The plan - Andrews Glacier
I planned to hike to the glacier but would I continue on to summit Otis Peak was really the question. I missed Otis already in June June TR Otis Peak
so I did want to bag the summit but I am well aware of the fact I am not in the shape I should be. Blame it on my boss, blame it on crazy personal stuff but the fact remains my cardio lacks.
The drive up the Big Thompson canyon from Loveland was quick and spotted by the occasional racoon snarfing up roadkill. I arrived at the Bear Lake TH, donned my pack and boots and headed out @ 05:45
I find the morning to be pleasant but a bit cool & dark so I opt for a light fleece and a headlamp. That only lasted 15 minutes or so. Once my blood is pumping I stuff both in my pack. I hit the junction at Dream Lake and am pleased to see the snow is all gone. No problems passing through today
(unlike last time).
The hike in was uneventful although sunrise but most excellent from the trail connecting dream to Haiyaha.
Down to the Loch
No problems finding the trail as it’s well marked but I did notice the trail cutoff from Haiyaha to Loch Vale trail is marked, as ‘unimproved’ and I would agree. Many exposed tree roots and signs of erosion. Seemed like a fair amount of downhill, which is really interpreted as uphill since I planed to return via the same route. I cross over no fewer than 8 log type footbridges that look as old as Methuselah but they do get the job done. I connected with Loch Vale Trail around 07:00
and proceeded towards the Loch certainly moving slower than I had anticipated but still happy about being out of the house. I find my t-shirt and Columbia cargos adequate as the sun intensified. I pass only one set of hikers at the intersection of Loch Vale and Glacier Gorge trails then solitude until the return trip. Further down the trail near end of the Loch I noticed sings of trail improvements. Someone’s been busy placing stepping-stones, gravel and rip rap. Thanks
to whoever this might be as it should help with some of the apparent erosion problems. Also looks like new trail signs could be coming soon. Ever wonder how they get all the gravel and such up here?
Just my curious nature I guess.]
Shortly before the turn for Andrews Campground I ran across a few elk helping themselves to some munchies.
Talk about a peaceful moment. I watched for a few minutes before they scurried uphill. Speaking of wildlife also saw a fair share of what look to be yellow-bellied warblers and of course black tailed squirrels and chipmunks. I hit the turn for Andrews Campground and pass by the campsite. There looks to be 4 or 5 tents, the occupants of which are just beginning to stir. I move on a little off course through the boulders as I look for a good shot of the valley.
To the Top & back
It’s about 08:00
and I’m ready for the trekking poles as I proceed up the rocks. Kind of a half scramble half hike over piles of rocks many of which are wobbly. The trail is hit and miss but the route is pretty well cairned and certainly passable for most people. It’s quite a site watching the water drop off of Andrews Tarn as you ascend. Eventually you cross over the creek and make it to the top. As you top out your greeted with a blast of cold air coming straight off the glacier and super cooled over the Tarn. The winds were gusting heavily. I don the fleece and a light pair of gloves just to keep the nip off. While trying to set my camera for a shot on top of my pack (which is on top of a rock) the wind blew the pack off.
Nearly took my topo map off the mountain as well. It’s 08:45
and I’m a bit weary from the 3 hours on the trail. Guess I’m a lot slower than I remember but who cares. I consider crossing the glacier and summiting Otis but in the interest of self-preservation I opt out. Frankly I’m too tired and I’ve never actually crossed a glacier. Better not to solo it on my first try.
No worries I had accomplished my main objective and I’m still in one piece without too much pain. After a few photos and a close-up of the glacier I start my descent around 09:00
My knees are feeling the burn. My left ACL is partially torn but not worthy of surgery (read: insurance just wont pay for it)
. According to my Dr. its nothing a 1K$$ brace cant fix – thank you Kaiser for sticking me with the bill. Truthfully the brace seems to help quite a bit but it does chafe – eeeek! Once I’m back on the Loch trail begin to encounter scads of hikers that this area of the park is known for. . . .
Rude Hikers Suck!!
. . . You know the type; Mom has a Nike bra top dad’s wearing Docker shorts & boat shoes and the kids screaming
something about how he’d rather be playing his x-box. Truthfully, I’m glad when anyone gets outdoors - its good for the soul right? For some reason today all the rude ones came out.
There are always a few but never before have the rude people outnumbered the nice ones. I mean what ever happened to trail etiquette?
. And BTW what’s wrong with returning a friendly trail greeting (albeit sometimes obligatory) At least grunt, snort or nod. Something! Anything! The elk gave a better greeting than these stuck up families. They act like they created the trail themselves. I swear I passed at least 50 people who wouldn’t acknowledge my existence (and yes I was counting
) I cut back up towards Haiyaha thinking unimproved trail = less people. I was wrong but who cares I’m not letting anyone spoil my fun. I’m outside and enjoying a beautiful day.
I finally return to TH @ 11:06
total time 5 hours 21 minutes. Not exactly a record but certainly an enjoyable trip despite the throngs of unhappy people on the trail. Still beats a day @ the office. Perhaps next time I’ll string it together and actually make the summit of Otis . . . maybe the 3rd time is a charm!