It was about this time last year when I saw my first photo of Lone Eagle Peak. At the time I didn't know 14ers.com existed. I had never heard of Gerry Roach or his Indian Peaks guide. I didn't know the difference between crampons and snowshoes. I've always been in good shape, but if I couldn't get there on two or four wheels, I wouldn't go. That photo of Lone Eagle Peak captured my imagination and changed my life.
I parked the mountain bike and started day hiking in the Flat Irons. I found simple pleasure in walking. And on July 19, 2008, I made the 15.2 mile day hike to Lone Eagle Peak. I stood beneath Lone Eagle Peak for only 15 minutes that day but the journey was worth every ache and pain.
I saw my first photo of Hallett Peak on the day I learned of Lone Eagle Peak. And like Lone Eagle, the massive form of Hallett Peak captured my imagination. I shyed away from visiting Hallett last summer due to the popularity of the Glacier Basin area. Now, as summer approaches, I realized my window of opportunity was shrinking.
On Wednesday I called the backcountry office at RMNP to ask about conditions. It had been only five days since a massive snowstorm blew through. Ranger Dale told me 3 feet of snow fell at Bear Lake the weekend prior. He said the current conditions were good.
I took Thursday off from work and drove up through Glacier Basin on a beautiful and sunny spring day. I arrived at the Bear Lake trailhead before 7 AM. There was one car was parked in a lot that can hold over a hundred cars. I was satisfied knowing I had picked a perfect day to attempt Hallett Peak.
From here, the photos tell the story. Captions are on top.
Hallett Peak (left) and Flattop Mountain (center) cradle Tyndall Glacier high above the road through Glacier Basin.
Some mountains capture my imagination - Hallett Peak is such a mountain. Photo taken from the Bear Lake trailhead.
The sign says 4 miles to Flattop Mountain. The winter route I traveled trimmed the distance to 3.5 miles.
The route rises quickly through the trees. Longs Peak watches over me.
The winter route is more direct than the summer trail. It's not long before the trees start to thin and the vistas open up.
I just like this photo.
The tracks of previous travelers become fainter as the snow fields.
I find perspective on a solid rock outcropping. The view into Tyndall Gorge is fantastic. Hallett Peak towers beyond the crags of Flattop Mountain.
The impressive view of Longs Peak from my vantage point.
I move away from the edge and retrace my steps to the snowfield.
Wind blasted snow.
The view to the west expands as I near the summit of Flattop.
Yes - I believe there's a summit up there somewhere.
Flattop Mountain deserves its name. Hallett Peak is in the foreground and Longs Peak is in the distance.
The huge vista towards the west.
Is the trail marker considered the summit?
The wind is ripping. I find shelter behind a giant boulder and enjoy a well-deserved PB&J sandwich.
This is the view into Tyndall Gorge from the rim of Flattop Mountain.
I want to summit Hallett Peak. It's 11 AM - the sun is high and the snow is softening. I fear postholing all the way back down. I decide to save Hallett for another trip.
Before leaving I snap the obligatory self-potrait. Lol - the things we do for fun.
I breath in the expansive vistas before leaving.
Cairns show the way home.
The Mummy Range rise in the distance.
Moraine Park, Estes Park and Lake Estes lie in the distant valley.
A group of Rocky Mountain sheep stand on the crags of Flattop mountain. The vertical face of Hallett Peak is across the gorge. The north ridge of Storm Peak is in the distance.
A lone ewe stands proud.
A group of female Bighorns. I did not see a male ram.
Don't slip now - it's a long way down.
I follow my track towards the trees.
In drop into the trees. The snow has softened but I don't care. This spectacular hike is well worth a mile or two of postholing.
Storm clouds move overhead as I near the trailhead. I give thanks to the mountains above me for safe passage. And someday soon I'll be back to stand on top of Hallett Peak.
Here are two views of my GPS track in Google Earth.