RMNP, Lone Pine Lake – September 7th, 2014

Today’s plan was originally to hike to Lake Verna in Rocky Mountain National Park, but with the Broncos season opener being scheduled for tonight, we weren’t sure if there was enough time to do the full 14 mile round trip. One does need priorities after all….

We left Denver at 5:30 AM as usual and arrived at Grand Lake at 8 after a quick stop for breakfast in Winter Park. The weather was pretty cold out, low to mid 30’s at the lake but the forecast called for mid 60’s later in the day so we weren’t worried. The sun was out and it looked like it would be a nice morning.

The first stop was Adams Falls, only about a quarter of a mile in. This seems to be the main attraction for this trailhead and where most visitors tended to turn around. This late in the season the falls were running fairly low but were still pretty. \

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Shortly after the falls we entered into a nice meadow. The trail followed the meadow along the north (left) side just in the cover of the trees.

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About halfway through the meadow the trees along the path became quite a bit thicker, lowering visibility quite a bit. This proved a tad inconvenient when I turned a corner and came face to face with a bull moose standing right in the path and only about 10-15 feet away! He looked up at me as if to ask “What do you think you’re doing?”. I backed away about another 15 feet, but that wasn’t far enough. He laid his ears back and let out an irritated snort in my direction so I backed away even farther. We tried waiting him out to see if he would move, but he decided he liked it there and wanted to take a nap so he laid down next to the the trail. After about another 10 minutes we climbed up on a ridge to the left of the trail and bushwhacked our way around him, rejoining the trail about 200 yards from where he was resting. While climbing the hill we took this picture of him, it was the best we could get.

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This trail is a very well constructed trail with many bridges and stone staircases. This made the hiking fairly easy. The picture below is a good example of the trail conditions for most of the hike.

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Even though it’s only early September, fall is already starting here in the Rockies. Color was showing up in many places already.

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Nearing the lake we came across an area that had been damaged by an avalanche. I later found out this happened in 2012. The destructive power of nature always amazes me. It just snapped these trees like toothpicks.

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We reached Lone Pine Lake and had a lunch of PB&J with some Cabernet Sauvignon, which surprisingly go well together.

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On the way back the skies began to darken in the west over Grand Lake and we began to hear thunder. We decided to take some shelter and managed to get under a large rock overhang right as it hit. We waited out the storm with another couple on horseback. It only lasted about 20 minutes during which we got both rain and hail. As is typical for Colorado, it was over fast and we were soon hiking again. Before leaving our shelter we took this photo of Grand Lake. It’s hard to believe that there was thunder, lighting, wind, rain and hail just 10 minutes prior to this. I love Colorado!

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As we neared the end of the trail, we no longer saw the moose so he must have moved out of the meadow. We took these last two shots before going back to the car to get home and see the Broncos defeat the Colts. Go Broncos!

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