| Pagoda from Glacier Gorge
In 2009 I read about a hike to Pagoda Mountain. Though I had ran in some of the local trail runs I had never been to the summit of anything. That year my wife and I settled for a seventeen mile hike in RMNP. 2010 brought more hiking in RMNP ending with a summit of Mount Lady Washington.
I read many trip reports on 14ers.com and came across one going up Pagoda from Glacier Gorge by Papillon. My interest was back. My wife/hiking partner and I made our first attempt at Pagoda on August 26, 2011. The day was beautiful at first, no clouds and no wind. That wasn't to last, the clouds were steadily increasing. We were working our way up through the loose sand, gravel and rock mess between the Keyboard of the Winds and Pagoda. The going was slow, at 10:00 am we turned around. Though aggravating it was the right choice, rain started before we made it to Black Lake on our descent. Thunder followed and we were glad to be in the trees and on a rain slickened but easy trail. One month to the day later on the 26th of September we returned. With the days shorter we hit the trail in the dark about 6:00 am.
Our goal from Mills Lake.
The climb starts when you get to Green Lake.
Finally out of the gully into good rock.
Good views from the summit of Longs, Meeker and Chiefs Head.
Time to go down. In Papillon's trip report he described the gully aptly, "The gully is 1,000 feet of nastiness: Ball-bearing scree, break-neck kitty litter on hardpan, dinner plate talus, slabs of class 3 relief, not to mention the occasional television- and microwave-sized missile at the ready". I should have taken heed. About halfway down Nancy reached out to a large rock to steady herself, when she put her hand on it, it came loose. I heard her yell ROCK. I turned to see a rock the shape of a coffin and about 2/3s that size with a bunch of his friends coming for me. It's amazing what adrenaline can do for a person, I had no trouble running across rock that I was cautiously going down a few seconds before.
The south end of Glacier Gorge is a secluded, wonderful place.
We are back on trail for an easy walk back. Just before we get to Mills Lake we talk to three ladies who asked us if we saw the rock slide.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):