Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Flattop Mountain and Hallett Peak

After our lovely July 4th holiday, Joker and I got to do our own big hike on Thursday.  Destination: the summit of Hallett Peak by way of the summit of Flattop Mountain.  Flattop in particular is a popular hike since it's easy to access, and a beautiful but fairly accessible climb to the top.

Hallett Peak, Tyndall Glacier, Flattop Mountain
We got an early start, but were advised by the rangers at the trail head that there was a decent chance of thundershowers before noon.  This meant we needed to get up and back as quickly as possible if we wanted to see the tops.  We hadn't gone very far when the morning clouds parted, giving us beautiful views of Longs Peak and Emerald Lake at our first couple of overlooks.
Longs Peak, from the first clearing on the Flattop Mtn. trail

Emerald Lake as seen from Flattop Mtn. trail

The sunny weather stayed with us for a while.  After timberline we still had a ways to go, but we reached the summit of Flattop with smiles on our faces, and decided the sky was looking good enough for us to continue.  The trail leaves the summit and winds around the Tyndall Glacier before turning up Hallett.  At this point, it becomes almost a scramble and less of a hike - It. Is. Steep.  But the view from the top is worth it - in every direction, the Rockies are glorious.

After a mountaintop picnic on Flattop, we made quick time down.  The clouds had been nonexistent, but suddenly they obscured the view of Longs entirely, and the thunder sounded ominous.  The wildlife, however, did its best to delay us: marmots and pikas right on and along the trail, a ptarmigan hen and her chicks, four bull elk on a slope, posing for us with their impressive racks.  And more columbine and other beautiful, beautiful flowers than you could hope for.

Aren't these fellas handsome?

One fat marmot

Ptarmigan with her chicks... right in the trail!
We were below treeline before the first raindrops hit, but we weren't yet off the trail before the hail began.  That was a bummer.  Thankfully, Mima and Boppie had lent us the ponchos I'd left at home, and we were somewhat dry, and exceedingly exhilarated, when we returned to the parking lot for our post-hike beers.  Another insanely great hike.

No comments: