Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mummy Pass/Mirror Lake/Hourglass loop

I got away to the mountains:







This loop has been on my (unwritten, half-remembered, and always-changing) list since I went with my friend Chris to scramble Mummy Mountain (pre-blog) and looked out into the isolated valleys along the northern edge of RMNP.  It reminded me somewhat of the North Inlet/Tonahutu Creek/Green Mountain loop on the other side of the park (which I've hiked twice now, but also pre-blog).  More photos here.

I had the place to myself - didn't see anyone from the time I left the Emmaline Lake Trail junction until the Beaver Creek Trailhead on the other side of the range.  It's amazing to me that of all the thousands of cars I sat in traffic with heading north on I-25 on Friday afternoon, none of them were also heading to this beautiful place - especially to escape the record heat in Denver on Saturday.

The weather was odd but fortunate, considering the long route above treeline.  The clouds always seemed to be building up to something, but never did.  It was odd to be up so high, be so warm, and yet have no lightning concerns.  I haven't had many days where I could just laze around at 12,600 feet like it was Wash Park.

And it is a route - going from cairn to cairn above treeline:



  The RMNP Nat Geo map says "Trail Undefined:"


But there's very little trail up there indeed, even when you get over to the Hourglass Trail.  It's fun and gorgeous, but slow going, and it would have been decidedly un-fun in bad weather.  Something to keep in mind if you head up there.

Something else to keep in mind is that the Comanche Peak register is apparently not at the highest point.  I ended up going to the summit that Gerry Roach likes (per the SummitPost entry), which was good enough for me.

A trip I would definitely do again.  However, instead of heading up and over the Commanche Peak trail to the Beaver Creek basin, I would focus on the highlights - start at Emmaline Pass Trailhead, camp at Mirror Lake, take a trip up to Comanche Peak again, and then go back out the same way.  Or, what about a point-to-point down to the Poudre River Trail, and then all the way up to Old Fall River Road?  So many trips, so little time.

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