• Podcast Cafe’ Music: Interviews and live performances with Estes Park musicians (Cowboy Brad, etc.).
• Estes Park History: Historical tours, talks from the past, interviews, on-site historical topics, etc.
• Business: How to get ahead in business. Business advice & help.
• Rocky Mountain National Park 100th Year: Interviews with people associated with RMNP regarding the celebration.
• Inspirational, Health & Wellness: Professionals talk about subjects that will help you enjoy life to its fullness.
• Beat On The Street: Live audio & video interviews.
• The Week Ahead: Every Friday, you can listen to “The Week Ahead” to learn about what is going on for the week ahead in Estes Park & RMNP.
• Share Podcasts: You can share all the podcasts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
• And a whole lot more!

Sign Up for your free podcast membership as there are many additional podcast benefits available for you.  For a limited time, you will receive a Free Lifetime Membership to listen to all premium channels.

Please visit The Podcast Network at

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A Snowy Hike At Sprague Lake in RMNP




Sprague Lake was just gorgeous the other day in Rocky Mountain National Park! The lake is frozen and there is a lot of snow. The mountain peaks of Hallett and Flattop were just beautiful in the background.

You can hike around the lake with good hiking boots, stabilizers, micro-spikes, snowshoes or cross-country skis. It’s like a winter wonderland. If you’re in the area, maybe you can get outside and enjoy the beautiful winter!

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A Complete Review Of The New Leica V-Lux 40 Digital Camera.



Some of our blog readers have recently asked which camera we decided to replace our 5 year old Leica cameras with. We had purchased a brand new Canon released camera, but unfortunately… after 6 different cameras and 12 different batteries later, Canon could not diagnose why the battery indicator did not work properly. We figured it had to do with the elevation, as Canon did not have any other indication of this particular issue anywhere else in the USA.  So, with every disappointment, there becomes an opportunity.  Three days later, the new Leica V-Lux 40 was press released to the general public. We quickly placed an order for 2 cameras, 2 extra batteries, 2 Leica camera cases and 4 SD cards.  We originally ordered the hard, brown leather case, but we returned those two cases for the smaller, soft leather Leica case (shown below).

We have to admit, there is a similar Panasonic camera available with similar capabilities, but the Red Leica Logo on the camera still indicates quality after all these years.  Our 5 year old Leica cameras never had a problem and never had a battery problem, so we were confident of the performance of the new cameras.

We were fortunate to be one of the first people to receive the new Leica V-Lux 40 cameras and from the moment of the first charge of the new batteries, we were off to photograph Rocky Mountain National Park.

The new Leica V-Lux 40 lens (f/3.3-6.4) spans 24mm super-wide angle to 480 mm super-telephoto.  As you can see from some of our recent bird photographs (and some of our photographs that we are going to post), the photographs bring you right into the bird’s eye and that is what makes a bird photograph really stand out.

The video is full-HD, has wind-noise filter, stereo microphone and other great features.  We haven’t posted any videos on our blog, but we can assure you that you won’t be disappointed with the quality of the video.

The 3″ LCD is a touch screen (if that is the best way for you to change features) or you can turn it off and use the regular controls.  The touch screen can also be used for viewing and editing of your photographs right in the camera.

The size of the camera is perfect as it will fit into your front jeans pocket as well as your jacket pocket and that was very important for us.  We really wanted a camera that was totally versatile in size, so it didn’t interfere with our choice of taking our camera or not taking our camera. We always wanted our camera available at all times.

We also had 2 major requirements: landscape photography and macro photography.  Many cameras are very soft with macro photography and we required a camera that would photograph from a 1″ distance.  With the large lens of the Leica V-Lux 40, we didn’t have any idea what the results would be.  From the first group of wild flowers, butterflies, etc. we were convinced that we had made the correct choice for macro photography.  The images were sharp and we produced results that we were proud of.  We also could set the camera to a different setting and do closeups of butterflies zoomed in.  Some of the butterflies that we photographed were very hard to photograph as you can’t approach them because they would always fly away.  The new Leica solved our problems with uncooperative butterflies.

The camera can produce photographs that can be printed up to 20×30 and that is as large of a photograph that we would ever be printing.

We would also like to add that even though we have considerable Photoshop knowledge, it is not our interest to sit in front of our computer and edit photographs.  So, all the photographs that have been taken with the Leica V-Lux 40 have only been cropped.  What you see is what you get and that is the way we like it.  It conveys what we actually saw at that time and that is what we like to present to our blog readers.

For the photographers who like to use Aperture, Shutter, Manual and Program setting, this camera is for you, too.  You can use it on Automatic or set it for all the combinations that you would prefer for that photographic moment.  We like to use all the possibilities, so when you see a macro with a blurred background, the camera is doing its work with an Aperture setting.

The camera also has numerous special saved settings that you can save in advance and then dial by turning the knob on the top of the camera. We set some of the settings for a special macro setting.

So, before you may think that this camera is too much for you, there are many scene settings, filters, 3D, face recognition, etc. for the photographer who just wants to have a lot of automatic settings. But the advantage, unlike other cameras, it that you can slowly learn and have the professional features available.  I can attest that I didn’t know from the start how to use all these features, but I  enjoy being able to experiment and learn each day.  Our old Leica cameras didn’t have all these features, so I have just started to learn for the past couple of weeks. It is a very exciting process.  I figure that since this camera is going to be used for a while, I might as well have available all the features I could possibly need.

The camera has a built-in GPS that marks all the locations of the photographs and I can download the map files from the Leica CD that comes with the camera.  The location of the photographs are shown right on my camera.  The camera can also photograph 60 images per second if I come to a bird or wildlife situation that I want to capture the exact moment.  I have not had the opportunity to use that feature yet.

We printed out the 196 page manual and it sits next to our bed to be read a few pages at a time when we want to learn a bit more about the features of the camera.

The proof of the quality of the camera is the results of my photographs. The last couple of weeks have really shown me that the camera has made quite a difference.  The 480mm lens has enabled me to capture those bird photographs that I was always dreaming of and the macro photographs have really been quite amazing.  With all the wonderful opportunities in Rocky Mountain National Park, I wake up each day anticipating an even better day than the day before.  I just came back from a great day of photography and I can’t wait to post my new photographs.

You do pay a bit extra for the Leica name, but the happiness of the results outweigh the extra cost.  I hope this review of the Leica V-Lux 40 has helped you all.


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The Rock Climbers Were Enjoying The Day At Lumpy Ridge In RMNP



Last Saturday was glorious….that perfect spring day when you just wanted to spend the whole day outside.

It was fun to go for a hike and see the rocky climbers up on Lumpy Ridge. It’s the first time I’ve seen them climbing this season. What a perfect day!

If you look really close, you can see a rocky climber going up the crack almost in the middle of the photograph. He’s about a third of the way up and has a white t-shirt on. Can you see him?

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Pretty White Bitter Cress By The Stream At Hidden Valley In RMNP



I love to hike Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park whether it be in the summer on the trails or snowshoeing in the winter.

I took this photograph in August by the stream not too far up the trail where it goes over the water. I just loved the composition of the Bitter Cress with some open flowers and some buds. And then the fly (or bee) came by and landed right there. I loved it!

Bitter Cress is a perennial that grows to 30″ tall with heart-shaped leaves that are about 2″ long. The  flowers are about 1/2″ wide with four white, indented petals. They are borne in clusters about 2″ wide and can be found in the montane ro subalpine near running water.

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What Everyone Should Know Before Attempting The Keyhole Route On Longs Peak In RMNP



Rocky Mountain National Park News Release, August 12, 2011, For Immediate Release, Kyle Patterson 970-586-1363

What Everyone Should Know Before Attempting The Keyhole Route On Longs Peak In Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park rangers want those who attempt the Keyhole Route on Longs Peak to have realistic expectations of the challenges they will face to summit the 14,259 foot mountain.   New informative materials, to help people plan and prepare for their climb, have been posted on the park’s website since July.  The updated information includes a brochure with photographs of the different sections on the route, twelve frequently asked questions and weekly conditions of the route.

When visitors access they will find a down-loadable brochure showing the main sections of the route, starting at the Boulder Field and ending at the summit with brief text and photos.  The brochure also includes numerous safety tips and essentials to wear and carry.  In the Frequently Asked Questions section twelve of the
most common questions are answered such as “How have people been injured or killed on the Keyhole Route?” “How many people should I expect to see on the route during the summer?” and “Do I really need to start at the trailhead before sunrise?”  For the last few years, rangers have been posting the Longs Peak Conditions Report weekly during the peak season.
The report illustrates conditions along the route with photographs. Visitors are encouraged to use the report only as a guideline since conditions can change rapidly.

The Keyhole Route to the summit of Longs Peak, one of the most popular routes in Colorado, is an extraordinary climbing experience.  This is not a hike.  It is a climb, a classic mountaineering route that should not be underestimated.  The route crosses enormous vertical rock faces, is exposed to falling rock, and requires scrambling on all fours.  The route has
narrow ledges, loose rock, and steep cliffs.  Depending upon conditions snow and ice might be encountered any time of year.  The terrain requires route finding skills and the ability to assess and adjust to unexpected or changing weather conditions.  A slip, trip or fall could be fatal.

Safety is ultimately each visitor’s personal responsibility.   The most important part of any adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park is to plan and prepare for a safe return.


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We Love Our New MicroSpikes Made By Kahtoola For Hiking In RMNP



We were looking around for some new crampons or stabilizers for hiking in the snow and ice. Dave at the Estes Park Mountain Shop suggested that we try the new MicroSpikes made by Kahtoola.

We took them out a couple of times last week and they were great! They are easy to put on your  boots and take only a minute. The MicroSpikes have little spikes on the bottom that really grip the snow and ice. The whole arrangement is made of rubber that fits over the top of your boots and small chains so that if you do hike on rocks they will not break or come apart.

We’ve used many different kinds before but these are the most versatile. You can carry them in your backpack or strap them to the outside  for easy accessibility. We’ve had a lot of hiking trails that we’d only done with snowshoes before. Now we can go “cramponing” or snowshoeing and still enjoy the day!

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It Was Great to Meet Heidi Who Was Celebrating Her Birthday With A Hike To To Emerald Lake Last Week



On our hike up to Emerald Lake last week we bumped into  a lady who was hiking by herself. She was going the same way as we thought it would be fun to hike  with her for a while. It turns out that she was celebrating her birthday (3 days later) by going for a hike up to Emerald Lake. What a coincidence! My birthday had been the day before and we had celebrated it with  a hike to Cub Lake. This hike was just extra frosting on the cake!

When we got up to Emerald Lake we told her that we’d take her picture and then email it to her. I thought it would be fun to write a little Blog on our Outdoor Eyes website about her too.

It was a lot of fun to meet you, Heidi and hike with you. It’s always fun to meet a new person who shares the same passion that you do for hiking and the outdoors. We thoroughly enjoyed your company. So a belated Happy Birthday to you and we’re so glad that you had such a beautiful day to celebrate your special day with a hike up to Emerlad Lake!

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Dream Lake Was Just Spectacular With Hallet Peak And Flattop Mountain In The Background



Phil and I had just gotten our new “MicroSpikes so we were excited about trying them out. We thought a hike up to Emerald Lake would be just perfect. The weather was gorgeous…warm with blue, blue skies and very little wind.

We started out early before anyone else was on the trail. I love it when we are the only ones out there. It is so peaceful. The hike to Nymph Lake was easy but as we continued past Nymph Lake we lost the trail for a bit. If you go up, stay to the left past the lake. It’s a nice hike up to Dream Lake, although the trail gets a bit narrow in a few spots.

It was just beautiful! I love this photograph I took of Phil at Dream Lake with Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain in the background. What a winter wonderland!! And what a gorgeous day! Perfect for a hike!

It’s fun when you reach Dream Lake and have to hike across the frozen lake to get to the trail on the other side. It got  a bit windy from Dream Lake up to Emerald Lake but was still a warm wind and we had dressed well for the winds. The hike to Emerald Lake was so pretty with all of the snow.

It was about 10:15 when we started down and we passed quite a few people going up. It’s nice to see so many people enjoying the day…hiking or snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park! It doesn’t get much better…

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