Maybe I was expecting too much from our first couple of snowfalls, but really, it’s practically all gone already and I want more. Not that I really WANT to shovel my driveway, mind you, but I kind of want to NEED to shovel my driveway, if that makes sense. More snow please!
This one is from a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park last February. That’s Hallett Peak (left) and Flattop Mountain (right) with the Tyndall Glacier in between.
We’ve had our first bit of snow this week in the Denver metro area and are expecting more today, so now I’m getting eager for my winter hiking season to commence. My poor, neglected and very dusty snowshoes will be so excited! This photo is from my snowshoe trek to Cub Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in March of this year.
P.S. I just remembered that this was just a plain old “hike in the snow,” NOT a snowshoe trek. I do recall WISHING that I had brought the snowshoes, though.
I think the wildflowers are running just a little late this year, as it seems that I’m consistently hitting my hiking destinations just shy of the peak flower bloom. I generally use Pamela & David Irwin’s Best Wildflower Hikes in Colorado series to guide me in my hike selection. The Nymph/Dream/Emerald Lake hike is listed therein with a peak bloom of mid-July, which is… now. But it just didn’t seem like the flowers were quite at their peak yet. They were still nice, though.
I saw mostly the usual suspects on this hike, the exceptions below being flowers I don’t see all that often, haven’t seen in a while, or have never seen before. The buckbean at the bottom is a totally new one to me. I’m always happy when I can add a new flower to my “life list.” If I had such a list, that is. Maybe I should start one.
So that about wraps up my posts from last Friday’s 5 Lakes Tour. You can view more photos from the hike HERE if you’re so inclined. As always, I recommend that you view the photos in the gallery as a slideshow.
Yesterday I headed to Rocky Mountain National Park to squeeze every last bit of value out of my annual parks pass that expires at the end of July. My goal was to repeat the route of my mid-January snowshoe trek to Nymph, Dream and Emerald Lakes (see Emerald Lake FTW*), plus I threw in a couple of extra lakes, Bear Lake and Lake Haiyaha, for good measure.
Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t exactly the best place to go hiking during the summer, especially not on one of the most popular trails in the park. It wasn’t horribly crowded on the way up, but on the way back the trail was reminiscent of the LA Freeway at rush hour. I can’t imagine what it’s like on weekends! Ugh.
But it was a wonderful, wonderful hike and a very different experience from my last visit. The addition of Lake Haiyaha was especially nice. Lake Haiyaha sits amid a jumble of boulders, some of which are absolutely MASSIVE, in the middle of Chaos Canyon, which is just on the other side of a ridge from Dream and Emerald Lakes. The boulders make getting TO the lake a bit of a challenge, but it’s a very impressive setting.
I had really hoped to have some new & improved fireworks photographs to share today, but alas, Mother Nature had other ideas. She decided to throw a big ol’ thunderstorm right into the middle of our 4th of July evening. I still managed to see most of the show from underneath an umbrella, but I wasn’t about to subject my camera to those conditions. HUGE disappointment, but there’s always next year I suppose!
So, let’s see… I think I’ll share a few more photos from Friday’s hike to Ouzel Falls in RMNP. Here’s another view of Ouzel Falls:
And another view of Calypso Cascades (photographs absolutely cannot do Calypso Cascades justice):
The ubiquitous Steller’s jay:
And a bee working over a golden banner:
That’s it for my Ouzel Falls blog posts. You can view additional photographs from this hike in the Ouzel Falls gallery HERE.
Yesterday’s hiking destination was Ouzel Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Wild Basin area. I had hiked part of this trail at the end of April in 2007, but had to turn back due to heavy snow on the trail, so I thought I’d give it another go.
If you want to see waterfalls in Rocky Mountain National Park, this is the hike to take. In addition to Ouzel Falls, you’ll also enjoy Copeland Falls, Calypso Cascades and another area of cascades that doesn’t seem to have a name.
The wildflowers, while not quite at peak, were abundant and I saw a few species that were new to me, including the spotted coralroot orchid.
My hike yesterday was in the much-less-visited northeastern part of Rocky Mountain National Park, a few miles north of Estes Park. It wasn’t my usual craggy-mountain-vista kind of hike, but it was pleasant enough. My ultimate destination was Bridal Veil Falls which, at 20-feet tall, is supposedly the highest waterfall in the park and claimed to be the prettiest by many.
The trail meanders through wide, fairly open meadows, with rocky granite ridges on either side, then enters a thick forest of spruce, ponderosa pine and aspen. Most of the hike was pretty easy until the very end, where a little bit of rock-scrambling is required. The falls were indeed quite lovely. I had planned to hike above the falls, but decided that wasn’t exactly safe since there’s still quite a bit of ice on the rocks and there were no other hikers around to call search and rescue when I fell of the cliff. Maybe next time.
Hiking in this early spring season is kind of weird because the aspen trees are still leafless, the grass is still kind of brownish and there are pretty much no flowers out yet. But it’s hiking nonetheless and it was just great to be out there.
Without a doubt my favorite part of the hike was my interaction with the little golden-mantled ground squirrel below, who obviously thought that I should feed him. I didn’t.
I’ll post more photos in a gallery once I get through the 500+ I took yesterday.
The mountains are calling and I must go.
The quote above by one of my heroes, John Muir, describes better than anything how I feel when I haven’t been to the mountains in a bit. Today I am going hiking for the first time in nearly two months. I’m like a little kid on Christmas morning on days when I get to go hiking. Hiking awakens my senses and feeds my soul. I must go.
Yesterday, I once again headed for Rocky Mountain National Park for a hike. (In case you’re wondering why I keep going back to Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s because I’ve pretty much decided on concentrating the bulk of my hiking efforts in RMNP in 2010). Yesterday’s hike was a 6.2-mile loop starting at the Cub Lake trailhead and ending at the Fern Lake trailhead with a connecting 1-mile walk along a road back to my car. Due to the lower elevation (8080’ at the trailhead and 8620’ at the lake), the hike was totally doable without snowshoes or even traction devices (except for my little adventure on Cub Lake, which I’ll get to in a minute).
The route to Cub Lake travels along the western edge of Moraine Park and the northern edge of South Lateral Moraine and Steep Mountain. The glacial nature of the surrounding topography is very apparent along the way.
Upon reaching the frozen, snow-covered lake, I failed to notice where the trail veered to the right to traverse a ridge above the lake. Instead, I followed some tracks that skirted along the edge of the lake. Not a good idea. Due to the deep snow, it was a slow and difficult slog to the west end of the lake, where I was sure I would find where the trail continued. I didn’t. So I slogged about halfway back toward the east and found a nice big flat rock to sit on to refuel, let my jeans dry and enjoy the view to the west of Sprague Mountain and Stones Peak. I was joined by a Steller’s Jay and a group of very gregarious Gray Jays.
I have a particular fondness for Steller’s Jays and especially for Gray Jays and I confess to taking well over 500 pictures of the birds while sitting there on that rock. Let me know if you want to see the rest of them.
During my respite on the rock, a group of hikers passed by along the ridge above me, so I brilliantly deduced that that was where the trail must be. After a quick scramble up the ridge, I found the trail and proceeded on my merry way.
From there, it was a long and fairly gradual and quite snowy decent into Forest Canyon with fantastic views of the aforementioned peaks and of the immense granite ridge to the north. There was an awesome frozen waterfall across the canyon and at the bottom of the canyon is a popular feature called The Pool. In her book Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Hiking Guide (a book I highly recommend), Lisa Foster describes The Pool as “a churning body of water cupped into a granite bowl carved out by the incessant swirling of the Big Thompson River.” I’m guessing it’s probably much more impressive in a less frozen state.
The rest of the way back to the car was a fairly level jaunt through a montane forest of lodgepole and Ponderosa pines, which is well on its way to being decimated by an infestation of mountain pine beetles. I’m not sure what the prognosis is, but it seems like there won’t be any pine trees left in Colorado within a few years. Sad. This makes it all the more imperative to me to photograph the beautiful mountains of Colorado before all the pine trees are gone.