We managed to arrive at the Bear Lake hiking area by 7:00 this morning to avoid the July 4th crowds in Rocky Mountain National Park. Our reward was not only being nearly alone for the first hour of hiking, but also splendid morning views of the snow caps mirrored in Bear Lake (above). Other lakes we saw while hiking today: Dream Lake, Nymph Lake, Emerald Lake, and Sprague Lake. We also hiked up to Alberta Falls.
Emerald Lake is still mainly frozen. A few daring (or maybe reckless) hikers were walking on the ice. We had to walk on quite a few snow piles that still cover the trails. By the time we were returning down the trail, the crowds were really making the surfaces hard to walk on. At one location, a number of energetic hikers were sliding down the snow on their backs. Although it's steep in places, the trail is mainly not very hard to walk where it's dry.
Sprague Lake, our last stop before leaving the park, was "improved" around 100 years ago by a resort owner who brought vacationers here before the creation of the National Park. He wanted to make the lake more attractive to fishermen -- evidently, they still like it. Much lower than the other lakes, Sprague is completely unfrozen and the trail around it is a very easy, flat walk on a smooth surface.
In total our hiking today was over 6 miles.