Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rocky Mountain hikes

We were hoping to climb Mt. of the Holy Cross (a new 14er for us), but we were stymied by a closed gate.  So much for internet beta - the gate would open the following day, and it was too far to make the drive twice.  In some circumstances we would have run up the long road (and back) to tackle the climb, but we have an ultra race next weekend and figured we shouldn't go crazy even if we aren't really tapering.

So we found a trailhead in Minturn with a map posted, and decided to hike up to Grouse Lake.  It was an excellent "Plan B" for the day.  Couldn't waste a day of good weather!

The trail went along a pretty creek.  We missed a turnoff/creek crossing and did a bit of bushwhacking but eventually the trail came back to our side of the creek and all was well.

Grouse Lake and (probably) Grouse Mountain:

John had fun running down the trail, even laughing about the snow drifts.  Here he is after a particularly interesting landing, asking me, "How long do I have to hold this pose?" as I grabbed for the camera:

Yay for Colorado meadows!

Snow tunnel over the trail, funny!

John contemplating some "trail work" at one of the creek crossings:

Mountain Man pose:

Beautiful aspens:

The next day we drove to the end of Fall River Road above Idaho Springs and hiked a short way up to St Mary's Lake.  What a beautiful spot, we can see why it is popular:

We discovered that the glacier next to the lake is easy to climb.  So of course we had to do that.

Hey, we're on a glacier!

Ice topography near the top:

Once we start climbing, it's hard to find a reason to turn around.  We discovered a wide plateau at the top and decided to explore some more.  This day was slated for "recon" and we were making the most of it.

With a mountain beckoning in front of us, we started up toward it.  We got partway up James Peak but storm clouds threatened, thunder rumbled, and we decided it would be wiser to get back down.  It was a fun run back across snow fields and down the glacier.  We paused for a picture of this guy skiing up it:

Very cool.

The next day we parked at a different trailhead near the "town" of Alice and hiked in to find the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) heading toward James Peak to try again.

It was a lovely morning for hiking (and we finally managed to get started at a reasonably early hour).


Our first marmot sighting of the summer - he's in this shot somewhere...

Working our way up from one snowfield to another:

Wow, we love Colorado scenery.

A "hot tub" shaped rock shelter at the top of James Peak.  Someone needs to turn the heat on.

Rocky slope near the top:

Checking out the views in the other direction.  So many places to explore...

Peering down at Ice Lake and the next set of little lakes above Loch Lomond:


Yes, we were enjoying ourselves:

This might be Stewart Lake.  Whatever it is, it's quiet and lovely:

You're off the trail, John!

Watching ice crystals "calve" off from an ice sheet - this kept us entertained (we're easily amused by Nature shows):

Raccoon maybe?

Waterfall coming into Loch Lomond:

Excellent hiking days, capped off by a moose sighting right outside our door!

That was unexpected!

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