After 4 days without a good nights sleep I finally had a backcountry campsite. Mill Creek Basin is a wonderful spot between Bear Lake and Moraine Park. There is a large meadow with Aspen trees growing throughout. A small stream flows nearby. I had actually stayed at this campsite two years ago. That night however, was very short. I had to wake up by 2am in order to hike to Dream Lake for sunrise. We beat feet through the night, climbing uphill for hours on end. My friend had some music to pump us up though, 3 hours worth of Katy Perry music! Apparently that was the only artist on his phone at the time. Nothing like hiking through a dark forest, watching as the black sky slowly fills with light, and hearing “baby you’re a firework!!” At least that music scared away any wildlife that may have bothered us.
After a long night's rest at the Mill Creek Basin I made my way out to the Hollowell trailhead. The park shuttle came soon after and took me back to my car. From there, I swapped out my camping gear for camera gear and took the next shuttle up to Bear Lake. I now had a 9 mile hike ahead of me, said to be one of the nicest in the park.
The hike was fantastic. After an hour of uphill hiking I came to the snowfields, which were quite slick, especially in my sandals. Through the trees I could see the massive mountains in the distance. 4 years ago I was standing on top of those mountains, looking down the valley at all the little lakes. That had been my first time above treeline, and I loved every minute of it. The view from below was still impressive.
Looking down to Odessa Lake
As I neared the highest point of my hike, I remembered a tip from the shuttle driver. A rocky outcropping that provided an excellent view of the whole area. At the peak, I took my first pack-off break and had a snack. Of course I had to take some photos too. While I was up there, I took a leak on the rocks. A little while later a very friendly marmot showed up. He was very thankful for my salt deposit and proceeded to lick the rocks.
In return, Mr Marmot did some modeling for me. He was an excellent model, hitting all the right poses.
This hike featured some Alpine lakes, which were amazingly clear. I stopped at Lake Helen and Lake Odessa for a few photos.
The rest of the hike was largely uneventful, the usual string of people commenting on my choice of footwear.
By 7pm I made it to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, which has become like a home base for me. I can refill my water bottles and use the restroom to brush my teeth. Tonight, I cooked dinner in the parking lot. As my meal cooked I watched the last rays of sunlight illuminate the mountain peaks in an orange glow. By the time dinner was finished, dusk had begun to darken the land.
Thankfully I had another campsite picked out for the night, located in the shadow of Long’s Peak. A short drive through the stunning Colorado mountains reminded me how much I love this state. I reached the Long’s Peak trailhead by 9pm, twilight had fallen over the forest. I started my hike up to the Goblin Forest, where I would be spending the night. The faint light was just enough to see the trail, and I kept hiking higher and higher and higher. At one point I looked out and saw the lights from the valley. I must have been down there almost a week ago, photographing the very mountain I was now climbing up.
I lay here in my tent now, deep in the Goblin Forest. It is oddly quiet, only the distant sound of a mountain stream. I hope to wake up at 3am to begin my hike to Chasm Lake. I want to be there for sunrise.
Click here to see all the photos from this hike