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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Rocky Mountain High! (and a low) ~5 days in RMNP
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Tangeman
shred



Joined: 24 Oct 2010
Posts: 459 | TRs | Pics
Location: subject to change
Post Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:40 pm   
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Rocky Mountain High! (and a low)

Every year, we go back to Nebraska to see family. And every year, we visit some nifty place along the way - we've been to the Tetons a couple times, Yellowstone MANY times, and this year we thought of a different place for once - Rocky Mountain National Park. My dad hadn't been there in 49 years, mom's never been there and neither have I. So it should be great!

We stayed in Estes Park, and the two most popular activities of the trip were hiking and stuffing our greasy maws with equally greasy Cheese Whiz, yum.  dizzy.gif

Day 1, driving in
Just some pictures from driving there...

We stopped at Holzworth Historic site for a leg-strecher, and although the actual site was closed due to flooding, the Kawoneechee valley is still pretty.

Day 2
Chasm Lake attempt, Battle Mountain half-hearted attempt...
8 miles, 2300 feet, highpoint 11,400 feet
"Remember, s*** happens"

Ooh, two attempts, ouch. But both were not achieved for legitimate reasons...it was also this trip that the infamous 'low' took place, and I'll get to that.

We decided to do this hike first because it was semi-mellow and didn't top out to high in case someone got altitude issues. It was awesome, mainly because of two words:
LONGS PEAK.
It's east face, the Diamond, is just staring at you the whole time on this hike. It's straight-up vertical for 2000-odd feet. It pretty much had me mesmerized the whole time.

Within the last half mile or so to Chasm Lake, we reached a snowfield that was kinda (very) steep, and we didn't really want to cross it because a fall would be pretty bad for your health.

Now of course my ice axe was in the back of the car, and my crampons are a thousand miles away in my basement. So we opted to turn around, and head for Battle Mountain (12,044 feet) instead.


Now of course, NO trip is complete with some epic place to lighten your load. And I don't mean a good place to catch your breath...


Definitely ranks up there with my favorite Johns...(somewhere above John Paul Jones and below John Lennon  clown.gif ) (insert 'bad joke' comment here... hockeygrin.gif )

Now anyway.

We were back on the Longs Peak trail heading to Granite Pass, and from there to Battle Mountain. It was about halfway to the pass when the 'low' occured. Now when I'm hiking, I keep my camera strap around my neck, and have it resting in my belt case for it, with the case open.

I didn't realize it, but I had my case open without the strap on my neck. I didn't even think about it.  shakehead.gif  My toe caught a rock, and my nice, new, $600 Nikon SLR decided it would be fun to go BASE jumping.

Hearing the crack when the camera hit the ground was sickening. I dropped my trekking poles and picked it up. My first thought was "The lens!". The lens was fine. Whew. Everything else looked alright. YES! That was close!

Or so I thought.

I went to turn it on. Nothing happened.

"oh no, Oh no!!" I panicked. That's when I noticed the LCD screen was shattered and no longed worked. "No, No NO!!". I was seriously PO'd.

Thankfully, I discovered the camera could still take pictures, and I could still see my shutter speed and aperture in the viewfinder, but couldn't adjust burst, ISO, metering, use the built in editing, etc.

It could've been worse. Otherwise, this trip was awesome.

Oh, and my favorite picture of this hike. I almost forgot.


Day 3
Sundance Mtn (12,466 feet), Tombstone Ridge
4 miles, 800 feet
"We have to be taking hikes with all the crap we've been eating!" -Dad

This was just kind of our chill day, and it's interesting that here climbing a 12k mountain is a "chill day", whereas back in WA that's an undertaking.

Sundance Mtn is the highpoint of Trail Ridge, and summiting it is an easy cross country hike with some awesome scenery. After relaxing on top for a good 30 mins or so, we hiked along Tombstone Ridge on the Ute Trail for a bit just for fun.

Chilling on the summit for so long, with nothing but mountains to see in all directions, is probably one of the most relaxing, meditative times I've had in the mountains. We could see the Continental Divide to the South, The Gore Range, the Mummy Range, the Rawah Range, the Never Summer Mountains (naturally looking very wintery), the Great Plains, Estes Park, and even the Medicine Bow Mountains in Wyoming. And all topped with perfect blue skies.

It was amazing that in the bustle of one of the most popular areas of a popular national park, we had solitude.

And then to the Ute Trail...

When we got back to town I went bouldering for the first time since I injured my hands. It was great! Just some gym climbing but that's better than none at all!

Day 4
Hallett Peak (12,713 feet) and Flattop Mountain (12,342 feet)
10 miles, 3300 feet
"This trip presented many obstacles...eating a bagel being one of them" -Dad


My personal favorite trip of the trip  smile.gif , it was also the most challenging for sure.

It starts by mingling with the yuppie crowd around Bear Lake, then climbing moderately before hitting snow. LOTS of snow! From about 9800 feet to treeline (11,400 feet) was solid snow, but there was a decent, albeit meandering and slippery, bootpack, and it served was well up to treeline. That's where I saw my first ptarmigan!


This one was granite-flavored, once we got near the summit of Flattop, and saw a couple of ptarmigans that were still snow-flavored! Nice!


Speaking of the wind, it was WINDY and COLD. It was 50 degrees or so out with continous 40 mph winds. Brr, senor!


There was a gnarly cornice near the top of Flattop. We gave it wide berth. I could've sworn I had a picture of it but aparantely I didn't. Bummer.

After summiting Flattop, we had a good view of the Tyndall Glacier that rests between Hallett and Flattop. In the steepest section of the headwall, about 60 degrees at least, we saw ski tracks!  eek.gif Now I'll ski just about anything I come across but no way would I do that...scary stuff!


From here it was 1/2 mile and 300 feet up to the summit of Hallett. It's class 2. Now anything over class 1 usually slows my mom down a bit, and she decided she didn't want to continue. Dad said he'd stay with her, and I could summit on my own. Well okay then. Why not?


The last day out was uneventful, just driving to Nebraska for a family reunion, which by the way, was a blast!

On our way home we swung through Yellowstone, just touched the northern end and walked around Mammoth for a bit.


All in all an awesome vacation, it was great to see and do as much as we did. RMNP is a place I'll be sure to go back to.

--------------
"Civilization is a nice place to visit, although I wouldn't want to live there."
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RodF
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Joined: 01 Sep 2007
Posts: 1752 | TRs | Pics
Location: Sequim WA
Post Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:40 pm   
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Gorgeous photos!

If you were within 1/2 mile of Chasm Lake, must have been near the new Chasm Meadows Patrol Cabin, noteworthy because it is a completely new structure built by helicopter well within a Wilderness area (much-needed to support the numerous climbers (and frequent S&Rs) on this popular Longs Peak climbing route).

But particularly noteworthy now, given the controversy over the Green Mountain Lookout, which is merely a rehabilitation of an historic structure, not an entirely new structure within Wilderness.  (Both are perfectly legal under the Wilderness Act, by the way.)

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"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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Tangeman
shred



Joined: 24 Oct 2010
Posts: 459 | TRs | Pics
Location: subject to change
Post Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:00 pm   
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Thank you!

I was somewhat near that, I could see it and we were wondering what it's purpose was.

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"Civilization is a nice place to visit, although I wouldn't want to live there."
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Hiker Mama
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Joined: 25 Jun 2006
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Post Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:01 pm   
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That looks like a great trip!  It's pretty cool you get to do that stuff with your parents.  It's a bummer about your camera, but you still managed some tasty photos.  Thanks for sharing them!

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My hiking w/ kids site: www.thehikermama.com
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fourteen410
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Post Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:34 pm   
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wonderful! thank you so much for sharing. I love colorado. great shot of the cliffbar  cool.gif
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Tangeman
shred



Joined: 24 Oct 2010
Posts: 459 | TRs | Pics
Location: subject to change
Post Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:18 am   
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Thank you everybody!

I'll be gone for a couple more days but when I get back I'll get some more photos up!

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"Civilization is a nice place to visit, although I wouldn't want to live there."
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Foist
Sultan of Sweat



Joined: 08 May 2006
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Post Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:15 pm   
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Wow, nicely written, especially for a 14-year-old.  Great photos too.
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Gwen
LO Girl-of-the-Month



Joined: 14 Feb 2010
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Post Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:41 pm   
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I have the fondest memories of spending 3 summers roaming those trails when I was a teen.  At this point, it is a dream to be able to return to those hills.  Someday.  And yeah, Long's Peak is totally mesmerizing and it's so awesome to be able to sit on the shores of Chasm and watch the climbers scale that sheer face.
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Tangeman
shred



Joined: 24 Oct 2010
Posts: 459 | TRs | Pics
Location: subject to change
Post Mon Jul 11, 2011 12:46 pm   
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Thank you everybody!

Here's a couple pics from the return home.

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"Civilization is a nice place to visit, although I wouldn't want to live there."
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dicey
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Post Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:57 pm   
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Foist wrote:
Wow, nicely written, especially for a 14-year-old.  Great photos too.


I agree 100% up.gif

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I'm not always sure I like being older but being less stupid has advantages.
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Quark
Niece of Alvy Moore



Joined: 15 May 2003
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Post Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:39 pm   
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Tangeman, I always look forward to your trip reports. Always well-written.

I like your bad jokes, and am intrigued that your family reunion in Nebraska was a blast (never thought I'd hear the words "family reunion," "Nebraska" and "a blast" in the same sentence  embarassedlaugh.gif ).

Looks like a great vacation you guys had. - I love the buffalo herd! Check this out when you get a chance-  (my favorite sentence about buffalo)

By the way your photo titled, "yucca?" is a Columbia pucoon, or Lithospermum ruderale

--------------
"How much does a case of beer weigh?

Z, NWHikers' Backcountry Travel Consultant
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Tangeman
shred



Joined: 24 Oct 2010
Posts: 459 | TRs | Pics
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Post Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:26 pm   
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Quark wrote:
I like your bad jokes

I'm not sure whether that's a compliment or not.  biggrin.gif

Quark wrote:
(never thought I'd hear the words "family reunion," "Nebraska" and "a blast" in the same sentence  embarassedlaugh.gif ).

Who'da thunk it, right?

Quark wrote:
By the way your photo titled, "yucca?" is a Columbia pucoon, or Lithospermum ruderale

Thanks. Yucca was just the nearest thing I could come up with.

As for your favorite quote about buffalo, my friend says that alot!  lol.gif

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Matt Lemke
High on the Outdoors



Joined: 15 Jul 2010
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Post Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:47 pm   
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So I'll be the first to ask...How did you do with the altitude?

Also, you got to experience first hand the famous Colorado winds...welcome to Colorado!

Only 40 mph though is pretty weak...consider yourself lucky!

Sorry I couldn't join you as I was stuck in the beauty of the San Juans in the SW part of Colorado.

Great TR and photos...keep an eye out for my big Colorado TR to come soon.

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Quark
Niece of Alvy Moore



Joined: 15 May 2003
Posts: 14005 | TRs | Pics

Post Mon Jul 11, 2011 5:48 pm   
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Wait, that's not a puccoon afterall. I'm full of baloney. I wasn't able to view the enlarged photo earlier; just did, and I'm wrong (I suppose there's a first time for everything, right?)

I figured you'd enjoy the buffalo link - you have above average wordsmithing skills.

--------------
"How much does a case of beer weigh?

Z, NWHikers' Backcountry Travel Consultant
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Tangeman
shred



Joined: 24 Oct 2010
Posts: 459 | TRs | Pics
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Post Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:10 pm   
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Matt Lemke wrote:
So I'll be the first to ask...How did you do with the altitude?

Also, you got to experience first hand the famous Colorado winds...welcome to Colorado!

Only 40 mph though is pretty weak...consider yourself lucky!

Sorry I couldn't join you as I was stuck in the beauty of the San Juans in the SW part of Colorado.

Great TR and photos...keep an eye out for my big Colorado TR to come soon.

Thanks...the only downside of the trip was my camera going kaput. I'd probably be without it for a month or so  bawl.gif

Altitude...I did fine. The first day going over Trail Ridge Road up at 12k got me a little light headed very briefly and a mild headache, but that's it. I had been up to 10k a couple of times in years past so I wasn't expecting too much. Who we were worried about was my dad, who has asthma, but we were all fine.

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