We wanted to get out early due to thunderstorms predicted in the afternoon, and this being early in the year, we knew it would take us longer to do some climbing.
And our legs weren't the only thing that slowed us down: the flowers called us to take a ton of photos. We must have seen over 50 different varieties from the verdant valley flowers including wild iris to high alpine beauties just emerging as the snow melts such as spring beauties, alpine forget-me-nots, glacier lilies and spring beauties.
So, the trail starts in a meadow, crosses a creek (over which, someone had placed logs so we didn't need our water shoes). and then gets alpine fast. The rocky limestones holds many fossils, especially crinoids; we did find a few as well as what we think is an ancient coral.
Then we hit the series of waterfalls t, called Willow Creek Falls, hat tumble down the rocky cliffs before we head off trial for the climbing portion.
We had a snack at this junction, while Katie and Tom discussed routes. Due to the weather, we decided to take a more direct, but steeper, route so that we could get to the top by 1 p.m., the rule being get off a mountain by 2 p.m. as that is when the electric storms usually gather in the Rockies. So far, we had averaged just over one mph with the fossil hunting and picture taking and the clouds were starting to loom.
On the way to the top, we passed through what looked like a dead white-bark pine forest. In fact, we kept hearing a bird call and Beth said it had black wings; we figured it might be a Clark's nutcracker. Lots of gorgeous snags to set off our picture shutters again, but sad that the trees died. In this section, Tom picked up four ticks. Then we continued, admiring the three different anemone variety of flowers with Tom pushing on to the 1 p.m. deadline.
And we did make it. It was a tough climb, making for an 8 versus 10-mile day, but we did make it to the top by 1 p.m. We ate our lunch and enjoyed the views for a half hour before heading back down. The views on top were stupendous, even if we had mounting clouds. We viewed the Scapegoat escarpment, a long circular wall where we will be backpacking to later this summer.
We retraced our steps, back to the waterfalls, through the meadow to the stream crossing and through the final meadow.
We got back to the cars around 4:30 and home by 6:30, with some stopping in Augusta for a bite to eat. Katie and Tom both found a few more ticks when they showered, Yuck.
Who went: Mary, Amber, Beth, Katie (Tom and Gordon guides)