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East Inlet trail with Conor, RMNP, October 9, 2012

November 24, 2012

We got a bit of a late start, so I did not stop in Grand Lake for a bite to eat before hitting the trail at around 11 am.  Conor chowed down on some pizza right before we started up the trail.  NOT just ANY old pizza, but Coopersmith’s pizza.  I think I vaguely remember playing some pool and drinking beer the night before.  Possibly a reason for the late start : )

Conor visited me in Colorado in the Fall of 2012.  We had a rather good time, including a great hike up the East Inlet trail in RMNP (Rocky Mountain Nation Park) to Lone Pine Lake.  This link should take you to a nice RMNP map http://www.nps.gov/common/commonspot/customcf/apps/maps/showmap.cfm?alphacode=romo&parkname=Rocky%20Mountain ).  Perfect fall weather prevailed for the hike.  Which was a bit of luck because Conor experienced just about every type of Colorado weather (outside of a tornado) during his visit.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard, rather longish, comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in that gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative (plus there are more of them). See below for a Google Map link to the location of the hike. (If you want to see all my trips, this link will direct you to a MapQuest map that shows ALL my trips. Please note that some of the links for the hikes are located somewhere in the hike itself, while other links on the map are the trail head for the hike located on a road. The issue being, even if the link looks like it’s pointing to a road, that’s actually just the trail head.All links should open a new browser window.

Here is a live Google map showing the location of the hike. Point “A” from Fort Collins leads to point “E” at the East Inlet trail head.

You can “grab” the map to scroll it around and use the “+” and “-“ icons in the upper left hand corner to zoom in or out to get more detail. You can also click on the “View Larger Map” link and it will bring up the map in a larger window (if you right click on the “View Larger Map” link and select “Open Link in new tab/window” then you can have both my blog and the map open at the same time).

The first mile or more of the trail takes you past some very nice meadows that are sprinkled along the trail.  This is the first one.  This is also the first place where you can get a good view of exactly where we were headed.  See that big mountain looking thing in the far distance?  The trail goes right up to it and then hooks a left.  The trail is 5.5 miles one way, gains around 1,500 feet, and is listed as “strenuous” by the park service.  The “strenuous” label is a bit dependent of how much your pack weighs, your age, if you’re a local or just visiting from a low altitude section of the US, and just how fast you finish the hike.

A bit further up the trail you come up onto a rise that lets you look look across another large meadow.

We met some nice folks that had us take a group photo for them.  Once done, they returned the favor for us.  As you can see, Conor has taken off his soft shell jacket.  I only had a tshirt under my fleece pull over, so I elected to just keep it on.  It was very pleasant in the sun, but cool in the shade and/or if the breeze picked up.

As an indication of the temperature (even though it looks sunny and warm), this is a shot of the river right behind us in the photo above.  The crinkly surface of the water is due to the fact that there is a thin sheet of ice over the surface of the water.

Photographer taking a photo of someone taking a photo.

I actually have a few photos that Conor took.  Such as above.  Hopefully he won’t mind sharing them as he got some that I missed.  Such as this one of a butterfly (or, moth).  His camera takes good photos, and I had some fun showing him how they can be adjusted to look even better with some simple actions in photo editing programs.  All we had to do with this photo was sharpen it just a bit.

Here is the waterfall.  At this time of year its small.  VERY small.  In June the water is hitting on top of the bridge.

Again, it’s getting a bit chilly at night.  This closeup photo shows ice cycles hanging at the top of the waterfall and ice covering the grass to the right.

We missed most of the fall colors.  The leaves have fallen from majority of the aspens.

Eventually you get up high enough to be able to see all the way back to Grand Lake.

Here is a photo by Conor showing my awesome professional stance while taking photos.  There are a few places on the hike where you definitely would want to be cautious.  Particularly if you have children with you.  The drop off in front of me is sheer, but I had to walk off the trail a little ways to get to it.  There are places right on the trail where one side is pretty steep.

It’s really a very pretty trail.  That’s the reason I don’t mind doing it almost every year.

There are, in my opinion, four “sections” to the trail.  Section one is a lower one from the trailhead thru meadows.  It ends at the beginning of an “altitude gain.”

Section two is the first altitude gain.  This is a photo a very small part of the altitude gain.  Even the steep sections were nice.  They weren’t really “steep”, but more so than walking around meadows.

Once you get past the altitude gain, which provides the hikers with very good views all the way back to Grand Lake, the trail goes past some deep pools and nice forest trails.  This would be what I consider section three.  The first photo of this email shows one of the deep pools.  Lots of nice rest stops.

Here is a section of the trail as it winds through the forest.

The trail goes past a nice set of water falls of tributary that intersects the trail from the left.  There is a bridge here that also makes a great rest stop.  No photo this trip, but my hike last year has photos of the bridge.  Conor and I also spent some time trying to cut (find) a trail that goes up Paradise valley.  We crossed the river and spent 30 minutes to an hour of just meandering around.  We never found the trail, but at the least I now know where the trail is NOT : )  Next summer I’ll look at a few other places where it appears old trails take off to go up the side valley.  It may take me a few summers, but eventually I’ll locate one (well, possible not; I may just end up going up the valley without a trail).  I guess I could make it easy on myself and ask a ranger.  Kind of spoils the adventure doing that.

After this relatively flat section three, in fact soon after you go over the bridge, you start up section four.  It’s moderately long and gains a LOT of altitude.  At the end of section four the trail flattens out just prior to reaching Lone Pine Lake.

Conor found a nice little streamlet with some hanging ice cycles.  His photo.

A little further down from where Conor was capturing the light, I found a slightly different set of ice.

We made it to Lone Pine lake.  I had to hold on to Conor or fall down.

Lone Pine lake is not very big, but it does have it’s charm.

Of course, Conor wanted to go out to the island to eat our “lunch”.  Privately, I figured attempting to get to the island may eat my lunch.  But I said, “sure, heh, why not 🙂

Conor easily traversed a log in getting across the first “step” to the island.  However, I was a little more hesitant.  But, the proof that I made it was captured forever by Conor.

The rest of the effort to reach the island was pretty much not too bad.  Here is Conor trailblazing the way.

We sat in the sun, as it was getting a bit chilly, and ate what food we had.  As I remember, it was truffles and champagne (but I could be mistaken : ), but it could have been anything and tasted great.  Nice place.

We headed back down noticing that the sun was beginning to make some long shadows.

On the way down, I grabbed a photo of the Paradise Valley area that I want to hike back into.

The setting sun made for some nice photos.

Conor hoofing it down the mountain.

And taking time to examine some rock formations.

The rock has definitely been “stressed”.  Bent, so to speak, over time.  And now exposed.

The professional at work (by Conor).

It was full dark by the time we got back to the car.  The photo above is after getting back to the meadows.    Probably had close to an hour of hiking left at this point.  Started having to move a little slower.  I could make out what was, or wasn’t, on the trail, but the depth perception was pretty poor.

Didn’t get much of a sunset photo because there weren’t that many clouds.

Back at the car.  Conor probably wondering …”Damn, does he ever stop taking photos?”    Answer = No : )

Great hike.  Perfect fall weather.  I was surprised that we didn’t hear any elk bugling.  Must have been too late in the season.  Didn’t hear any and didn’t see any elk.  Well, other than the ones I almost ran into driving through the town of Grand Lake.  Figures.

On the way back over the continental divide, on Trail Ridge road, Conor had me stop and pull over.  He wanted to  check out the Milky Way.  The stars were brilliant.  That said, he had to hang on to the side of the car to make sure the wind didn’t pick him up and carry him to Fort Collins.  The wind was brutal and cold.

I’m pretty sure we hit the Crown Pub in Fort Collins on our return.  It’s one of the few places that are open late at night (or, possibly in our case, very early morning) that serve great food.  Food had been a little minimal on the hike, so it was high on our list of “things to do.”

– Geoff Weatherford

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew Wojtanik permalink
    July 20, 2013 9:35 am

    Hi there! You really have a terrific blog here. Engaging and informative, especially for a hiker who is girding to come back to RMNP/Colorado for more. I recently started a blog of my own that follows your same model (trip reports, lots of photos) that you can find here: http://liveandlethike.wordpress.com/. Working backwards to document my experiences in 25+ national parks, then hopefully keep racking up some more in the future! Take care!

    • July 21, 2013 6:27 pm

      Andrew,

      Thanks for the kind words. I checked your site. Very nicely done. I liked the trail info (how hard it was, etc.). Map was awesome.

      Thanks,

      GeoffW

      ________________________________

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