Hungry for adventure as naive freshmen, my friend Puneeth and I decided to take on the Rockys in the winters of Colorado. It was the thanksgiving of 2019 - we packed our camping gear and were off to Estes Park. On our arrival in Denver, we were greeted by a winter storm warning, which we made a conscious decision to ignore, of course. The hunger for adventure is quite the driving force, I guess. 
What happened next is quite the story: we got stuck in a campground, alone, in winds blowing over fourty kilometres an hour in twenty four degrees celcius below freezing. After hours enduring the cold, the only sane thing to do was to reach out for help. At around 3 in the morning, a National Park Service Ranger drove to us, through snow filled roads which quadrupled his travel time to two hours. We were rescued.
Follow our ordeal, the aftermath, the landscape and the people of this story in our film, "The Rocky Mountain (mis)Adventure" and through this photo-story.
The Film

Puneeth and I at Dream Lake.

17 Hours of Waiting at Denver International Airport.

The Ordeal

Our campsite an hour into the storm: it is completely dark outside, snow is accumulating outside the tent and it is getting very cold.

Puneeth and I take refuge from the snowstorm in a nearby outhouse.

The snow accumulated outside the outhouse.

Puneeth walks back to the National Park Service Ranger's car with his documents and other stuff. The storm has started to subside, but still wrecks havoc.

The Aftermath

Our tent two days after the storm: it is under two feet of snow, even after a day of melting.

We try to pack the tent. The amount of snow and the effects of the storm are visible by the amount of the snow and the bending of the rods.

Puneeth discusses our plan with Akbar, our Lyft driver in Estes Park. Two days after the storm, it is a great day to camp - other travelers have pitched their tents. A couple days ago, it was just the two of us in the storm.

Puneeth walking back to the car with our tent. His footprints in the snow after a day of melting show how much snow had accumulated. Also, notice the tree that fell due to the storm.

Puneeth at Mills Lake. After the storm, we decided to go in and trek to the places we had originally planned to trek anyway. Mills lake was one of those places. Arguably one of the most stunning sights we have come across - the lake, frozen, topped with a couple feet of untouched snow. Nobody else at the lake, just us, and our hearbeats. Soon after we started walking back out, the weather started looking bad again. The clouds in this photograph show the bad patch arriving, slowly.


The wind leaves its tracks over the snow as the sun shines bright. Mills lake.

Tourists visit and get pictures clicked at Bear Lake, at the trailhead to Mills Lake, a few miles from here.

A large male Elk wanders the roads at the periphery of the park.

The People

Dean Rinehart from the National Park Service.

Dean was the ranger who rescued us from the storm on that night. We also bumped into him a couple days later and he gave us a ride, after which we got this picture with him.

Keith from Lyft.

Keith drove us from Denver to Estes Park. Throughout the way, he kept stressing how bad our timing was and that we should reconsider going in. He said he'd never seen anybody go camping in such weather over the years that he's been in the region. 

Akbar Fazilov from Lyft.

Akbar drove us around Estes Park. He dropped us to our campsite on the afternoon of the storm. Later at night, I texted him for help. He said there was no way a car could come into the park that deep due to snow on the roads.  

Mike Taylor & Shawn O'Kelly

We met Mike & Shawn on our way back from Mills lake. We had met them at the banks of the lake when they were heading back. We went further ahead while they walked back. When we got back to the trailhead, they were waiting for us in their car. They gave us a ride back into Estes Park.

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