Chasm Lake was our destination today, our first real hike in the tundra. We reached the trailhead at 7 A.M. and the parking lot was full. Cars were lined up on the side of the road and we found a spot.
The reason it was so crowded was because this is also the trailhead to Long’s Peak, the only 14,000 footer in the park. Hikers start at 2 A.M. to climb that mountain. However, we climbed 2,360 ft. to reach Chasm Lake at 11,760 ft. That’s the highest we’ve been on a real hike.
The trail is only 4.2 miles one-way, yet enters three zones. The Montane zone has trees and few flowers. The subalpine zone has low bushes and lots of flowers. We saw yarrow, harebells, fireweed and lots I couldn’t identify. Finally, as we climbed further up through the rocks, we reached the tundra or alpine zone. There we saw the columbines, pictured above.
The last section of Chasm Lake was steep and very rocky. It was a good thing that we left early since we had to wait for others to scramble up before we got our turn. I would not have waited for hikers to come down. Of course, as we came down, we sometimes had to wait for others. It took us three hours to go up and about 2.5 hours down. It was steep.
At the intersection, those going to the Boulder Fields of Longs Peak turned right and we took the left fork. On the way down, we met two young men who had reached Longs Peak. It took them over four hours but that was a very good steep.
From the Smokies Coalition
President Obama and his family plan to visit Yellowstone National Park on
Saturday and the Grand Canyon on Sunday. We hope this visit will inaugurate
a new commitment to conserving the national park system and to the science
which sound conservation is based. We also hope that the visit will
impress on the president the serious fiscal issues threatening the parks.
See the New York Times article on the visit.