We were all gathered at the lodge at the first sign of light ready to head in to Rocky Mountain National Park. On the agenda was Hallett Peak, a classic summit and one that, in my opinion, every Rocky enthusiast should make a point to visit! Jamie had been out for a week and her best friend Lisa and husband Steve were visiting with Steve's brother Mike and his wife Lisa. So Lisa, Lisa, Michael, Mike, Jamie and Steve were all set for the hike to the summit of this 12,713 foot beauty!

The winter had been long and snowy and I was hoping there wasn't too much snow left below treeline. In years past, the end of June is usually 99% snow free, so I told them we would run into a little snow, but nothing too bad. Well, soon after climbing above Bear Lake, we hit tons of snow and probably 3 miles of the 4.4 to Flattops summit were through and over snow drift after snow drift! Some solid as a rock, and some required a thigh deep post hole to cross.

But everyone was having a great time despite the less than ideal conditions. The temps were perfect, not a cloud in the sky and the company couldn't be better! So onward and upward toward the first "summit" of the day, Flattop Mountain. As we climbed toward treeline, the more exposed terrain had remarkably less snow and the flowers were popping up all over the place! A truly spectacular place!

We stopped a couple of times to just soak in the scenery and stopped acouple of times to have a snack break. We were going to take full advantage of this perfect day in the high country. The Pikas and Marmots were out enjoying the great weather, elk were out taking advantage of the green tundra grasses and the snow must have scared off most of the hikers as we pretty much had the mountains to ourselves!

Everyone was in awe of the beauty as we climbed higher and higher up the slopes of Flattop. Looking over at Notchtop and the Little Matterhorn was, as always, a beautiful sight. I love seeing peoples reactions to this hike the first time they do it! It was awesome to see Jamies face at every turn and great to see every elses appreciation of this spectacular place.

As we climbed higher, the elevation started to play a slight roll in everyones pace. All coming from Illinios, it's quite a change, but it didn't slow us down too much and we made great progress to Flattops summit. We stopped along the way to enjoy views of the Pool of Jade and Tyndall Gorge, simply soaking in the views. We then took a little break on the summit of Flattop after which we made quick work to the base of Halletts summit cone.

Steadily we made our way up the steepening slopes, taking a few breaks to enjoy our surroundings, towards the summit. We even had a fat marmot escort us the final few hundred feet all the way to the top, where, before we knew it, we were enjoying the spectacular views that the summit of Hallett Peak happily offers!

Everyone was so thrilled to have made it and we plopped down and spent quite some time snacking, talking, and exploring the summit of this wonderful moutntain in the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park!

The descent was pretty straight forward, except for a few annoying snow drift crossings, which were now very soft, until about a mile from the trailhead where I had to do surgery on a blister under Jamie's toenail with a pine needle!! But all turned out well, we saved her toe and made it back to Bear Lake where a cold foot soak (complete with attack leeches) was our reward!

A fantasic day in the hills with great company! That's what getting out in the mountain is all about!

My Photos: HERE

    until next time...    
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