| A Long Weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park
Day 1 - 4 PM arrive @ Wild Basin TH, Bluebird Lake
Day 2 - Lion Lake #1, Lion Lake #2, Snowbank Lake, Chiefs Head Peak, Mount Alice, Thunder Lake, Denver
Day 3 - Red Rocks, REI, Wahoos, Longs Peak TH
Day 4 - Longs Peak (Keyhole Route), Highland Tap N Burger, Denver Beer Company
30+ miles, 12K+ elevation gain
In attendance: Dana Sanford, Dillon Sarnelli, Kevin Sanford, Miguel Gonzalez, Nathan Watts, Ray Priebe
About 6 months ago Dana called me up with this idea of a trip to Half Dome he had in the works. He wanted to know if I would be interested in coming along and I said, "for sure". A month later, plans had changed and the crew was now considering the Wind River Range in Wyoming. Another great spot and I again said, "count me in"... A few weeks later plans were changing again and I said, "Dana, you know I live in Colorado right? Why don't you all just come here and I'll be your tour guide". And so the story goes.... Below is how it unfolded.
Thursday June 21, 2012 - Kevin, Miguel, Nate and Ray flew in from Massachusetts and Dana from DC. Dana arrived a few hours early, the rest of the gang around noon. We hit up REI for some last minute supplies and the bear canisters and we were off. Destination - Wild Basin TH - Rocky Mountain National Park.
We arrive at the park around 4 PM. Ray gives the thumbs up at the Wild Basin entrance.
Wild Basin TH parking lot - Elevation 8,500 ft. These big bulky bins we are carrying around are starting to make sense now.
And we're off... Destination: North St. Vrain Campsite - Elevation 9,560, 3.5 miles from Wild Basin TH.
Nate takes in the falls from a different perspective.
Miguel says "Are you kidding me?"
plenty of spots along the way to get water
After we dropped our packs at camp we headed for Bulebird Lake, arriving just before dark. The lake is 3.3 miles (one-way) from the North St. Vrain campsite. We took a breather, enjoyed the lake, ate some trail mix (and some ibuprofen), and then headed back to basecamp using our headlamps and called it a night.
Bluebird Lake - Elevation 10,978
Friday, June 22, 2012 - Today's mission - A loop consisiting of Lion Lake #1, Lion Lake #2, Snowbank Lake, Chiefs Head Peak, Mount Alice, Thunder Lake, back to basecamp and then back to the Wild Basin TH.
North St. Vrain Campsite - Elevation 9,560 - Basecamp
We woke up a little after 7 and hit the trail around 8. Bivvy's make for a pretty quick set up/take down. Destination #1 on the day - Lion Lake #1 - 2.2 miles from camp.
Taken just before arriving at Lion Lake #1 with Chiefs Head Peak in the distance.
there are still a few pockets of snow, but nothing that would require any sort of traction, post-holing was not an issue
Mount Alice as seen from just before Lion Lake #1.
a closer look... Mount Alice - Elevation 13,310
Lion Lake #1 - Elevation 11,075 with Chiefs Head Peak in the distance.
Ray goes for a swim. He still can't feel his toes.
Mount Alice from Lion Lake #1
Next stop: Lion Lake #2, perched a few hundred feet and about a half mile from and above Lion Lake #1.
the stream and falls between Lion Lake #1 and #2 are good spot to grab some more water.
Lion Lake #2 - Elevation 11,413 (.5 miles and 338 ft. gain from Lion Lake #1).
approaching Snowbank Lake
Snowbank Lake - Elevation 11,521 (.35 mile and 108 ft gain from Lion Lake #2).
The saddle between Mount Alice (L) and Chiefs Head Peak (R) can be seen in the distance. The defined trail ends at Lion Lake #1. There are some cairns which will get you to Lion Lake #2, but from here its a choose your own adventure. We headed right, towards the eastern edge of Snowbank Lake and around to the middle of the saddle. Next Destination: Chiefs Head Peak - Elevation 13,579.
Our line was a straight shot up the middle of the saddle, immediately to the right of the snow.
approaching the top of the saddle and the continental divide
Continental Divide - Elevation 12,250
We begin the ascent up Chiefs Head.
A good view of Mount Alice and the continental divide as we ascend Chiefs Head.
Looking down on Lion Lake #1, Lion Lake#2 and Snowbank Lake from Chiefs Head.
The fire in Estes Park as seen from Chiefs Head.
Longs Peak as seen from the summit of Chiefs Head Peak
Summit of Chiefs Head Peak - Elevation 13,579, 3rd highest Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park - June 22, 2012 (approx 1.8 miles and 2,058 elevation gain from Snowbank Lake)
descending back down Chiefs Head the way we came up
Working our way across the continental divide after descending Chiefs Head (in the background). Destination: Summit of Mount Alice - Elevation 13,310 (approx 1.5 miles from summit of Chiefs Head)
Mount Alice from the saddle
Approaching the hourglass on Mount Alice
Ascending Mount Alice
Summit of Mount Alice - Elevation 13,310 - June 22, 2012
A look back at Alice from the ridge on our descent
Descending the ridge that forms a T with the saddle (this would have been a viable option on the way up if we had ascended Alice first). Lion Lakes and Snowbank Lake off to the left with Thunder Lake (not visible) to the right just below treeline. Next Stop - Thunder Lake, approx 4 miles from the Summit of Mount Alice).
Thunder Lake - Elevation 10,574
Other than a group of 3 fishing at Thunder Lake, these were the first signs of life we had seen all day.
After Thunder Lake we headed back to base camp, grabbed our overnight gear and then headed back to the Wild Basin TH to our cars (6.8 miles from Thunder Lake to the cars). We then drove back to Denver. It was a long and ambitious trek and we were beat.
Saturday June 23, 2012 - We hit up a great breakfast spot on Tennyson in the Highlands, ate way too many pancakes, drove out to Red Rocks, grabbed some gear at REI, ate way too many tacos at Wahoos and once again we were off... headed to the Longs Peak Trailhead.
its freakin hot in Denver
We arrived at the Longs Peak TH a little before 6 PM and headed for the Gobblins Forest campsite, about a mile from the TH.
Gobblins Forest site.
We were asleep before it got dark.
Sunday June 24, 2012 - Longs Peak - Keyhole route... 2 AM start - I will let the pictures tell the story from here. It was one hell of a weekend to say the least. Great having you all in Colorado and I'll see you next year in the White Mountains. Thanks for coming and come back anytime!
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