Saturday, August 4, 2018

Gore Lake and Pt. 12,835

Panoramic photograph of Gore Lake and Mt. Silverthorne in the Eagle's Nest Wilderness, Colorado with wildflowers
Gore Range Backcountry - Prints available


The Eagle's Nest Wilderness is a special place.  Most of the high lakes and peaks are difficult to access on long, steep trails (or off trails).  Tim and I both were already tired before we even started backpacking on Friday morning.  We weren't really feeling it this weekend, but we'd planned this trip months before and stayed true to our commitment.

Molly sure was excited to go with us though.  She sat in the garage the previous day while I packed and wouldn't come inside the house because she was afraid of being left at home.  She's 10 years old now and doesn't seem to have the energy she once did.  I figured that this might be one of the last strenuous backpacking trips that she might get to take.  It wasn't too much for her, though she did choose to stay in the tent and rest rather than go out and explore with me a few times.

The first part of the trek in is 4 miles on the Gore Creek trail to the Gore Lake split.  It's fairly easy and unimpressive through the forest without many views other than some nice aspen groves.  In the fall, this would be a great place to see the colors.  Once we reached the trail split, there were actually  hundred year old marked graves for two men right next to the trail, a strange and kind of surprising thing to see while hiking.  There were rock piles to mark the graves and a metal sign description.


Molly


Grave signs (Photo from backpacker.com)

The next couple miles up toward the lake were steep and tiresome. We weren't sure if it would rain so we were trying to move quickly, but were still going at a pretty slow pace
(at least for Tim).  He's been doing a lot of long distance running lately, but hiking up steep hills at altitude with a heavy pack on is a totally different kind of exercise.  Finally the trail leveled out and the views opened up.  Wow!  Jagged peaks all around with colorful wildflowers and streams and pools everywhere.  It was truly an alpine paradise.




First views of Gore Lake

Not long after we set up camp near the lake, a thunderstorm moved in.  We all ducked into the tent to avoid the rain as loud thunder clapped and echoed and rolled through the valley.  You know, the long, loud, ominous kind that seems to shake the ground.  As the storm moved in, you could tell the sudden change in temperature from hot enough to make you sweat to cool enough that you need a jacket.  It was a good time resting our legs and just laying there listening to the wonder that The Lord brings.

After the storm passed, I tried my luck at fishing.  I don't think there were ANY fish in this lake.  There were a number of other people fishing that afternoon as well and nobody had any luck.  We never even saw a fish surface, which was strange because the reports I'd read about the fishing here were good.  Luckily, Tim brought some tuna packets and shared some with me to go with my fish dish.  After we ate our warm meal, I found a good sunset spot for the evening.


Gore Lake with Willow Benchmark/Mount Silverthorne

Red Peak (center) and part of the Zodiac spires (left of center)

Stars over Gore Lake


The next morning I woke to catch the sunrise on Gore Lake.

Gore Lake Sunrise - Prints available


Totally calm

Believe it or not from the cloudless pictures above, after we ate some oatmeal, the sky quickly filled in and it rained for a little while that morning.  I was concerned that our second day of hiking might get cancelled due to weather, but it turned out to be just a quick little drizzle and we were able to get some sun afterward.  We bushwhacked off trail, around a ridge and into the Snow Lake drainage.  From here, we hiked up to Snow Pass and summited an unnamed peak of 12,835 ft. between Mount Valhalla and Snow Peak.  This area was stunning.  I just could not stop taking pictures.  I mean... postcard shots in every direction.  We saw at least 4 different groups of mountain goats along the way.  From the time we left camp until the time we returned, we didn't see another humans soul (Other than two specs of people on top of Grand Traverse Peak in the distance).











Snow Lake





Snow Peak and Snow Lake

Snow Peak - Prints available



Couple of quick scrambling moves to the top.

Grand Traverse Peak and Deluge Lake (left) with Mount Valhalla (Right)

Snow Peak from Point 12,835



We found our way back to camp in the afternoon in time for more thunderstorms to move in.  The sunset that night and sunrise the following morning were more fiery due to cloud cover.  The next morning right as I was setting up my tripod to shoot the sunrise I hear this loud, rapid thumping in the trees.  Suddenly, a big white mountain goat comes running through the field at full speed being chased by a dog.  I didn't realize they could move so fast!  It outran the dog easily and then leaped across a 5 or 6 foot stream which neither the dog nor any normal human could do.  Eventually the dog figured out a way around the stream and continued up the hill after the goat until it disappeared. 


Deming Mountain and West Deming Sunset - Prints available

Sunrise over Mt. Silverthorne - Prints available


I've attached a link of some time-lapse videos from the trip below:



The hike out went quickly and pleasantly as usual with lighter packs.  Thanks for a fun weekend in the Rockies Tim!




Thursday, July 26, 2018

High Lakes in Wild Basin - July, 2018

Reflection of Mt. Alice in Thunder Lake in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park Colorado
Thunder Lake - Prints available

After hiking up to a high lake in Wild Basin this past week, I realized that this was the longest (distance) hike I've ever done.  In all the mountain climbing and 14er adventures, I've never gone more than 16 miles in a single day.  This one broke the 16 mile mark according to Tim's gps, which I'm sure is a reason why images of this area are rare.  We had a perfect partly cloudy day with perfect weather for this outing.  I'll just share some shots from the hike:

Ouzel Falls with a sunburst in Rocky Mountian National Park, Colorado
Ouzel Falls

Wild Basin cabin with elephant head wildflowers and Mt. Alice in Rocky Mountain National Park
Elephant Heads and Mt. Alice

Thunder Lake

Longs and Meeker
Lake of Many Winds




Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Lulu Mountain - July, 2018

Cami at Thunder Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Cami at Thunder Pass


Cami and I had our annual backpacking adventure last week.  We chose to hike in to the American Lakes area to the northwest of RMNP in the evening and then wake early to hike up Lulu Mountain (12,228 ft.) for sunrise.  This was the first time for both of us visiting the Neversummer mountains.  It was a nice easy backpack to the Michigan Lakes and the hike up Lulu is gentle on tundra.  I'd highly recommend this as a day trip or backpack as the views up there were stunning.  Also, the Michigan Lakes had a TON of fish in them.

On our hike in we were startled by two bull moose on the trail.  We stopped walking as soon as we saw them.  They stood on the trail just staring at us.  Molly started to approach the animals despite our yelling at her.  As she got closer, the largest bull started moving toward her (and us) like it was about to charge at her.  Molly immediately stopped pursuing and tucked her tail and ran back to Cami and I.  Whew!  Smart dog!  These animals did not seem even slightly afraid of us.  We waited on the trail here for maybe 20 minutes until the moose lost interest and wandered into the forest.

Neversummer mountains bull moose wildlife


The rest of the hike was uneventful and we reached our campsite at treeline about sunset.  It was a beautiful, peaceful place and we could tell that we had the whole area all to ourselves.


Lulu Mountain (right)


We woke the next morning and as soon as we got out of our tent, we saw a pair of eyes reflected in our headlights looking at us from in the forest.  Another animal encounter!  This time it was just a deer.  As we hiked toward Thunder Pass we also scared off a pair of cow elk.  We reached a high shoulder below the summit as sunrise began.



Neversummer Sunrise - Prints available


Nohku Crags

Here's a link to a gopro time-lapse video of the sunrise:



We stayed here for a while and had a snack, then continued up the last little section of the peak.  You could only barely make out all the rest of the National Park to the south and west due to the smoke from all the wildfires.

Long Draw Reservoir from the top of Lulu Mountain, Colorado

Longs at center in the distance
mt. Richthofen Mount Neversummer Mountains RMNP Colorado
Mt. Richthofen

Thunder Pass




Michigan Lakes and Static Peak

Static Peak and Michigan Lakes American Lakes area of Colorado State Forest with wildflowers

The Crags from a ridge above our camp.