A few years ago, I began a tradition with my sons that had brought me nothing but joy and happiness. They no longer get me any gifts for my birthday or for Father’s Day. Instead, they spend the day with me doing my favorite activity – hiking.

Both of them love hiking and being in nature. It’s been a joy to hear them talk about taking their friends into the wild, especially when they trek to a place that I’ve taken them.

It’s been especially meaningful watching them connect with nature in ways that I understand. The peacefulness and serenity of allowing one’s spirit to realign with the natural world while doing nothing more than staring into the wild is now something I’ve seen in them.

A Nervous, But Wonderful Start

The day started with something I’ve never experienced – a ranger in the entrance station of the Wild Basin area with a line of cars!

I rarely hike in Rocky Mountain National Park on weekends during the summer season because of the crowds. Plus, I am usually at the trailhead very early in the morning. However, I really wanted to spend my actual birthday hiking this year.

After the ranger told us that the trailhead parking was full, my heart sunk. The idea of parking and walking the road to the trailhead was not appealing. Fortunately, he was referring to the primary trailhead, and we started at the Finch Lake trailhead.

Early in the hike, a kind couple from Florida offered to take our photo at one of my many favorite thinking rocks. The view of Mount Meeker, Pagoda, and Chiefs Head is spectacular from that comfortable boulder, which you can’t see in this photo.

Shea Brandon and Michael Hiking

One of my other favorite spots on the way to Finch Lake is a log bridge crossing of Cony Creek. Through the years, I’ve spent several hours snapping photos and just sitting and listening to the tumbling water from this simple bridge.

Of course, Brandon decided that he would give the spot a try.

Brandon Pondering on Cony Creek Crossing

And he did find the view and the feeling rather peaceful.

Brandon Peace Sign on Cony Creek Crossing

About five miles from the trailhead, Finch Lake comes into view. It’s a popular destination, and I expected it to be crowded. Once again, the stings of fate twisted in my direction, and another of my favorite places to sit and enjoy nature was unoccupied.

The boys and I jumped out onto this rock and enjoyed a first lunch of “Daddy Sandwiches,” the multi-meat and cheese sandwiches that ensured that my boys would never want cafeteria food in school (not my plan – but that’s what happened).

Michael and Brandon Standing on Finch Lake Lunch Rock

Shortly after leaving Finch Lake, we crossed Cony Creek again. Here is a little video that I took standing on the log crossing.

About a quarter-mile before reaching Pear Lake, you cross Pear Creek, which flows out of the lake. We took a few minutes to refill water containers (we use Sawyer Filters), and I shot another creek video. Yes, I love shooting little videos of mountain streams. There is something peaceful and comforting hanging out where the unbelievable volume of water that flows from the mountains.

We had to trudge through a bit of snow for the last couple of hundred years to the lake. Snowballs were prepared, but I quickly threw mine against a big boulder in the realization that my boys would completely pummel me if I followed my initial, devious desire to peg one of them!

Brandon Hiking in the Snow

Fortune once again spun in our direction, and when we arrived at Pear Lake, the giant boulder overlooking the lake and Mount Copeland waited without another soul anywhere nearby.

We kicked back for a rest, enjoying the spectacular scenery, in agreement that capturing the beauty of this place in a photo is truly impossible.

Poor Brandon managed to strain a muscle and a tendon as we neared the lake but decided that the experience of being in someplace as magical as this was more than worth the discomfort.

Michael and Brandon on Boulder Above Pear Lake

Unsurprisingly, a big day in the mountains needed to be topped off with something meaningful and in alignment with what the boys and I love. Oskar Blues in Lyons helped out with a Silo Burger, fries, and a tasty craft-brewed stout.

Silo Burger at Oscar Blues

There are days that I can’t believe that I have two of the most amazing young men as my sons. My soul is comforted beyond words that they have become who they are, and I am so fortunate to have spent another day with them in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Shea Michael and Brandon Selfie at Pear Lake

Pear Lake

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