In the Shadow of The Chief

Fall is perhaps my favorite time to hike.

The colors are changing (even in the Rockies), the air has that special quality of cool, crisp air that is just not found in the other seasons, lightning is a little less and the crowds seem to go away.

On September 21st, four of us decided to hike to Chiefs Head in Rocky Mtn National Park. I had done this hike five summers ago, but I wanted to do it again during the fall.

The day started in the relatively little used Wild Basin area of RMNP.

The day was drizzly and a bit cool and we saw a fair amount of people heading down the trail.

We decided to stick it out and was rewarded with sunshine breaking through the clouds!

Hike up various falls was enjoyable.

But the hike really came alive when we reached the Lion and Snowbank Lakes.

Being at these alpine lakes with the high peaks surrounding us was perhaps the perfect way to enjoy this fall day. And we had it all to ourselves.
 

At Lion Lake

As you can see from the photo above, there was nasty weather about 1500' above us, though.

A decision was made to shorten our hike by about 1.5 miles and 1500' and walk up to the ridge with Mt. Orton as its high point.

The views from Chiefs Head are undeniable beautiful, but the ridge was the highlight of the hike for me five years ago and it would prove to be the highlight again.

View of the ridge from Snowbank Lake

The hike was steep, but manageable. Lots of boulders and some scrambling, but enjoyable in its own way.

The reward was a view of all the lakes we have been to and the divide in front of us.

Eve more so than the distant views, it was the changing colors of the tundra that intrigued me. The russet and straw colored grass may not be vibrant as New England autumn, but the views were striking in its own way.

After walking the ridge, we made our way down to the woods and found a use trail to our final lake of the day: Sand Beach Lake.

We sat by the natural beach, enjoyed the scenery and made our way down the trail.

A fine Autumn day in the Colorado mountains.

All the photos

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