This is the archive for Hiking.
- A Year Ago… Longs Peak
A year ago today I summited Longs Peak in Estes Park, CO with a wonderful group of people from the RMNP Forums. We took the Keyhole Route. At 14,259 ft, Longs Peak was the first “fourteener” I’ve ever climbed. Here are a few photos by John Swadley. Click to enlarge. I will post some of my photos from the hike this coming week.
Lora, Allen, Ed, and me (I am at the bottom of the photos) making our way across the Narrows.
The group at the Boulderfield around 7 a.m. (after 3.5 hours of hiking already)
Me on the Ledges
At the summit!
More photos to come soon! Stay tuned!
- RMNP 3 of 5: Mount Ida
On August 24, I posted this on my blog about August 23:
“Today I got up before sunrise, breathed in the scent of pines as I traversed the mountainside, walked through clouds above the tree line, ate lunch next to a marmot on a mountain summit, gazed upon secluded mountain lakes, and was reminded how volatile Colorado weather is as I got caught in a hail storm at 12,880 ft. Today I remembered how beautiful and complex Earth is.”
On the 23rd the Staffords and I woke up at 4:45 a.m., left the cabin at 6, and began hiking at 7 a.m. We started from Poudre Lake at Milner Pass. Our destination was the top of Mount Ida. We quickly made our way up the mountainside and emerged out of the pines and above the tree line. This was my first experience hiking in the alpine tundra. The air was a cool 40 degrees and the wind whipped by at 35 mph. The sky looked ominous and threatened rain. I knew the weather changes quickly above the tree line, so I was not terribly worried. As we hiked along the Continental Divide trail, clouds rolled in all around us. Click on the photo to see it larger. You can see Ben and Mrs. Stafford in the cloud:
Gradually the clouds and light rain drifted off. For a while it seemed like it was clearing out just ahead of us. Then the sun broke through the ominous clouds and lit up the hillside:
Visibility improved significantly once the sun broke through. We could the snowfields, Lake Granby of in the distance to the south, the Never Summer mountains to the west, and small lakes in the gorge to the east. Looking back on ground we already covered, I could see small unimproved trails winding across the hillside:
The weather as we approached the summer was wonderful. The wind died down, blue skies raised our spirits, and marmots came out of their rocky dens. Here you can see the tundra in the foreground, the Never Summer mountains to the left, and the North Ridge to the right:
We kept good pace and ascended the rocky incline to the summit in the sun with the occasional rolling cloud. We ate lunch on the summit–for me, peanut butter on flatbread, a dried fruit bar, a clif bar, and water. A marmot came out of his summit den and ate lunch near us––a nearby tuft of grass for him. Mr. Stafford took a photo of me on the summit just before lunch:
From the summit we could see Inkwell, Azure, Highest, and Arrowhead lakes. This was a special experience for me because I realized these were the lakes I saw in 2007 with my parents from Trail Ridge Road. I told myself I would one day hike to them. I realized that I was just above them!
As we sat peacefully eating our lunch and gazing upon Forest Canyon and the aforementioned lakes, Mrs. Stafford turned around to look off to the south and saw a huge storm where there was previously blue skies. It was heading our way. Not wanting to get caught in it, we scrambled to pack up our stuff. Then a problem arose. Mrs. Stafford could not find her camera. We search around for a few minutes, then I got my flashlight out and spotted it between some rocks. As I laid down and reached for it, the camera slid further down. Not wanting to waste time trying to fish it out, Ben, Mr. Stafford, and I worked together to move a few big rocks so that Mrs. Stafford could grab the camera.
By this time the wind was whipping again and it started hailing on us for a few minutes. The weather is quite unpredictable at 12,880 ft. I quickly did my 10 summit pushups as per Dr. Steele’s request, then we quickly scrambled down from the summit and began the 5 mile treck back to the trailhead in the rain. I am very thankful that I brought my rain jacket. I was freezing in the fierce wind!
After about 45minutes, the sun came back out. I shed my rain jacked and warmed up in the sun. The Staffords went on ahead while I took my time coming down to marvel at the beautiful scenery and take photos. There were still ominous clouds in the sky, but the weather stayed clear for the rest of the hike. Here is a shot looking at the North Ridge and the Continental Divide Trail:
After a while I feared I was lagging too far behind, so I jogged for about 20 minutes to catch up with the Staffords. I caught up to Mr. and Mrs. Stafford, but Benjamin was nowhere to be found. He is a pretty fast hiker and was far ahead of everyone. I snapped a photo as I caught up with them:
As we came back down into the tree line, we caught a glimpse of a bull elk with six points per antler. What a majestic creature!
This was great hike. We experienced a 40 degree range of temperatures, multiple elements, and a few different terrains. The views were amazing. Besides for Longs Peak a few days later, this was my favorite hike of the trip.
- RMNP 2 of 5: Blue Lake
On day two the Staffords and I did an approximately 11 mile hike from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Blue Lake and back.
Note: Click each photo to view it at a larger size.
The Glacier Gorge region, shot from Blue Lake shelf on the upper east wall of Glacier Gorge:
Ben and I took the regular trail to see Alberta Falls while Mr. and Mrs. Stafford took the shorter, less known fire trail and we met just before Mills Lake. (Mills is the large lake farther away in the photo above.) Ben and I weren’t very inspired by the falls and quickly hiked past it, making up time in order to meet his parents. We all stopped for a short rest and snack break around 2.5 miles in at Mills Lake.
Across Mills Lake you can see the north west side of Longs Peak illuminated in the morning sun.
I zoomed in with my telephoto lens and could see people at the top of Longs…that was us just a few days later!
We continued along and hit Jewel Lake about 3.1 miles in. (Jewel is the closer, smaller lake in the Glacier Gorge photo above.) Across the lake on the south west side of Jewel Lake we saw a few elk soaking up the sun:
We kept pushing along in order to reach Black Lake by lunch. Most of this time I had my camera in my pack (a nice Kelty Tornado which I found for $10 at a rummage sale the week before…a total steal!) I brought my camera back out around 4.7 miles in at Ribbon Falls. Here is a shot of the beautiful scenery we saw as we hiked up the rocks by a cascade from Black Lake:
We ate our lunch at Black Lake. Above to the left is McHenry’s Peak and to the right is Arrowhead:
We had approximately another mile of hiking and about 1000 feet in elevation gain to go in order to reach Blue Lake. The problem was that there is no path to it. It is not even on most maps. Most of the lakes above Black Lake require you to hike in their general direction and find them. This was definitely the case with Blue Lake. We followed a creek above Black Lake and then cut sharply left and in order to find Blue.
Halfway up the creek I turned around and snapped a few photos of Black Lake, Arrowhead, and McHenry’s again:
The beautiful area above Black Lake (Longs Peak is the flat one in the center):
The Staffords, taken while we were trying to figure out where Blue Lake was:
After much bushwhacking through krummholz and climbing up steep rocks, we finally made it to Blue Lake. The view from up there was worth the 5.5 mile, 2000 feet elevation gain one-way hike. The lake was beautiful and we could see almost the entire Glacier Gorge area (photo at the top).
Ben scouts ahead and finds a good route to get down to the lake:
The south west edge of Blue Lake with the Spearhead in the distance:
Here is a photo I forgot to post last time. After the Odessa Loop hike we went over to Sheep Lakes and got to see some Bighorn ewes come down the mountain to get some of the minerals in the lakes:
- RMNP 1 of 5: Odessa Loop
This is the first in a series of five posts about my trip to Rocky Mountain National Park back in August. I anticipated writing detailed posts, but I left my hiking journal at Hillsdale. I will try to recall my hikes from memory, but I will have to rely mostly on photos. I don’t remember the exact milages for each hike, but I do remember the approximate route. I will do my best. If you want a reference to the places I am referring to, consult this map (PDF).
Click on the photos to view them at a larger size.
The Staffords (Ben, Mrs. Stafford, and Mr. Stafford) near Lake Helene:
The Stafford family was very gracious in inviting me to join them for a week-long hiking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park. We all stayed in a cabin just outside of Estes Park proper and drove in to the park early each morning.
The first day we started at the Bear Lake trailhead around 7:30 a.m. We caught the Fern Lake Trail off of the Bear Lake Trail just north of Bear Lake and made our way west and north towards Odessa Lake.
I paused shortly after Bear Lake as the trail climbed quickly upward to snap a photo of the morning light illuminating some leaves (click the photo for a larger view):
We climbed up a little ways to Lake Helene. Here is the edge of Helene with Notchtop Mountain in the distance:
Continuing on past Helene, we went through a pass on the north side of Joe Mills Mountain. This was our highest altitude of that day, at around 10,500 ft. Once while looking down over the valley I saw a massive bull elk making his way through the pines! Thankfully I did not experience any altitude sickness of any kind. I had plenty of water and I kept well hydrated.
Here are the Staffords looking down on Odessa Lake from the trail on the north side of Joe Mills Mountain:
Looking back at Notchtop from the same place:
Once we got down to Odessa Lake we ate lunch. It was a little chilly, but the sun felt wonderful. I hiked in an athletic polo and hiking shorts most of the day.
After lunch, we continued down to Fern Lake and rested there for a little while. We didn’t want to push ourselves too hard on the first day. I kicked back and watched some trout swim around in the cold mountain lake water.
A glacial deposit just above Fern Lake:
Afterwards we went on to Marguerite Falls, Fern Falls, and The Pool. Throughout the day we saw ptarmigan, marmot, pika, and elk! It was a great hike. I think it was approximately 7±1 miles, but I am not 100% sure. (I have it written down in my hiking journal up in Hillsdale.)
Next: Glacier Gorge area
About Monday, August 23:
Today I got up before sunrise, breathed in the scent of pines as I traversed the mountainside, walked through clouds above the tree line, ate lunch next to a marmot on a mountain summit, gazed upon secluded mountain lakes, and was reminded how volatile Colorado weather is as I got caught in a hail storm at 12,880 ft. Today I remembered how beautiful and complex Earth is.
[Photos coming in a week when I get more reliable internet access.]
- Great Day For a Hike
I am in Estes Park, Colorado this week for the Foundation for Economic Education‘s Freedom Academy for high school students. (I know that I haven’t posted on my blog much this summer. I’ve been quite busy. I have a wonderful internship with the Foundation for Economic Education. I am working out of Atlanta with trips to Colorado and New York. More on that in a later post!) The seminar staff all flew in on Friday night, then we did as much prep work as we could in order to take some time to ourselves today before the students show up on Monday morning. Since we are right next to Rocky Mountain National Park, we decided to do a short 3.6 mile (roundtrip) hike in the late morning/early afternoon.
Below are some of my photos from the hike. The Rockies are gorgeous! They are teeming with life and beauty. The hike was excellent- beautiful weather up until the last leg of the hike, cool temperatures, sun, and in one instance in the higher elevation, snow on the ground. I even saw wild cutthroat trout in a few of the mountain streams and lakes! I am coming back here in a month for a hiking trip with a friend of mine and his family. I can’t wait!
Click on the photos to view them at a larger size. Enjoy!
Looking down on Bear Lake:
Hallett Peak over Dream Lake:
Water Lily on Bear Lake:
Reflections on Bear Lake:
Storms rolling in over Flattop Mountain and Emerald Lake:
Here are a few shots of me taking two of the above photos. The shots of me were taken by Jason Hughey.