Living – Places: 22

Solitude matters … and for some people, it is the air they breathe.
— Susan Cain, The power of introverts, TED Talk, February 2012

2014 (continued)

With a forecast calling for thunderstorm beginning midday, we headed for the mountains early, driving up to the Bear Lake trailhead, and then heading up towards Lake Haiyaha. The first lake we passed was Nymph Lake, which is ringed by Nymphaceae Lily Pads that were glinting in the early morning sun. We enjoyed a few minutes sitting lakeside, then headed up the trail beyond, pausing briefly to look back down upon the lake and the scenery beyond.

Looking down at Nymph Lake with its lily pads glinting in the early morning sun

Looking out at the surrounding forest, we could see that we're on the cusp of autumn: the aspens are beginning to turn.

Golden aspens sprinkled throughout the forest

Looking up towards the Continental Divide, we could see the beautiful peaks of Glacier Gorge.

Looking up valley towards Glacier Gorge

Our first glimpse of Dream Lake.

Dream lake through the pines

Dream Lake with Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain beyond.

A view across the lake with the jagged mountains beyond

The beautiful emerald green water of Dream Lake.

The emerald green-tinted lake with the forest beyond

Looking back down Dream Lake towards the outflow.

A view down the length of the lake

Beautifully veined rock outcropping on the way up to Emerald Lake.

A big rock outcropping with a creek running down it

A vibrant green meadow on the way up to Emerald Lake, just beginning to show the hints of autumn colors.

A small meadow nestled among the rock outcroppings

Garima looking up towards the peaks surrounding Emerald Lake.

Garima standing on a hillside looking up a peaks

Emerald Lake.

Small, deep lake nested at the foot of rugged peaks

Hiking up past Dream Lake, a steep trail leads up to one of my favorite views in Rocky Mountain National Park: the view up into Glacier Gorge with a glimpse of Mills Lake.

Looking through pines at Glacier Gorge

When we reached Lake Haiyaha the forecasted storm had rolled over the Continental Divide bringing cold, gusting winds and light rain. Still, we enjoyed sitting on our favorite boulder that juts out into the lake. About 15 minutes after we began our hike back, the clouds pulled back again and we came across this beautiful view across the creek that flows out from Lake Haiyaha towards the basin the lake is nestled in.

Water flowing slowly across a boulder-strewn valley with the mountains beyond

What a difference a week—and a couple days of frost—can make! Last week up in the Bear Lake area of Rocky Mountain National Park, we saw just the first hints of the aspens turning. This week they were in full autumn glory in some areas, including along the trail to Lake Helene that we were hiking on.

Photos can only give a hint of what it feels like to walk amongst sun illuminated autumn aspens. The quality of light and the shimmering of the brightly hued leaves in the breeze creates an atmosphere that I can only describe as being bathed in joy.

Aspens spilling down the hillside above Bear Lake in the early morning sun

On the trail from Bear Lake up towards Lake Helene.

A clump of multi-colored aspens against the blue sky

Looking through the aspens out across the valley.

Aspens frmae the view across the valley towards the distant mountains

A trio of aspens framed by pines.

Three bright gold aspens framed by deep green pines

A view of the mountains through the aspens.

The mountains surrounding Bear Lake seen above a stand of aspens

A multi-colored aspen against the deep blue sky.

A stunning contrast of colors: yellow and peach-colored leaves against a deep blue sky

Garima coming up the trail.

Garima hiking up the trail under an aspen just starting to turn

Striated trail-side boulder captures me.

The shadow of my hat and camera outlined on a striated boulder

One of my favorite views in Rocky Mountain National Park, conveying such a sense of what it's like to be high up in the mountains, nearly at tree line.

The trail winding across the scree field

Walking under a mid-morning moon.

A small quarter-moon gracing the deep blue sky above the mountains

A pair of yellow-bellied marmots frolicking on the rocks, chattering away.

Two marmots atop boulders in the scree field

This only begins to give a sense of what it feels like to walk across a scree field with a river of mountain fragments poised above you.

Looking up the scree field

Looking up towards Notchtop Mountain on the approach to Lake Helene.

Looking up a scree field interspersed with pines at Notchtop Mountain

Lake Helene showing signs of autumn.

The lake surrounded by yellowing grasses and red bushes

The glacial brook winding towards Lake Helene.

This brook feeds directly from a glacier that is hanging on the side of the mountain, just a few feet abvoe Lake Helene

Beautiful Bog Birch bush growing out of the rock outcropping we sat on for lunch.

I'm always amazed at how much can grow out of rock

Looking across the valley towards Glacier Gorge.

A view of Alberta Falls and Glacier Creek spilling through the aspen forests across the valley

On the trail back down, approaching Bear Lake.

We're once again immersed in glowing aspens

Our last dose of aspen gold before the hike's end.

The final approach to Bear Lake is thick with aspens

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