Visiting Rocky, August 2006.

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My first visit to RMNP, but not my last. Already got a return trip planned for 2007, in July. This time I'm going to do a few days backpacking in the Never Summers ranges, and go after Long's Peak again, and hit some of the northern and western trails. I mostly did the east 'popular' trails on this visit, which were lovely, but a bit crowded sometimes.

Click the link to go to the photo page for each day

Day1. Monday, August 21. First day in the park. I'd stayed at a KOA in Estes Park the night before, which was a huge mistake. Right by the busy main drag, and car noise all night long. Got up around dawn, made breakfast, and headed into the park. Imediately awed by the scenery. I'd planned a light day to acclimate. Hiked Alberta Falls, Mills Lake, Lake Hiyahaha and that area. Fantastic views. I took more pictures in a single day than I can ever remember doing. Even with sorting and deleting a bunch, there's a lot of pics on this page.

Day2. Tuesday, August 22. The plan for today was to do a trial peak bag, to test my gear (and legs and wind) for an attempt a Long's two days hence. I chose an 'easy' and popular climb, Flattop Mountain, for the day. If I had enough energy, I figured I could keep going, and do Hallet Peak as well. After a walk up flattop (very nice hike, by the way), I ate lunch on the peak, hung out for a bit, and decided to call it good enough. I was feeling ok, but didn't see any sense in pushing it farther. Humorously, there was a small group of Mennonite boys, in denim bibs, who basically ran up & down flattop & hallets and back. They had no gear except a jug or bottle of water each, and yet they sprinted by me. They'd stop for a break, I'd slowly catch up and pass them, and then they'd sprint past me some time later. I chatted with them a bit, they were very friendly. Also from Illinois, a small community in the north near Rockford.

Day3. Wednesday, August 23. Drove to the south side of the park, into the Wild Basin area, and hiked passed Ouzel Falls, Calypso Cascades, and to Ouzel Lake, a very pretty, and shallow lake. Hiked through the 'burned out' area, from a wildfire some years ago. Warm and sunny, probably my hottest day in the park, and I was at the 'lower' elevations, 7000' or so. Very nice trip, ate lunch in the shade of rocks and trees by Ouzel Lake. Set up the tripod I'd hauled along and took some self portraits.

Day4. Thursday, August 24th. My Long's Peak attempt. Sadly, I turned back before the summit, after getting to the Keyhole. The weather just didn't look inviting to try to get past the Narrows. While I didn't rain while I was there, it looked like it might at any moment, and it did spit a bit before I got back to my car. All in all, one of the most physically demanding days I've ever had. The walk up to the boulderfield wasn't bad, but that scrambling over the boulderfield to the Keyhole was a huge drain on the body, at 12,000+. Next year, I'll give it another shot. Rested a bit at the Keyhole, and then headed down. Going down was much easier... Got back to the trailhead about 9.5 hours after I'd set off. I'd started about 3 a.m., which is a little late. Next year, get started an hour earlier.

Day5. Friday, August 25th. Last day in the park, and mostly just drove Trail Ridge Road, hiked a bit, and watched the views. Headed back home in the afternoon.