Hikemastering for YMCA of the
(May 26 – August 20, 2009)
(updated at the end of 2009’s hiking season)
Scott’s Top 20 Hikes of Summer 2009 with the YMCA of the Rockies
Honorable Mentions: (1) Ptarmigan Tarns (July 8)
(4) Chasm Lake (June 29) (5) Ute Trail West (July 18) (6) Signal Mountains (August 10)
20, 2009 (Black and Blue Lakes):
Mom, Dad, Matt, Christine, and I took a hike to Black and
19, 2009 (Wild Basin Loop Tour): My parents have already been here a
few days, and now my brother Matt and his wife Christine have joined us in
August 18, 2009 (Taylor Peak and Andrews Glacier): The days of my parents doing the “small” hikes are apparently over! This day, they joined me for one of the biggest hikes they’ve ever done: Taylor Peak (13,153 ft, 17th ranked peak in RMNP)! It marks my mom’s 5th and my dad’s 6th 13,000+ ft mountain in RMNP, so each of them has now done one-quarter of the 13-ers in the entire RMNP. From Bear Lake, it is a full 7 miles to Taylor’s summit, much of it off-trail. I gave no thought to taking them down via a different route (didn’t want to do anything fancy), but my dad said it might be his only chance to go down Andrews Glacier (which sits in the saddle between Taylor and Otis). I was a little apprehensive about this idea at first, but we gave it a try and I soon realized that my parents LOVED sliding down the snow! We took it slow and conservative, but it was still fun, and much more interesting and less effort than bouldering down or returning via the route we had ascended Taylor. The 2 AM alarm call was well worth it in the end—albeit a tad cold and windy, the weather, the scenery, the conditions, and the quality experience were all perfect! This is a day I will remember for the rest of my life. Mom and Dad, I’m so glad you got to do this with me. I love you!
August 17, 2009: After a fairly long 13+ mile hike on August 16 and plans to summit one of RMNP’s tallest peaks, Taylor, on August 18, my parents and I decided to rest up today!
16, 2009 (Bob, Betty, and King Lakes): I took my parents to
August 15, 2009 (Emerald Lake): Probably my last formal YMCA hike of the 2009 summer --- a short 3.6 mile roundtrip hike to Emerald Lake, along a very popular trail up from Bear Lake. I was feeling rather lousy from the 33+ miles done the two previous days, so I’m glad this was all I had to do! Ten YMCA guests joined me, and I think everyone had a good time. We stayed dry and cool, and none of the guests had seen this area before, so it was fun to show it to them!
August 14, 2009 (Hiamovi, Watanga, and Adams Peaks): Never heard of ‘em? Hehehe, no problem, neither had I !!! Former hikemaster (2008) Billy Sanders has wanted to climb these peaks for over a year, so together with his sister, Hikemaster Louisa, as well as Hikemaster Tony and myself, we set out on this 15+ mile adventure in the far, far southwestern portion of RMNP and northwestern corner of Indian Peaks Wilderness. Hiamovi is in IPW and is the highest summit (12,398 ft) of the three, Watanga is on the border of RMNP and IPW, and Adams (lowest of the three peaks at 12,160 ft) is in RMNP. Unfortunately, this hike was filled with quite a bit of stress. Following a late start and 2 hour drive, we were met with rainy weather that made much of the terrain treacherous and rough. I would have been happy to cut losses and head home since the views were fleeting and largely blocked by clouds anyway, but I was in the minority. We hiked very slow over the slick terrain, and after slow drivers on Trail Ridge Road, I arrived home much later than expected. Mom and Dad were very worried, as our phone connections weren’t working out and I didn’t find them until well after 8 p.m. (missed dinner too). In the end, I decided I probably should’ve waited for another time to try these peaks—and cloudy skies at 2 AM should’ve been my first clue….OK, I got it off my chest! I’m better now J It was still very cool to go to this new area I’d never seen…I’m sure the positive aspects will remain with me, and the negative ones will fade soon!
August 13, 2009 (Gibralter Lake and St. Vrain Glaciers): Hikemaster-in-training, Jackie Plummer, took over this hike from me, and I went along as evaluator and “guest”. In fact, I was one of 6 guests who were treated to some of the best scenery you can find in Colorado! As usual, the Indian Peaks Wilderness proves to be every bit as good as RMNP at providing breathtaking scenery. The hike was 18 roundtrip miles, but it was worth every step. Verdant valleys, lush streams, endless fields of wildflowers, blue skies, austere peaks, pretty glaciers, and so much more were offered on this hike that will no doubt rank as one of 2009’s best. All hikers were well-impressed and well-satisfied with this experience, and once you see the pictures, you’ll understand why!
August 12, 2009: No hiking, as the Longs Peak hike canceled (thankfully). I’ve gotten very little sleep for several days and need to catch up on that and many other things! Also, got big hikes August 13 and 14, followed by my parents’ 2nd trip to RMNP this summer! It’s gonna be a busy two weeks!
11, 2009 (Chiefshead Peak): Hikemaster Martha and I led a group of 4
YMCA guests to the summit of RMNP’s 3rd highest peak: 13,579
10, 2009 (Signal Mountains): Billy Sanders requested this hike, but
was too worn out from the epic
09, 2009 (Stones Peak): One of the best hikes of the summer was
coined by Billy Sanders (2008 YMCA Hikemaster) as the “Variation on the
No hiking. I was in Portland, Oregon with colleagues and a sizable group of former students for MathFest! Here, I received my 2009 national teaching award from the Mathematical Association of America: the Henry L. Alder Award for outstanding teaching in undergraduate mathematics. I had an awesome following of students at the conference, 6 of whom made mathematical presentations of their own while they were there. All of them gave terrific talks, got some great questions from a very interested audience afterwards, and represented CSUF extremely well! Most of all, I am thankful to all of the students (MyViet, Kyle, Jairo, Christine, Jamie, Amy, and Nora) who came all the way to Portland to help me celebrate the Alder Award…I will never forget it. I will also never forget the countless many other students who could not make it to MathFest, but who have inspired me, energized me, and helped me fall in love with my profession so much. Teaching is not work to me, but a 100% joy and pleasure that gives me more satisfaction and fulfillment than anything else in my life ever has. Thank you, students, ever so much! I love you!
August 05, 2009 (Wind River): Once a week, the YMCA hiking program offers a hike with no particular destination in mind, just a pleasant, leisurely stroll on a trail as far as time and hiker interest permits. Since I have to be in Denver for a flight to Portland by evening, I wanted to have exactly such a hike for this day, so I signed up for Wind River, near the YMCA. I had 11 guests, including 84-years young “Uncle Brent” Washburne. These “ramble hikes” were largely instituted for him, so that he could continue getting out on hikes without the worry of hiking pace and destination concerns. He and the whole group did great—we hiked around 2 miles up the trail, enjoyed a brief snack, and then headed back to the YMCA by 1:00 p.m. It was fun and stress-free!
August 04, 2009: No hiking. I’m trying to get ready for Portland!
03, 2009 (Pinnacle Pool): My
August 02, 2009 (Deer Mountain): I’ve avoided the Deer Mountain (10,053 ft) hike for years, but finally gave in….and what a great hike it was! The 3-mile one-way hike up to the summit is really pleasant with great views of Longs Peak, the Front Range, and the Mummy Range. Even better than the hike was the company! The Arkfields (Danny and Joey) from Omaha are back—as they are every year! I’ve done Pagoda and Alice with them, and I’m told I’m their favorite hikemaster J hehehe… I’m pretty fond of them too! Their good buddy Travis Hughes is back again as well—I half expected him to be working at the YMCA en route to a hikemaster position in the future, but he got a great internship instead. But great to see you again, Travis! Don’t get struck by lightning again this year! And long-time YMCA and RMNP hiker Jan joined the crowd and got involved in a lot of fun, chatty conversation all the way up and down the trail. Both Joey and Danny are serious music students (Danny is studying at Northwestern and knows my brother’s horn teacher Gail Williams), and Joey is also very interested in math and asked me lots of interesting math questions! Needless to say, these 4 guests were about the most fun group I’ve hiked with all summer long, and with them, the hike just seemed to run itself effortlessly—great to see you all again!
01, 2009 (Storm Peak):This was supposed to be a
31, 2009 (Gorge Lakes): With Hikemaster Tony, I co-lead an awesome
hike into one of RMNP’s most remote areas: the
July 30, 2009 (Bible Point): I led a reunion hike for the Martin Family from the YMCA grounds up to Bible Point, a short 1 mile hike upward to a pretty overlook of the YMCA and RMNP. Fifteen folks joined me for this short jaunt to the burial site of Edwin Bradt, who loved this area and contributed to the early days at the YMCA, but died at age 18 in the year 1918. Many reflections, a bible, and a journal are contained in a mailbox at this site to honor the man who died here much too young.
29, 2009 (Baker Mountain): I turned a *very popular*
July 28, 2009: I taught the Hikemaster-in-training class (topic: Subalpine Ecosystem). In the morning, I hiked from Bear Lake to Dream Lake to prepare the class…no problem. But later in the day, when I taught the class, the class and I got caught in the biggest thunderstorm I’ve experienced yet this summer just below Dream Lake. Heavy rain and hail soaked us, and the class was cut considerably short…oh well! I hadn’t been this wet in a long time!
July 27, 2009: No hiking. The Portland presentation is keeping my full attention when I’m not hiking, and I’ve got students to help prepare as well. Also, new problems with Ginger arose…she had to be moved yet again, and one of my car tires appears to be going flat. Welcome to the busy life at the YMCA. No time, and the big hikes are coming at week’s end again! Yikes! Then again, most of this busy-ness is the stuff I love to be busy with J, so I won’t complain.
July 26, 2009: No hiking. I went to Boulder to run some errands and worked hard on my presentation for Portland, Oregon’s MathFest on August 7.
25, 2009 (Mount Alice and Chiefshead Peak): First it was supposed to
July 24, 2009: No hiking. Devil’s Thumb Loop canceled, possibly a good thing in light of having just hiked 31 miles during a 36-hour stretch of time. Sleeping in is a wonderful thing sometimes!
July 23, 2009 (Wild Basin to East Inlet Continental Divide Hike over Boulder-Grand Pass): Hikemaster Tony and I took 3 guests (including Hikemaster Matthew going as a guest, a YMCA staff member, and long-time YMCA hiker Clint Butler, whose been dying to see Lake Verna!) across the Continental Divide on an 18-mile hike from the Wild Basin Trailhead to the East Inlet Trailhead. As you’ll read in the captions, we had a couple of fiascos (one involving a forgotten camera of Matthew’s and another involving a snow dilemma at Lake of Many Winds). As a result, we arrived about an hour late in Grand Lake, but still had time to devour Grand Lake Pizza before returning back across Trail Ridge Road in YMCA-provided vans. The hike involved 6 wonderful lakes. I picked Lake of Many Winds as my favorite, with Lake Verna as runner-up. Everyone else picked Verna as their favorite. I took fewer pictures than before, since I did the hike previously (July 10, 2008), so check that date’s photos for more images of this spectacular hike!
July 22, 2009 (Parika Peak and Farview Mountain): I took a great hike (YMCA “B” grade) on Mom’s birthday this year, one of the best hikes of the summer! It got me to the back side of the Never Summer Mountains. Parika Peak and Farview Mountains are 12,200-12,400 ft tall, and made for a 13.5 mile roundtrip adventure that led us past the gorgeous Parika Lake at treeline. I’ve never seen the hills so green, so flower-covered….breathtaking views awaited us at every turn. We also saw a moose! Par for the course on RMNP’s west side. Actually, we were in the Never Summer Wilderness west of RMNP…WAYYYYY west!
July 19-21, 2009: No hiking. My hikes canceled throughout this period, leaving me free to focus intensely on mathematics. It was very productive and very much needed!
July 18, 2009 (Ute Trail West): It’s Mom and Dad’s last day in RMNP after a 3-day backpacking extravaganza. They wanted something fairly short and relaxing to rest their weary muscles. Most such things in the park tend to be very crowded, especially this weekend (free admission to the park), but I am full of good ideas J RMNP has so much to offer, and after countless trips to the park, Mom, Dad, and I had never tried to hike the Ute Trail West. Perhaps this is because it is best done with access to 2 cars, with one of them parked at the Alpine Visitor Center and the other at Milner Pass on the west side of RMNP. In between, we find 4.1 miles of very easy, slightly downhill trail, affording incredible views of the Never Summer Range, the Gorge Lakes area, Forest Canyon, and the plethora of tundra wildflowers in bloom this time of year. It was a great hike, and a great way for Mom and Dad to end a terrific week of hiking that included numerous new destinations! I think they loved it!
July 15-17, 2009 (Backpacking in the Mummy Range, Fairchild Mountain): Mom, Dad, and I set off mid-morning on Wednesday, July 15, en route to a campsite 6.4 miles uptrail at Lawn Lake. We stayed 2 nights and enjoyed gorgeous weather throughout our time. On the second day, we hiked steeply to the summit of Fairchild Mountain, RMNP’s 6th highest peak (13,502 ft.), marking one of the most challenging mountaineering experiences my parents have ever had. They did fabulously, and we took our time, enjoyed incredible scenery and wildflowers, and had a wonderful time camping at pretty Lawn Lake. We also got to enjoy Crystal Lakes at the base of Fairchild on our hike down from the summit. It is truly wonderful to have been able to share this special trip with my folks, and every time I gaze at Fairchild in the future, I will surely remember the great time the three of us spent together in that remarkably pretty area of RMNP.
14, 2009 (Second Hike: Lily Mountain): With hopes for good
late-afternoon weather, I signed up to lead a sunset hike up
July 14, 2009 (First Hike: Twin Sisters): My parents and I took our final “tune-up” before heading into the Mummy Range for 3 days of backpacking and high-altitude “peak-bagging”. We’ll see how that goes, but in the meantime, we all did great getting up 11,500 ft. Twin Sisters. It was Mom’s first-ever climb to the summit, and my Dad’s second. Great to get them up here! Weather was perfect and the views sensational!
July 13, 2009 (Loomis Lake): Three great YMCA hikers joined me for this 9 miles roundtrip hike to Loomis Lake, that included 1 mile of serious bushwhacking. Loomis is a gorgeous, remote, seldom-visited lake not far from Fern and Spruce Lakes. We got nailed in a hail and lightning storm on the trip down, which is shocking after you see all the photos of perfectly blue, clear skies all morning long. Guess it’s good we started early! It was my 2nd trip to Loomis Lake, but my first chance to spend any substantial time at it….the weather was perfect and a good time was had by all. Thanks for coming to Glenn, Jamie, and Richard! Great hikers!
12, 2009 (Finch Lake): Mom and Dad joined me for an 8.3 mile hike in
July 11, 2009 (Bierstadt Lake): Mom and Dad are at the YMCA for the next week, and this is their first day in town. We took a leisurely hike from Bear Lake to Bierstadt Lake, and then hiked down to the Bierstadt Lake trailhead. Mostly downhill! YMCA staff members Carol and Sarah (both of whom have hiked with me before) came along too---it was a lot of fun!
July 10, 2009 (Desolation Peaks): Hikemaster Tony loves this hike and has done it twice before! It was great to get to go with him, as the route-finding near the two summits is rather tricky and some exposed scrambling and climbing is required to reach these summits. Definitely not good for those afraid of heights or faint-hearted. Still, they were worth every step, gave great views of the Never Summer Mountains, the Gorge Lakes amphitheater, and the Mummy Range. Desolation Peaks are the highest summits in RMNP under 13,000 feet, and having climbed them, the new highest peak that I haven’t done is Mount Julian (in the Gorge Lakes amphitheater). I’ll get to that one soon, I hope! Enjoy these unique pictures into the northern portions of RMNP!
July 09, 2009 (Snowdrift Peak): One of the best hikes of the summer! Hikemasters Matthew and Tony joined me for this 16.6 mile roundtrip hike that took us up Flattop Mountain (amazing sunrise!) and down the other side, then up to one of the least viewed, least visited, and most remote and scenic areas of the park. Snowdrift Peak looks as majestic as a mountain should look, and the views in every direction were amazing, despite the relatively low 12,274 ft. summit altitude. Great weather, great company, great views, and much to lure me back to this remote region….what else could you ask for! How about a good night’s sleep??? J Well, Mom and Dad will be here tomorrow….can’t wait!
08, 2009 (Ptarmigan Tarns): After trying (not too successfully) to
catch up on “life” all morning at the YMCA, I decided to try a
half-day hike to Ptarmigan Tarns high in
07, 2009 (Circle of Lakes): This 8 mile loop hike begins at
July 06, 2009 (Mount Lady Washington): ….with a twist! I got to take Jon Knox (YMCA staff member at the mini-golf course and first-time Colorado visitor) up his first 13er ever! He did great and we enjoyed terrific weather atop RMNP’s 13th highest summit. But Jon and I must have been thinking alike---from Lady Washington’s summit, we gazed down on Chasm Lake 1500 feet below and decided we wanted to go down to it. Jim Cline had discussed this option with me just one week earlier on my YMCA Chasm Lake hike. There are lots of cliffs in the area, but miraculously, my intuition about the route was right on the money and led straight to the boulder-laden gully that is passable. The result: incredible never-before-seen perspective on Chasm Lake and the deep cirque beneath Longs Peak. Indeed, it was my closest and most personal encounter with Longs Peak’s “diamond face” ever. The unique descent route made this hike into a great loop hike! Enjoy the photos of a great day in RMNP!
July 05, 2009: No hiking. A great day to enjoy Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 and catch up on laundry and math!
July 04, 2009 (Mount Audubon and Paiute Peak Loop): Hikemaster Matthew and I arose at 4 AM for a hike up Mount Audubon, with the intention of going an extra 0.9 miles along a ridge to Paiute Peak. Things looked rather grim at first with low clouds and fog blocking all views and encouraging the winds. Views were absent atop Audubon (13,209 ft) and just started when we reached Paiute (13,088 ft). Had the fog stayed, we would have been forced to return via the same route, but as it lifted and revealed the valley below containing Blue and Upper Blue Lakes (2nd and 7th highest lakes in IPW), we were encouraged about completing the “loop”. It was really fun and a great hike. I should have stopped there. Instead, I drove 2.5 hours to Laramie, WY only to get rained out on a concert and had to drive 2.5 hours back home. The concert (Eric Church and the Lost Trailers) will be re-scheduled, forcing another such road trip. Ughhh, can’t afford to lose sleep for a pointless drive! Oh well….at least the hike was awesome!
July 03, 2009: No hiking.
02, 2009 (The Loch): Seven YMCA hikers joined me for a standard hike
through Glacier Gorge to the
July 01, 2009 (Pear Lake): After several early mornings, I decided that a bit of sleeping in would be good. Night owl Mareike had no objections! We decided to try a lake that I have only seen in 4:30 AM pitch darkness (August 10, 2008 Ouzel-Ogallala Peak hike of 21 miles) in recent memory: Pear Lake. The lake is a rather long hike (7 miles), and with our late start, I was not sure how the day would go. It turned out great, we made it all the way up to this very pretty spot, enjoyed a great deal of solitude, some pear at Pear Lake, and a cool rain shower on the descent. I took Mareike down the spur trail to Calypso Cascades to build a nice loop into the trip. It was scenic, fun, new, and full of adventure! Mareike has sure brought good weather our way here in RMNP, with 4 great hikes over the past 5 days. Thanks, Mareike!
30, 2009 (Spectacle Lakes): I hiked to
June 29, 2009 (Chasm Lake): Wow, what an all-star line-up for this incredible hike! My inspiration and the first hikemaster I met, Hikemaster Jill, came along at my request (and Ken’s authorization) in the event that some (but not all) hikers were uncomfortable crossing the snowfield below the lake. No hikers had trouble, but I was still glad to have her company on the trip! Thanks, Jill, ever so much, not just for this hike but for inspiring me to be a hikemaster! It’s been a dream!!!! My friend Mareike enjoyed a 3rd great day of weather to hike in RMNP on her visit from southern California—she seems to have brought great weather with her—thanks Mareike! Then we have veteran YMCA hikers Clint Butler, John Adkins, and Jim Cline! Many years of combined experience for these great guys! That makes for lots of great stories. You won’t meet 3 nicer guys, and I just love hiking with each of them so much! The weather was perfect and the lake was gorgeous on this early summer day at the base of Longs Peak!
28, 2009 (Lake Isabelle): My first trip to
27, 2009 (Odessa and Fern Lakes Loop Hike): This 9-mile loop hike
passes 3 major lakes (Helene,
26, 2009 (Finch Lake and Calypso Cascades Loop): One of my
25, 2009 (Powell Peak and Andrews Glacier): My last 13-er to be
climbed in RMNP is
June 24, 2009 (Jackstraw Mountain): Jackstraw is a winner! I believe it could be the nicest summit under 12,000 ft. in RMNP!!! The views of the Never Summer Mountains are unsurpassable! The peak sits at 11,704 ft. Cal State Long Beach professor and long-time friend from graduate school at U.C. Berkeley, Will Murray, joined me again for this hike---I picked a hike across the Continental Divide on the west side, so that Will could enjoy the incredible drive across Trail Ridge Road and hopefully get another good hike. It definitely happened as planned. Great hiker (and lawyer from Tennessee) Clint Butler came along for a second day in a row as well, as well as a church music director in Chicago (Richard Clement), whom I’ve also hiked with in previous years. It was a great group and a great hike!
23, 2009 (Black and Blue Lakes):
June 22, 2009 (Emerald Lake): After two unsuccessful peak hikes in the past week due to windy and cold weather, this day’s weather was picture perfect and gorgeous. Naturally, therefore, I ended up stuck on a slow hike on RMNP’s most popular trail. We were supposed to go to Lake Haiyaha, but the northern slope of the ridge overlooking Dream Lake was still rather covered in snow, and my guests were not comfortable on the snow. Therefore, we changed plans and went to Emerald Lake, where dozens of people were gathered everywhere all over the rocks. All the people were even more annoying than the usual chipmunks! The weather conditions were incredible…
21, 2009 (Flattop Mountain Sunrise Hike): At 9:30 p.m. on June 20,
Hikemaster Matthew called me up with an interest of knocking off
June 20, 2009 (Shelf and Solitude Lakes): YMCA member and cancer surgeon Keith H. has tried on his own (unsuccessfully) to reach these two lakes, but decided that having a hikemaster help him find it would be better! At first, we were short on hikers, but I got YMCA staff members Sarah, Justine, and Jon to sign up so we would have a large enough group to go---they agreed, and they loved it! It was a fantastic, if tough, hike. Keith was really happy and excited to find these lakes. The story is very familiar for me. You see, 3 years ago I didn’t know how to reach these lakes either, and it resulted in my first ever YMCA hike. That’s right, my first YMCA hike ever (as a guest) was the Shelf and Solitude Lakes hike on June 27, 2006. The bushwhacking was so fun and took me to a new place in the park…I was hooked on hiking with the YMCA from that very moment on! This day, it was my turn to lead others to this incredible setting and these gorgeous, peaceful lakes.
June 19, 2009 (Sky Pond): The best day of weather for the entire summer blessed the YMCA’s hike to Sky Pond. I joined Carl Hane and a family of 3 for a wonderful trip high into Loch Vale. The area was covered in a lot of snow, but I chose not to ask the group to take snowshoes up there, a decision that turned out to be quite wise. The snow was soft and slushy and easy to build footsteps into on this warm day. The Loch, Lake of Glass, and Sky Pond were all magnificent lakes on this 9-mile roundtrip hike. Timberline Falls always represents a special challenge, especially in early summer. The falls must be climbed (nearly vertically) with hand-over-feet climbing on slippery rocks. Everyone did wonderfully with it. I also had the great pleasure of presenting a special YMCA award to one of my hikers at Sky Pond, an award that came as a big surprise to him. Check the pictures to see!
June 18, 2009 (Emerald Mountain): One of the great privileges of being a Hikemaster is the opportunity to share beautiful scenery and nature with the many visitors to the YMCA. This day, I was especially blessed in this regard. A group knows as “Boys and Girls Hope” organization visited the YMCA. Its members consist of inner city youth who have just completed high school and are college-bound in the fall (along with several of the group’s mentors). They come from all over the country to participate in this program of enrichment, character development, etc., and this year they came to the YMCA of the Rockies. Our steep hike to Emerald Mountain this day challenged many of the students, but with lots of patience and breaks along the way, we made it. I used the opportunity to draw a metaphor for them between climbing a mountain and overcoming obstacles in life. I shared my experience of earning higher education degrees as akin to climbing a mountain, and I believe my message resonated with these kids. They were wonderful, respectful, and friendly folks, and I wish them all the best as they begin their lives as college students.
June 17, 2009 (Zelma Flower Walk at Endovalley): Each June, for about 10 days, wildflower expert Zelma comes to the YMCA to lead flower walks for the guests. Each such walk requires a hikemaster in attendance to oversee logistics and safety issues, but it is essentially a “day off” for that hikemaster. Today, it was my turn J Zelma is just amazing. Her knowledge, excitement, willingness to answer questions, and so on, are so refreshing and welcome. Everyone loves hiking with her, and we wish she could stay longer. Thanks Zelma, I learned so much! We love you at the Y!
June 16, 2009 (Cub Lake and Pool Loop Hike): The warmest day we’ve had in a while around RMNP. I had 3 guests hike the 6.5 mile loop, starting up the Fern Lake trail for 2 miles to the Pool, then ascending to the ridge above Cub Lake, and then hiking down past Cub Lake and back down to the cars. It was a lovely hike, and we were back to the YMCA rather early. Good thing, since I had to prepare my Leadership and Safety class for the Hikemasters-in-Training for the evening. The class went well.
June 15, 2009 (Copeland Mountain...almost!): I awoke at 2:15 AM to leftover rain and thunderstorms….an omen that this day’s weather was going to be interesting, and indeed it was! Along with Hikemaster Matthew and YMCA staff member (mini-golf attendant) Jon Knox, I set out to climb Copeland Mountain for the second time. The first time (June 14, 2008), it ended up being my favorite hike of 2008! The conditions were summery then, but not this day. Quite the contrary, we experienced all sorts of crazy weather, and ultimately the weather proved to be too much. Jon became dangerous cold on the side of Copeland Mountain about 800 feet from the summit, and I decided that the hike needed to be called. The winds and cold became horrible above 12,000 feet, and I was concerned for Jon’s safety. Still, no regrets….the views were spectacular, the adventure invigorating, and the snow sliding the best I’ve ever experienced. Look at the pictures and watch the snow-sliding video!
June 14, 2009 (Bierstadt Lake): Bierstadt is one of the easiest lakes to reach in RMNP that actually requires some hiking. However, with help from the RMNP shuttle bus system, it can be made into a loop that is mostly downhill! We parked at the Bierstadt Lake Trailhead, but then immediately hopped on the shuttle bus up to Bear Lake. This enabled us to hike mostly downhill past Bierstadt Lake and then back down to the car. The hike includes gorgeous aspen groves, evergreen forests, and open views of the heart of the Front Range on the way down. A family of four joined a college student, Jim Cline, and myself for this pleasant and easy 3-mile stroll. It’s a classic, and I do it at least once every summer.
13, 2009 (Spectacle Lakes): I will be leading a hike to
12, 2009 (Mills Lake): Two of RMNP’s prettiest lakes take off
from the Glacier Gorge trailhead:
June 11, 2009: No hiking.
June 10, 2009 (MacGregor Mountain): I awoke this day to rainy, foggy skies and went back to bed! I guess I was tired from the trip up Trail Ridge Road the night before for our “Hikemasters in Training Snow/Ice Class” that I had to co-teach. Luckily, Hikemaster Matthew was available later in the day, so in somewhat of an unusual plan, we started hiking after lunch. Destination: MacGregor Mountain. Neither of us had ever summitted this peak, which lies just north of the Fall River Entrance Station to RMNP. The peak is only 10,486 ft. tall, but the hike has no trail and gains 2,200 feet of elevation in about 2 miles! VERY steep bushwhacking. But it was fun and took us only 4 hours round-trip! Thanks Matthew!
09, 2009 (Ouzel Falls): RMNP is not especially known for waterfalls
in the way that, say,
June 08, 2009 (MacGregor Falls): My Twin Sisters hike encountered some last minute logistical problems that necessitated a change in plans. Hikemaster Pete had a large group going to MacGregor Falls, including 83-year old veteran YMCA hiker Brent Washburn. He hikes at a pace consistent with his age, and so the need for a second hikemaster is obvious. I became the second hikemaster and helped “Uncle Brent” along. Besides, I had never visited MacGregor Falls, a fairly short hike from the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, and it’s a little tricky to find---so I was glad to learn it from Pete!
June 07, 2009 (Bridal Veil Falls): It’s the second time in a week that I’ve visited Bridal Veil Falls, but this waterfall is particularly pretty and filled full of water at this time of year. I didn’t mind the easy hike after a tough hike the day before. Unlike my previous visit, the falls was basking in sun this time around. My guest list? Three awesome college staff members at the YMCA! It was a great, chatty group, and we all had fun!
June 06, 2009 (Isolation Peak): Four YMCA staff members had plans to climb Isolation Peak this day, but they intended to hike to Bluebird Lake, go up to the peak, and return via the same route. After inviting myself along for the hike, I made two suggestions: (1) Abandon the Bluebird Lake trail in the burn area around Ouzel Lake (since Bluebird Lake is virtually inaccessible without ice axes at this time) in order to climb onto the ridge of Mahana Peak which would be much more snow-free, and (2) take a different route home, via two gorgeous, serene, remote lakes near the base of Tanima Peak. Both suggestions were well-received and came off perfectly---it’s not that often that I look like a genius, but this time I did! We summitted Mahana Peak (12,632 ft) and Isolation Peak (13,118 ft) by 10 AM, and the latter brought me within one peak of conquering all 13,000+ foot peaks in RMNP. Only Powell Peak (between McHenry’s Peak and Taylor Peak above Sky Pond) remains! It’ll be much easier than Isolation, since the hike will start 1,500 feet higher.
June 05, 2009: No hiking.
June 04, 2009 (Tourmaline Lake, via Fern and Odessa Lakes): Hikemaster Matthew has a hike to Tourmaline Lake scheduled next week, and neither he nor I has visited this lake before. We decided to scout out the hike on this day. Snow-free trail made for fast hiking for the first 4 miles to Fern Lake. This was followed by ¾-mile of alternating snowy and dry patches of trail from Fern Lake to Odessa Lake. Odessa was as glorious as I’ve ever seen it on this beautiful day in RMNP. Beyond Odessa, it was new territory (always a good thing, and becoming rarer all the time!), and entirely covered in snow. We got to enjoy a new alpine lake and a lovely snow-slide down from the ridge on which Tourmaline Lake sits. Gorgeous peaks on this hike include Flattop, Notchtop, Knobtop, Gabletop (listed from south to north). Normally from Flattop, most hikers turn south to Halletts, Otis, or Taylor Peaks, but the “Tops” to the north of Flattop are also incredibly beautiful, as Matthew and I discovered this day.
June 03, 2009: No hiking.
June 02, 2009 (East Glacier Knob): Hikemaster Matthew has a hike scheduled to the East Glacier Knob, which I hiked on June 4, 2007. Since the route-finding is a little tricky near the top with ledges, etc., I went along (as did Hikemaster Tony) for a brief 3-hour excursion from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead to reach the summit. Weather? Terrible! Couldn’t see a thing, but actually, it was fun hiking while the snow was coming down. We had a reasonably good time and stayed warm most of the trip. Got back to the YMCA in time for lunch J Definitely not summer yet around here.
June 01, 2009 (Lookout Mountain and Horsetooth Peak): Gray, overcast skies in the morning gave way to heavy rain and storms in RMNP during the afternoon. Luckily, Hikemaster Tony and I were able to complete this 6.5 miles roundtrip hike just in time before the weather came in! Lookout Mountain (10,712 ft.) and Horsetooth Peak (10,344 ft.) sit along a ridge extending east off the summit of Mount Meeker (13,911 ft, 2nd highest in RMNP) in the southeast part of the park. This hike includes an element I’ve never experienced in my years hiking with the YMCA. It was Tony’s idea, but it worked to get us to the true summit of Lookout, our first stop. What was it? You’ll have to check the pictures to see!
31, 2009 (Bridal Veil Falls): A group from
May 30, 2009 (YMCA Grounds): A large group of very young girl scouts (K-3 grades), together with their parents, are at the YMCA this weekend. I very much dis-liked “babysitting” these youngsters on a walk around the YMCA grounds. The parents were just as bad at following rules and staying together as the kids. Quite stressful and not rewarding. Please—I have too many degrees to be doing this type of work!!!
29, 2009 (Crosier Mountain): An awesome group of 9 hikers joined me
for this pleasant 8-mile trip to the summit of
28, 2009 (Emerald Mountain): I hiked with a dozen YMCA folks to the
May 27, 2009 (From the YMCA): No hiking on the schedule for me today. I tried briefly to find a legal way to get to Emerald Mountain from the YMCA grounds without crossing into private property. No luck. So I believe May 28th Emerald Mountain Circuit is going to be without the “Circuit” part!!! Look at the incredible pictures of the high peaks of the Mummy Range (most notably, Mt. Ypsilon and Fairchild Mtn.) from the YMCA on this late spring day. And you’ll also see pictures of one incredibly adorable cat in these photos as well!
26, 2009 (West Creek Falls): I began the summer hiking season with a
familiar hike to