Monday, September 21, 2009

September 2009 Happenings

Myself, Karen and old college buddy Pat. Pat stopped by for a short visit September 19th and 20th. We had a great time and wished she could have stayed longer.
Karen and Pat on top of Lilly Mountain.
On the trail to Dream Lake.

Pat at Dream Lake. Hallett Peak in the background.

A short dance break (break dance?) on the trail.

Karen and Pat on our deck.

Pat and Karen in Pat's rental vehicle on Trail Ridge Road.
September 21st, not even officially fall yet, and winter is trying to sneak in!

Ground squirrel begging for food during our lunch break at Cub Lake.
Cub Lake, September 11th.

Karen in front of changing aspens just before "The Pool".
The rut has started and these big bulls are getting frisky.
Karen and I have had to install some stronger protection for our trees. The nylon netting and plastic poles we used around the first aspen we planted were insufficient protection from the always-hungry deer and elk. So now we are going with seven foot metal posts and fourteen gauge welded fencing. Photo taken September 4th.

Sasquatch preparing for our training run around Lumpy Ridge on September 12th.
Dale brought along some beer and shared it, in spite of me missing a trail sign post and turning our fifteen mile run into a nineteen miler...four extra miles in the snow at 9,600 feet!
Scotts Irish Festival in Estes Park, September 13th. This year are friends ( and ex-neighbors in Arvada) John and Lorraine joined us for a good time at the festival.
Already a fresh dusting of snow on Meeker and Longs Peak.
John enjoying haggis and Guinness.
John, Lorraine, and I raising a glass.
Haggis, kind of like what I imagine gourmet dog-food would taste like. Went well with Guinness, though! Photo taken by Lorraine.
Karen, myself, and Lorraine. When I walked in the tent, Lorraine greeted me with, "Well, look who's here, it's Wrong Way Gerber!" Sheesh, miss one lousy trail sign and the whole world knows about it.
Karen and I took a drive to Poudre Canyon on September 15th to look for moose and found this big boy. Karen has some great video of this bull which came within ten yards of our vehicle.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Crystal Lakes Hike

Yesterday Karen and I got up and after breakfast decided to hike the Lawn Lake trail. This trail follows the Roaring River up to its origin at Lawn Lake. The earthen dam which was built at the turn of the century weakened and finally failed in July of 1982, resulting in the death of several people and the flooding of Estes Park. The flood waters carved a pass of destruction down the mountain and left a huge alluvial fan of debris in Horseshoe Park. Huge boulders were thrown and piled like pebbles and large trees were ripped out of ground and piled up like matchsticks. All of this recent history is plain to see during this hike.
As things turned out, we ended up going up beyond Lawn Lake to Crystal Lakes, a pair of beautiful mountain tarns at the base of Fairchild Mountain. Hiking distance round trip was sixteen miles with an elevation gain of 3000 feet to an altitude of 11,500 feet.

I photographed this bull elk from the trail head parking lot just after we parked the truck. He was bugling and chasing after a cow elk. The rut has just begun here in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Trail marker one or two tenths of a mile up from the parking lot.
Ypsilon Mountain rising above a forested ridge.
The rugged southeast facing slope of Mummy Mountain is easily recognizable from miles around.
Another arms-length self portrait.
Remnants of the 1982 flood.
Black Canyon trail junction.
If you enlarge this picture, you can see the earthen dam at Lawn Lake and the U-shaped hole where it collapsed in 1982. All in all, a rather disappointingly small gap considering the massive amount of damage the failure unleashed.
Lawn Lake.
Cute? Yes. One could also describe this as one corpulent ground squirrel sitting on his fat ass eating junk food (looks like a tortilla to me).
Looking eastward down at Lawn Lake from above.
Karen continuing up the trail above Lawn Lake.
Pretty mountain brook.
Arriving at Crystal Lakes.
Crystal Lakes. Little Crystal Lake is in the foreground with the larger Crystal Lake just visible at the upper left of the photograph.
Karen hiking between the lakes. This was a magical area; a maze of rock outcrops, tundra, shrubs, and krummholz, all woven around ponds and fingers of pure, clear icy mountain glacier melt.
Taking a brief break before resuming our exploration of the area.
Crystal Lake below Fairchild Mountain.
Returning down to Lawn Lake.
Karen standing in front of a wall of krummholz. These stunted groves of evergreens at treeline are beautiful to look at, but trying to force your way over or through them will usually elicit a lot of cursing on the part of the hiker.
Lawn Lake in the background. A doe and one of her two twins in the foreground.
A close up of the doe.
The ranger cabin at Lawn Lake.