Flattop Mountain – Rocky Mountain NP

Today was one of those classic BlueBird sky Colorado Crisp fall runs. Elk bugling, yellow aspen, the first layer of snow in the upper elevations and comfortably cool running temperatures. We started from the Hollowell Park trailhead which I was told by my more well informed running friends is a better place to start than the overcrowded Bear Lake or Bierstadt Lake trail heads. They were correct. This was a 15 mile out and back with 4,100ft of gain. Garmin router here.

The only thing missing from this photo are the sounds of elk in heat “bugling” away and the sound reverberating off of the mountains. Longs Peak in the distance. I was there several weeks ago.

The single track on the way up the first several miles was very runnable and soft.

A group rest stop overlooking Bear Lake I believe looking towards Longs Peak.

Breaking through the tree line opens up the views and brings you closer to the first snow pack of the season at 11,500ft.

Pushing the last 1000 or so feet to the top through about an inch of snow. Micro spikes would have been nice at this point. Adding another light layer was all that was needed. The cold felt great after the long dry hot summer.

Back on the Continental Divide for maybe the last time in 2012 at 12,300 ft on the Bighorn Flats. With a trip planned back to OH next weekend, it likely will be my last alpine run…but not my last alpine adventure (snow shoes and skis are being added to the gear this year. Yes, I live in CO and have never down hill skied).

The fun part is the way back down with better light and different views. Without the micro-spikes, it was slow going

I think this is my favorite shot of the day. Longs ahead and I think Blue Lake below. By this time of day, the sun had lit up the west face of Longs.

As you can see here

I believe this is Bear Lake below viewed from about 10,000 ft. I bumped into a group a high school age kids hiking at this point dressed in gym shoes, cotton T-shirts and jeans on their way to the Divide. Perhaps I sounded a bit too parental when I told them they weren’t dressed right and to be safe and not do anything stupid. Oh well. At least I don’t regret not saying anything.

And there were views like this all over to be seen on the way back.

Another picture perfect day in RMNP.

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