Saturday, October 06, 2007

Rocky Mtn Natl Park Hiking - The Big Bear Loop

With our first real threat of serious high country snow moving in Saturday night, we decided to be proactive and try to get in another big hike in Rocky this weekend. We were up early, and on the trail before the Front Range woke up, which in hindsight was a really good decision.

I had identified a loop that started at Bear Lake, hit some of our usual haunts but added a lake that we'd been near many times but never visited. We would eventually pass 6 alpine lakes, ranging in elevation from 9450ft to 10,2000ft, one major waterfall and countless smaller features.

Starting at Bear Lake, we dropped down for a mile or so before starting the climb up to Alberta Falls. We've been to Alberta so many times, and with the run-off low, we barely even paused as we kept our steady pace climbing up to our first destination, Mills Lake. We got to Mills a bit too late for good light, and subsequently got some pretty terrible pics but our in person visuals were much better than what we captured in photos.

Lake #1 on the day, Mills Lake

Backtracking from Mills, we headed west on our way to The Loch. We had been there once before, but it was snowed in and not overly impressive in that state. We were much more impressed this time around, and sat on the bank to take in some views before moving on to our next lake.

The Loch, clear of snow (for now)

Jill poses during a break at The Loch

The trail from The Loch to Lake Haiyaha is "unimproved". If you remember, our last "unimproved" trail on the East Inlet was a bit of a bear. Thankfully today's trail, although unimproved, was much easier to navigate and we knocked on the mile connector and .3 mile spur to Lake Haiyaha pretty quickly and thus completed all the climbing for the day, a welcome event.

Lake Haiyaha is an overlooked, but worthy destination

The happy couple poses for a pic

After some snacks and a break, we dropped back down to Dream Lake. We've been to Dream lots before, but today the lake was unusually crowded. We had evidently been ahead of the crowds all morning, but as we got near Dream/Nymph/Bear the crowds grew large. We snapped some quick pics at Dream/Nymph/Bear and the headed for the car to get the heck away from all the crowds. One of the busiest days we've ever witnessed in RMNP, but it was nice to be out in front of everyone thanks to our early start.

Dream Lake, always worth a picture

Finally some calm waters at Nymph Lake

Bear Lake, #6 on the day and our final stop

We ended up doing right at 9 miles, with a healthy 2700 feet of elevation gain for the day. Not a huge hike in terms of mileage for us, but a great day to be out and about in the park. I'm guessing next time we're back in the park it will be on snowshoes.

1 comment:

frank guerr said...

we will be in glacier natl park 07/25---we are looking for several day hikes---3-6 miles---no heavy climbs