Sunday morning I looked out my window (5000' elevation), and could see the flat surface of Long Peak's wall, with plenty of snow in the vacinity. I would soon be getting an up front view, within a mile of this monstrous cliff.
distance: 8.4 miles roundtrip
starting elevation: 9400'
summit elevation: 11800'
cumulative gain: 3500' (according to watch)
The trailhead was an hours drive from the Fort Collins Library, where I met up with Deepti, very near the Twin Sisters trailhead we hiked 3 weeks ago.
The ranger at the trailhead said there was new snow from the storm yesterday, and possible avalanche conditions. So we didn't know if we'd be able to make it to Chasm Lake, without crampons and poles.
The trail was well marked. After all, this trail leads to the Summit of Long's Peak too. We soon hit snow, and wondered how we would manage in our plain boots. Deepti stops on a bridge to take a pic.
Over half of the hike was above treeline. This sign was posted near border. Yes, don't stand near your horse during a storm. Let him attract the lightning bolt, and stay clear!
As we gained ground, the wall of Long's came into view.
2.5 miles in, we came to this crossroads, and headed towards Chasm Lake. The view kept getting better.
Plenty of snow to walk on, but fortunatley it was fairly well hard packed. Twin Sisters (behind Deepti) had more snow now than it did 3 weeks ago when we hiked it.
0.7 miles from that last signpost, we ended up at another junction, with a near full on view of Long's and Meeker (to the left).
It was quite stunning. There was even some wooden posts here to tie your horse.
This is my new desktop background (replacing Glen Coe, Scotland after it served a full year).
There was a pretty nice latrine built way out here too.
At first we thought the little pond in the lower left was Chasm lake, but that didn't make sense, elevation-wise, so we figured it was further on and around the bend.
Here's the 180 degree view, looking back east to the plains (5000').
Once we got around the next bend, we saw the sloped snow field that the ranger warned us about.
If the snow started sliding, you'd slide down with it, quite a ways... (also, check out the waterfall on the left)
Did we turn back? nope. Deepti and I have been trekking in snow on the last few hikes, and so we warily made our way across. The surface seemed pretty solid, and many people had been by already, so we felt pretty safe. Peacock pool is on the right.
I heard frequent cracking noises, and would look up to see icicles breaking off from above, and smashing into small and smaller pieces as they tumbled down the cliffs, landing near the path.
It helped to lean uphill a bit.
Across the chasm, I could see the aftermath of an avalanche. You can barely see a few tiny black specks near there, where some guys hiked up to investigate it.
After the snow field, we reached a small field and had one last snowy ascent to go before the chasm, and Long's huge wall were smack dab in front.
It helped to lean uphill a bit. (pic actually taken on the way back down)
It was a steep snowy climb, and once I got there, I found that Chasm Lake was still frozen, and snow covered.
There were some little furry creatures running around, marmots, I believe. Somehow they survive up here, even in all the wintery conditions.
We saw an avalanche! Half way down this pic, follow the snow to the right, until you hit the sunlight. We heard a loud roar, and turned to see that snow pouring over that ~500ft cliff!
BTW, from the lake (11800') to the tip of Long's Peak (14230') is over 2400' difference. You could stack two World Trade Center towers here and not fill the gap (I like to measure heights in units of Twin Towers). Truly a sight you have to witness in person to comprehend the majesty.
The lunch spot. We ate, and listened to the fairly constant crackle of ice falling and breaking down the rocky cliffs.
I watched the 3 guys return from their hike to the avalanche in that valley.
The ridge line above was extrememly jagged.
On the way back, I ran down the snowy slope, while Deepti preferred the "stay low to the ground, and go slow" approach.
Once again we had to cross the snow field. Yikes! It's steep, and I slipped!
(thanks to Deepti for tilting the camera to add some danger)
I wondered if I could roll a small snow ball downhill, and have it turn into a giant one at the bottom. Turns out they turn into big discs. Deepti and I did some snow bowling. The experienced mountaineers behind us didn't seem to concerned with our actions, and the ground felt solid, so we felt ok doing this.
One last pic, looking back at the mighty Long's Peak, adjoining mountains, and treacherous snow field. So beautiful!
Then a couple of pics taken on the way back. Twin Sisters seemed to have lost a lot of snow since the morning, once the sun could hit it's west side.
Sweet hike. Got wet feet, but the weather was pleasant, and the views were clear.
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