The Wilderness Hunter

exploring colorado in all seasons

Chasm

Just after we returned from our derailed Grand Canyon trip, I still had the awesome camera lenses that I had rented, and they weren’t due to be shipped back for another couple of days, so I made one more journey. The wildflowers in the high country were just beginning to peak, so I decided to head up to Rocky Mountain National Park to see if I could get some blooming Columbines, our beautiful state flower. Chasm Lake was my set destination, located just below the summit of Longs Peak, one of the more difficult fourteeners to climb in the state. Last time I was there was eleven years ago, myself and a couple buddies were headed for the summit and a snowy camp in the Boulder Field at 12,000 feet. It’s a deep glacial tarn with a massive granite monolith rising above it called the Diamond Face. For the hardy and seasoned rock climber, it is one extreme route to the summit of Longs Peak. Unfortunately for me, I picked a day when the expected summer thunderstorms began to for a couple hours earlier than usual, but that wasn’t about to stop me from getting to Chasm Lake. As I was approaching the lake, everyone that had been there earlier was passing me on their way back down. Once I reached the lake, the thunder had started, the cold wind was blowing, but I had the place to myself. I was not taking my time with the photos, and when the first flash of lightning struck on the other side of the mountain, I knew I was going to be running down to tree line. I stowed the camera in the pack, donned my rain jacket and haul my ass off the mountain. After about a quarter mile, it began to rain, and then it began to hail. If you have never experienced a rain/hail storm above timerline, let me tell you, it isn’t a pleasant walk in a summer rain. It’s cold, down right icy and the lighting will whip you into a hurry you’ve never known. Running down a rocky, wet trail with 30 pounds of camera gear on your back is not good for the knees, by the time I reached timberline I could relax a bit, but my pace did not slow even for the aching in my knees. I began to realize I enjoy this kind of adventuring, but not to the point I would knowingly endanger myself, just enough to set me apart from the crowd. I came away with some excellent photos and another memory for the books.

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