Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ypsilon Mountain

Ypsilon Mountain, elevation 13,514 ft.  Eight mile round trip from Chapin Pass.  Two thousand five hundred feet of elevation gain from the Chapin Pass Trailhead.
Karen woke me up at 0530 yesterday morning and said she wanted to hike up this mountain, the fifth highest in the park.  We had already hiked up Chapin and Chiquita in previous years, so this hike would complete our quest to hike all three (CCY) of these dominant peaks rising above and to the east of the Alpine Visitors Center in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Now if you know me, you know I like to sleep in until about 0730, and I'm not a happy camper until I have my morning coffee.  On the other hand, I'm always up for a good hike, so I was happy to climb out of bed and grab the necessary gear for this hike.
Fall has already come to the tundra painting it with shades of gold, orange, and red.  We enjoyed the autumn colors on the way up.  To save time, distance, and elevation gain, we contoured around Chapin and Chiquita and headed straight up to our goal.  Views from the summit were spectacular, as you can see in these pictures.

Panoramic view from the summit of Ypsilon Mtn. looking eastward.  Those are the Spectacle Lakes more than two thousand feet directly  below us.




Karen at the start of our hike at Chapin Pass.


Spectacular reds in the ground cover.


View to the west towards the Alpine Visitor Center.


Well delineated trail as we climb out above tree line.  The trail is easy to follow until the saddle between Chapin and Chiquita.  From there, it becomes thready, tenuous, and vague.  At that point one begins looking for rock cairns to follow, or just picks a line to follow over the tundra.


 Looking north back down the Chapin Creek drainage.  Notice the beetle kill, or as the local tourism bureau likes to call them, the beautiful Rocky Mountain Red Pines.



Pica harvesting its winter food supply.


Another pica scrambling through the lichen-covered rocks.


Alpine sunflower.


Fall colors on the tundra.  Dark cliffs of Mt. Chapin rising on the right.


On our way up and around Chiquita.  Mt. Chapin rising up behind and below Karen.


Self portrait with Ypsilon Lake below us.


Spectacle Lakes 2,100 feet below.  Picture taken between two of the lesser summits of Ypsilon Mountain.


Karen (in pink) nearing the northern-most, and highest, summit of Ypsilon Mountain.


Karen at the highest, but more poorly constructed of two wind shelters on top of the mountain.


This wind shelter was a bit lower, but provided us with a more comfortable spot for our lunch break.


The real deal, full of sugar and caffeine!

We had the usual staples for lunch...apple, sandwich, gorp, granola bars and string cheese.  Pumpkin pie was a new item for us, and made for a delicious dessert.

Yours truly with Meeker, Longs, Pagoda, Chiefs Head, and McHenrys (to name just a few of the visible peaks) in the background.


That's her bandaged index finger she is displaying, not the middle finger!


View back to the southwest.  Notice the switchbacks of Fall River Road leading to Trail Ridge Road below us.  If you look closely, the Alpine Visitor's Center is at the top left of the road in the saddle of the mountain.


Looking over Karen's head at Spectacle Lakes.


Another view of the fall tundra with the Continental Divide forming the backdrop.


Our view back down the trail from the flanks of Chiquita.


Beautiful mix of greens, reds, and yellows here as we dropped back down below tree line.




Home stretch after a wonderful hike in the high country.


View of Chapin, Chiquita, and Ypsilon taken from Trail Ridge Road on our drive back home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Indian Peaks Loop September 10, 2010

This was a really beautiful and challenging loop I ran with good friend Matt Watts in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area of Colorado.  We started at the Long Lake parking lot, ran to the Mitchel Lake parking lot, and northwest up the Beaver Creek Trail to the Buchanan Pass Trail.  The Buchanan Pass Trail travels west over the Continental Divide and we took it down to the aptly named Cascade Creek Trail, which heads southeast back up towards the Divide and the Pawnee Pass Trail.  This trail took us eastward on an awesome climb to the cross back over the Divide at Pawnee Pass, elevation 12,550 feet.  From the pass we had wonderful views of Grand Lake to the west and the high plains to the east.  The trail then dropped down to Lake Isabelle where it then connected with the Long Lake Trail, which took us back to our vehicles.  Ten hours, twenty-seven miles, and eight-thousand feet of elevation gain!  I had a wonderful time and hope to do more runs in this area in the future.








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