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East Inlet Trail, RMNP, June 13, 2011

July 23, 2011

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Because of the heavy snow pack from the late spring and early summer storms, I decided to head back to RMNP (Rocky Mountain National Park) on Sunday, June 13, 2011.  It had a fair amount of trails that were lower in elevation, but still in pretty areas whose trails would not be flooded.  In addition, I wanted to check out Trail Ridge Road, because I’d heard that it had some pretty interesting scenes due to all the snow.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (and there are more of them). In addition, I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. You will need to use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a map that shows the trail I took . Please note that all links open a new browser window.

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In addition to the Google map link above, please see a Microsoft Live map below. The red tack shows the general location of the trail from my home in Fort Collins, CO. You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode and zoom in or out (and move the map around) to get more detail. Just make sure you don’t close the Microsoft “My Places” editor that pops up with map. If you close the editor (it is small and you can use/scroll/zoom the map without the editor getting too much in the way) without first saving the new location, the location button will disappear. If that happens, just close the map and click on it again on my web page.

Map picture

 

So, I got up Sunday morning, stopped by Starbucks on my way out of town, and by the time I hit timberline on Trailridge I had to agree with what I’d heard.  Yes, they had lots of snow.

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This trip saw me begin to use a slightly different technique of taking some of my photos.  I’d seen my children use the method of taking photos from a moving vehicle.  So, I did the same.  However, it was a little different in that I was the driver.  Ummm, I really don’t recommend doing this, but it did allow for some nice photos.  Of course, I should add that whenever I took the photo I looked behind me, make sure there was no traffic behind me, stopped the car, and then took the photo.  Yeah, sure.  That’s exactly how I did it.

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I stopped at the Forest Canyon overlook to get out of the car, enjoy the views, and take some photos of the surrounding area.  It really was quite pleasant.  I was in my tshirt and comfortable.  It helped that there was only a slight breeze.

Maybe these people are from Florida.  So, playing in the snow is a big deal : )

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Sans people.  Longs Peak in the distance.  Probably no one hiking up that mountain today.

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Looking across Forest Canyon.  I think up Hayden Gorge.  I believe I looked up Gorge Lakes canyon further up the road and all the lakes were still frozen over.

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Visitors center at the top of Trailridge.

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Heading down towards Milner Pass, the snow level was deep into the trees.

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Milner Pass.  No trails were open.  Actually, no trails were visible, much less open.

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By the time I got to the East Inlet trailhead, it was looking a lot better (as far as hiking).  I’m sure the water was cold, but people were out boating around Grand Lake.  And you can see the aspens were green.  Lots of snow up in the mountains.

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Got on the trail and immediately started seeing some nice fleurs : )  Spring was quite a bit more advanced than when I was on Lumpy Ridge.  At least at the altitude of Grand Lake.

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Looking up the valley at Mount Craig.  The trail to Lone Pine Lake goes to the left of Craig.  There is no official trail that goes to the right (or, that goes very far).  But, I’ll have to go that way some day.

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Looking back down at Grand Lake in the distance after gaining some altitude.

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Zoom.  I’ve considered living here (when I “retire” ha, ha : ), but it would not be cheap.  So, probably no go.  Very nice place to visit.

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Nice spot to rest.

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Lots of water to look at.  The rock looks all sparkly because there was water running over the top of it.

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Perfect place for lunch break.  It was a bit on the loud side due to the high water.

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Hmmmm.  White stuff?  Last year on this same trail (one day later in June) I saw no sign of snow until I got within half a mile (or possibly closer) of Lone Pine lake at a much higher altitude.

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The bridge.  And more of the white stuff.  According to some hikers that were headed down, the trail just past this bridge had snow that was “too deep to hike in”.  I took their word.

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Nice waterfall.  EXTREMELY loud waterfall.  Even though it was 50-100 yards away.

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Zoom.  It’s really quite large.

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Better view of the bridge.

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I took a break here and then headed back.  From some other hikers, the snow got solid and deep not too far up the trail (I think Lone Pine lake is another 1 mile further)..  For this hike, as on Lumpy, I was carrying a “practice pack weight” of 40 lbs.  So, this was far enough.  As it turned out, it was maybe too far.

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On the way back down I stepped just a little too close to the edge of the trail shown in the photo below.  The edge of the trail crumbled and fell down into the canyon while I watched.  I had another close call further down when I wasn’t paying quite as much attention to the trail while using my camera.  The issue was, I’m used to hiking with half the weight I was carrying for this hike.  So, what I took away from this hike is that when I’m carrying this much weight, I have to watch my balance a lot closer.  You tip over one way or the other and it’s a lot harder to catch yourself.  I wrenched my leg pretty good.  I didn’t feel it at the time, but it bothered me for the rest of the week after the hike.

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The pasque were pretty.

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As were these pretty orangish-red East Inlet mountain flowers (not really sure what the real name is : )

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This little stream was just blasting its way down the mountain.

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A pretty green, and very wet, meadow area after losing most of the altitude.  Very surprisingly, not that I was complaining, even with all the wetness there were no mosquitoes (or, not enough for me to notice).  Just a week or so too early, I guess.

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There are some moose down in the green meadow across the river.  Hmmm.  Okay.  A perhaps a little tricky to spot in this photo.  They were pretty far away.

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Zoom.  Even zooming (which is only 5x on my lens) the moose still look small.  Oh well.  The one on the right had a small calf.  You can actually see it, unlike here, if you go look at the photos at their largest size at my smugmug gallery (http://geoffw.smugmug.com/Colorado-Trail-Hiking/East-Inlet-RMNP-June-13-2011/17868885_DBfDsq#1366728273_hq8HfQL-X2-LB ).

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Took this photo right before I pulled out of the parking lot.  It really wasn’t that dark, but I exposed it for the sky because the clouds were so neat.  So, this is actually what the sky looked like.  But, the trees (to a person standing looking at the view) would be lighter.  This is a dynamic range issue with my camera.  Or, that’s the excuse I will use when I replace this camera (like, in a 100 years : )

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Anyway, lovely day.  Great early summer hike in the Rockies.  I was, however, beat at the end of the day.  So, nope, I did not stop and take any photos on the way back (I did see quite a few moose on the way back).  On this hike I turned around after around 4 miles, so it was a good 8 mile hike with 40 pounds on my back.  Of course, I had a gimpy leg for the rest of the week (not from the hike itself, but from having to catch myself to keep from stumbling due to not paying attention where my feet were), but small price to pay : )

– Geoff Weatherford

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