Sunday, August 23, 2009

Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly

"Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger he shoot coca-cola
He say "I know you, you know me"
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me "

Yep, the immortal words to "Come Together" from The Beatles were quite prophetic yesterday. We certainly were grooving up slowly on Flat Top mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. In our quest to hike all the trails in the park, this is one we had put off a number of times. Its tough, and given the amount of time you spend above treeline can be dangerous if the weather changes rapidly.

However, yesterday showed to be a warm, dry day with little chance for getting caught out by rapidly building storms so we decided to test our fitness and take on the trail. You start at Bear Lake, like a lot of other hikes, and proceed to climb and climb and climb until you've reached the Continental Divide at the summit of Flat Top at 12,340 feet above sea level.

Stop to pose for a family photo on the way up
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

High above Emerald Lake on our way past treeline
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

We broke through treeline after a couple of miles, and the views just kept coming. While there aren't many ugly places to see in RMNP, when you get above treeline and get huge, expansive 360 degree views it is pretty much unrivaled. Cooper was a champion the whole way, giggling uncontrollably when people would stop to talk to him.

After a very tough 4.5 miles, we reached the summit on a bluebird day with nary a cloud in the sky. We got Cooper out of the carrier and let him run around on what seemed like the surface of the moon.

Jill and Coop pose before lunch, we left Hallet Peak (background) for next time
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

We're there!
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

Jill and I had real food, Cooper decided rocks were more tasty
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

Loaded back up and ready to head back down, it was time for a nap
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

High altitude, exposed alpine tundra
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

A fat marmot taking in the nice day
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

Big arms for LK
From Flat Top Mountain Hike

The trip down was just about as hard as the trip up. Carrying an extra 30+ pounds for me on the rugged, steep descent took a toll on my joints as we had forgotten to bring our trekking poles. We methodically made our way back into the trees and then ultimately to the parking lot. Cooper did fantastic all the way up and back down, which was a huge relief to all of us. I got a kick out of how many people wanted to stop and talk as they saw me carrying Cooper up to the summit. The higher we went, the more people would comment on it.

And the stats and elevation graph:
9.2 miles
3,471 feet elevation gain
About 4 hours moving time with an hour of stopped time (mostly at the summit)

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