We drove past Round Mountain (a previous hike Deepti and I did), all the way to Estes Park. The trailhead was 45 miles from my apartment, a one hour drive. When you see the pics from this hike, just 45 miles away, you'll want to move out here too.
distance: 7.5 miles roundtrip
starting elevation: 9200'
summit elevation: 11400'
We arrived at the trailhead, which was across the street from a road. There were a couple other cars in the parking lot, and other hikers we saw weren't bringing any snow equipment, so we felt more confident that we wouldn't have to turn back due to snow.
We had to walk up a .25 mile road to get to the trail. The road probably opens on Memorial day. There were cool toothpick-like pine trees lining the road.
After some a short while, a view opened up of Long's Peak.
The trail went from little snow, to half snow, half ground...
To more snow...
To all snow (and a steep hill).
All the while, the trail sloped gently with over 20 switchbacks up the mountain. Eventually we hit the tree line, and could see some nice views.
Once we hit treeline, the snow thinned a bit, and had to hike through a boulder field.
The boulder field offered nice views to the north and east.
I decided to cut straight up the boulder field, skipping the switchbacks, and crested the mountain to find this view.
I continued a bit further, and saw Wendy had followed me up. The rock outcrops on the right looked prime for climbing. But first I wanted to find Deepti, who had been ahead and was still on the trail.
I climbed the nearby ridge to see if I could find her on the other side.
From the ridge, I had a good view of Longs Peak, and Wendy (look in the bottom left corner of this 4 pitch vertical shot).
Fortunatley Deepti popped up along the ridge. She found a challenging route a bit further up the trail.
So Wendy made her way up the rocky ridge to join us, and we found a spot for lunch
But first we took lots of pics along the ridge. (scroll to the right to see Wendy and Deepti)
We hung out for a long time on the ridge, and fed chipmunks food, and finally decided it was time to head down, cause the clouds were looking a bit menacing.
Just then it started snowing, even though the sun was still shining ahead and behind the cloud.
I remembered those cool looking rocks as I manuevered down the ridge, and ran ahead to scramble up the rock. I asked Wendy to stay back and take some pictures.
Here's me climbing the rock (look for the yellow backpack) midway up on the right.
Super sweet pic of me (the little speck on the rock), and Long's Peak in the background.
Here's my view back at Wendy, and the ridge we ate lunch on behind her (a pretty decent scramble in itself).
Wendy and Deepti also decided to scramble up the rock, and I went down and scrambled up the slightly taller rock nearby.
Once I got to the top, I saw Wendy and Deepti the rock I was just at, below.
Climbing these rocks was awesome, and this mountain had lots of cool areas to explore, but the clouds were still menacing, so we climbed back down and didn't hang around any longer.
We made our way back down across the boulder field.
Deepti and I weren't too keen on this dark cloud moving our way. But it ended up passing harmlessly.
There were lots of cool, twisted looking trees near the treeline.
Coming down was fast, cause you pretty much had to run down the snow hills. I climbed a rock on the way back, as I waited for Wendy to catch up.
The snow on the trail eventually thinned, and we passed an occastional lookout towards Long's peak.
We reached the bottom, and it was hot and sunny. We decided to check out the lake across the road, and took another short hike.
Twin Sisters was the best hike yet, and just 1 hour away. The drive through the Big Thompson canyon to get there and back is always entertaining. I'll be back to Estes Park again soon no doubt...
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