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.

1 comment:

Sasquatch said...

Squirrel murderer! Nice photo of you feeding the squirrel. Where's the photo of you holding onto the dead squirrel you stomped on? What a hypocrite. Somehow you managed to take pictures of each and every trail sign on your hikes of late, but can't find the one and most important one on our Lumpy Ridge run??? Are you enjoying the elk of late? Welcome to Estes Park, the land of fenced in trees and shrubs.