I registered for Joe Schultes' CMC hike in July, and got an email in early August from Joe indicating he'd suffered a hairline fracture of his ankle. I accepted his request to take over as leader.
The participants were Barbara (Babs) Schmerler, Dawn Barton, Wendy Phillips, Jeremiah Oldham, Jorge Dominguez and myself, Bill Stafford. Jeremiah makes his home in Allens Park, and graciously offered his place as a stopover for meeting, either the night before or in the morning. Five of us car camped in his driveway Friday night, or arrived early Saturday. Leaving at 4:10AM, I drove the five of us to the Longs Peak Trailhead. The cars were parking up to about a 1/2 mile down the road from the trailhead. I drove to the top with the intent of dropping off my passengers and returning to park - but we discovered an empty spot directly in front of the restrooms. SCORE! We collected our packs, met Wendy at the Ranger's Station, waited for 15 minutes for a CMC no-show (groan...) and were on the trail at 4:55AM. (My GPS unit recorded an elevation of 8875', whereas Roach states the trailhead is at 9400', which matches the "Longs Peak" quad.)
It was fairly warm to start the day (Denver set a 97degF record) and the forecast was for a 10% chance of showers after 3PM. And indeed, the weather was excellent throughout the day.
Longs Peak hikers tend to start really early - given our relatively late start, only a few passed us on the way to the Chasm Lake junction, and we passed only a few ourselves. We took about a 20 minute break at the junction, and continued down to Chasm Meadows (11,580') below Chasm Lake, arriving there about 7AM.
We continued on, noting a couple parties ahead of us who appeared to be on the route we were intending to follow. The trail is relatively distinct as it heads toward The Loft. As we neared (but were still about 20 feet below) the "base of the cliff" described by Roach, Jeremiah spotted the ledge we needed to follow to the left, with a cairn marking the way. Again, the path is pretty clear, well-trod, and cairned. We arrived at top of The Loft (13,470') at about 9:20AM, taking another 10-to-15-minute break.
There was a couple who had already gained the summit, and a few others coming down. We followed any one of a number of faint trails to the final knife-edge-like ridge near the summit, arriving on the summit at 10AM.
We high-fived, took some photos, decided it wasn't the most comfortable place to hangout, and began making our way back down. We arrived at a spot close to Chasm Lake at about 12:15PM, lounged in the grass for about 1/2 hour, soaking in the scenery. We arrived back at the trailhead around 3PM, tired, sore (speaking for myself), happy to have conquered Meeker.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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