Hey everyone! This week was another spectacular week in Rocky. We had some severe storms again but I got out for an evening sunset in the alpine and also an all day hike up to the terminus of the Taylor Glacier. I also just got word that our permit for Long's Peak was just approved for the last weekend in August so there is no backing out now. I am excited and also nervous because yesterday was the second fatality of the year on the mountain. I am unaware of the experience of either individual but it still looms in the back of your mind that there is a chance that something could go wrong. Sunset from the Alpine Visitor Center
Summit Soda Syndicate taking in the views after work
Clouds going off over the Mummy Range and Endovalley
So the plan for the big hike of the week was to head up to Sky Pond early in the am. I had heard great things about this hike but hadn't made it up there yet. The plan was to meet at the Bear Lake trailhead at sunrise and then head out on trail. The first part of the hike went quickly because we were practically the only ones on that trail. We did make a quick stop when we came across a patch of ripe raspberries.
Then just as we started to come out of the trees we were greeted with Timberline falls. This is a great waterfall and you actually have to climb through a small portion of the falls in order to continue on to Lake of Glass, Sky Pond, and Taylor Glacier. I was very surprised that this is an NPS trail because of the class 3 scramble required. If you were to fall there could be some serious injuries. But as I would soon find out, there was a reason that people of all ages and skill levels make the trek.
First Light on Timberline Falls
Once we got past the falls we made it to Lake of Glass. A few of us decided to jump in for a swim to cool off and completely get rid of the morning hangover. From there we suited back up and made for Sky Pond.
Trail between Lake of Glass and Sky Pond
Once we got past Lake of Glass and into the krummholtz, the flowers were everywhere. Columbines, gentians, bistort, primrose, louseworts, and more. It was really spectacular to see all the varieties with an amazing backdrop.
Columbines near Lake of Glass
Columbines Near Sky Pond
Once we mad it to Sky Pond we stopped and had lunch. It was only 8:30 in the morning and the weather was looking great so Jon and I decided to push on up valley to explore more of the area. In the distance we could see what looked like a terminal moraine and the promise of an unnamed tarn so we headed around the right-hand side of the lake and made our way up.
Side skirting Sky Pond
Small retention area near Sky Pond
Crossing a snow field up to the terminal moraine
Our first view looking down valley
Once we made it to the top of the moraine we were a little disappointed to find that there was no tarn, just ice and rock. The disappointment soon faded as we turned around and had this view from around 11.5K ft. Once we were at the top we were able to look over the entire valley and we decided to make our way back along a different route to explore the lush meadow on the other side of the lake.
Down Valley view from the Taylor Glacier Terminus
Making our way back down
Spectacular of the Sharkstooth Ridge, Sky Pond, and Lake of Glass
Subalpine meadow wildflowers
Falls between Sky Pond and Lake of Glass
Just as we made it to the falls we looked behind us and the clouds started to roll in. We headed back to the car only stopping for a short snack and to filter water. When we were about 2 miles away from the trailhead we heard our first thunder so we started hiking at maximum speed. We were surprised to see how many people were STARTING their hikes when lightning and thunder were rolling in. We made an effort to to inform people that we were seeing lightning, but no one seemed to care. Then as we were crossing the bridge we also saw a group of people drinking directly out of the stream that flows out of Bear Lake. We kindly told him that doing that wasn't the best idea because of the potential for giardia and cryptosporidium but he replied, "Don't knock it 'til you try it." So it seems that no matter how hard you try to help people make good choices you just gotta let them do their own thing. Just as we made it back to the Bear Lake parking lot the sky opened up and lighting was crashing directly overhead. We lucked out and only had to run about 50 yards in the rain before making it safely back to the car.
This hike was one of the best day hikes I have done in Rocky to date. If you have the chance to make it up there I highly recommend it. To make it past Sky Pond you will need some route-finding and scrambling skills but it is totally doable if you take your time. I think next week I plan on hiking either Meeker or the Shark's Tooth. If anyone out there has done either I would love some input if you have any. Looking forward to getting back out there soon and I'll be sure to share the photos!
Lastly I added a slideshow of the flowers that we saw along the hike as well as some video of the trail.