Rocky Mountain Day Hikes Story

Rocky Mountain Day Hikes Story

A big thanks to Rocky Mountain Day Hikes for sharing our story.

The friendly 3:45am alarm sounds, as Brownfield’s store manager, Anne Brader, rises for another adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park with her team. Still dark and crisp outside, she fills her Nalgene bottle, loads her Camelbak backpack, and laces up her favorite pair of Salomon hiking shoes.
Image of a group hike on Hallet Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park
Middle school, high school, college students, and young adults from Brownfield’s team are doing the same thing in the wee hours of the morning. A group of dedicated and devoted hikers meet at 4:30am to pile into a couple of cars and head into Rocky Mountain National Park before the 5am reservations are required.

Without knowing their work schedules a month or more in advance nor being able to plan for weather, this group of committed hikers needed to adjust to the new reservation system. Before the reservation system, they could freely enter the RMNP and make hiking plans based upon their work schedules and the weather forecast.  Rather than give up their special hiking tradition together, they opted to start their hikes before the break of dawn.

In a digital world filled with distractions, it's remarkable to think that young people from 14 years old to their late-twenties would get up hours before most alarms sound and venture into RMNP to embrace all the glory of nature. If this weren’t impressive enough, the number of miles they log is mind-blowing. The hiking group will often hike upwards of 15 miles before they put in a full day of work at Brownfield’s.
Image of a group of hikers in Rocky Mountain National Park
From Sky Pond, to Crystal Lake, to Sandbeach Lake, to Hallett Peak, these co-workers have forged deep friendships as they have journeyed through the forest together. They have jumped in freezing cold mountain lakes, beheld breathtaking sunrises, encountered majestic wildlife, savored rich conversations, endured a few minor injuries, and made memories that will last a lifetime.  They relish in the great wilderness, hurry home to clean up and eat lunch, then start the late shift at the store helping customers, folding shirts, and happily sharing the best hiking advice around.

Anne leads this group with laughter and love. Each hike embodies different experiences and represents diverse members of the team, with Anne being the perpetual constant.  Every once in a while, another seasoned adult from our staff will dare to wake up before dawn and join the youthful bunch.  During the 2023 season, Anne hiked 192 miles and many staff members were close behind in racking up that many miles on the trails.

The pinnacle of the group’s adventures so far occurred on Sunday, July 16, 2023.  Summiting Hallett Peak has become an annual tradition for our crew. Standing at 12,720 ft., Hallett Peak is an iconic mountain that provides a distinguished backdrop for Estes Park. The hike is over 10 miles round trip complete with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
Image of a man proposing marriage to his girlfriend in  Rocky Mountain National Park
For weeks, one of our teammates, Brayden, had been planning to surprise another teammate, Meila, with a marriage proposal on top of Hallett Peak, both of them having worked and hiked together for years. With the dramatic backdrop of Longs Peak and his friends by his side, Brayden dropped to one knee and professed his commitment and love to Meila. The ring was placed on her finger with shouts of acclamation and joy ringing from the mountaintop. Snacks and drinks were served and in true Brownfield’s fashion, celebratory matching t-shirts were put on. It was a glorious moment, years in the making.

The adventure continued as these friends scrambled over rocks to get to Andrew’s Glacier. The giant white “Slip and Slide” was the perfect way to celebrate the engagement. Down they slid, one by one, laughing, smiling, screaming, living life to the full. When they arrived at Andrew’s Tarn, the bravest and boldest of the bunch, jumped in that frigid glacial lake. Sun-kissed, exhausted, hearts full, souls happy, they capped their adventure with burgers from “Baba’s,” also known as Burgers on Moraine. It was a wonderfully perfect day in every way.

These are the stories of life. These are gifts from above. These are the experiences in Rocky Mountain National Park that will never be forgotten.

​Happy hiking!
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