Ascent to Chasm Lake

I had just a couple hikes I knew I wanted to do even before I came to RMNP.  One of those was the Flattop and Hallett hike, which I somewhat accidentally turned into an over-exhausting excursion. And the other I was able to accomplish today: Chasm Lake. This lake starts on the same trail as the famed fourteener, Longs Peak. However, rather than continuing to the summit, Chasm Lake sits at the base of Longs Peak’s imposing east facing wall (2,400 ft tall) known as the “diamond”.

Longs Peak from the edge of Chasm lake at about 5:30am.That’s the moon if you’re wondering.

I knew I wanted to do the hike, but in order to get really good photos, one has to get there at the right time of day. This meant that I needed to be at the lake no later than 5:45am. So, I set my alarm for 2am, drove to the trailhead and was on the trail by 3, hiking in the dark with my headlamp on, with my photo gear on my back. I know that may sound slightly crazy, but for people summiting Longs Peak, they typically leave between 2 and 3, so I actually passed quite a few people on the trail, even at that time.

The hike went as expected until I reached the tundra. At that point the trees disappeared and a cold wind started whipping across the mountainside. I’m not talking about a breeze, I mean gusts of at least 50 mph. A lot of the people who were trying to summit Longs Peak turned back, knowing the higher they got the stronger and more dangerous it would get. But since I was going to be hiking to Chasm lake, which sits down between several peaks, I figured I’d be missing a good part of the wind. I was wrong. If anything the wind got stronger. It roared down the canyon as I hiked and when I got the the lake at about 5am, gusts threatened to knock me over. I had to be very careful to make sure all of my equipment was weighed down, or it would have been blown away in a minute. Not only was the wind voracious, the temperature dropped. My thermometer was reading 40 f, and that’s not including the windchill. But despite all that I was able to find a little nook that was somewhat out of the bigger gusts and worked on my photos until about 7am, at which point I packed up and headed back down.

Chasm Lake and Longs Peak’s east facing wall.

It was an exhilarating hike, made more so by the weather, but I’m glad I was able to conquer it and get some unique photos in the process. Almost as soon as I was done shooting, some clouds moved in and cover the peaks, so I was fortunate to get the shots I did.

Looking back towards Longs on my descent.

And finally, I just wanted to include a few photos of some of the other things I’ve been seeing. Just a few days left before heading home. Here’s to making the most of them.

Spending time in an Aspen grove

I found these paper wasps near one place I was shooting. Amazing.

This mule deer has a pretty nice set of antlers.He was just having out by the road the other evening.
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