A few weeks ago I was up hanging out with my dad since Toni was out of town and he can’t drive due to a car accident he was recently in. While up visiting him he was telling me about a place he has seen pictures of that he wanted to go backpack in and take some pictures. After he showed me a picture of this place, I decided I had to go there myself. I probably should have waited until he was better enough to go with me. But I was too impatient and I’ve been wanting to get out camping or backpacking for a while now .. I was raring to go.
I looked it up online and found a good article about the hike: Pro Trails – Crater Lake and Mirror Lake … I sent in to the ranger station in Boulder to get my overnight permit, and had my date set for just a couple weeks later.
Brian, Zip, and myself took off Friday after we got off work and got ourselves some dinner. Zip was so excited to go. He had been a nervous wreck for a day or two because he saw me packing my bags and was afraid I was going to leave him behind. When we went to walk out he door the final time we decided to tease him and told him he had to stay home. He started wining and when we opened the door he said the hell with it and ran to the car.
Even though we could have driven to the trail head the morning of, we decided to break it up a little and stayed the night in Winter Park. In the morning after having a … well standard continental breakfast, we made our way to the Monarch Lake trail head. Zip was bouncing around and ready to go. We put on our packs and made our way up to the ranger station to check in, then up the trail we went.
While hiking along the side of Crater lake, we encountered our first wildlife sighting … a moose out in the lake having a snack. I realized my first mistake of the trip, I had forgotten my bigger zoom lens. All I had was my new 12-35mm (24-70 Equiv) and 7-14mm (14-28 Equiv) lenses that I had picked up for our upcoming trip to Italy. I didn’t have a lens that could really reach the moose. I tried to get as close as my nerves would allow. But in the end I really had to crop the photo to get this ..
About halfway up the trail, you come across Cascade Falls. We stopped there and I tried to wait until some clouds came overhead so I could get a good shot. But while waiting i noticed that my battery light on my camera was blinking (Second mistake of the trip). We had a family take our family photo of the trip and then headed on our way.
We stopped around 1:30 to have a delicious lunch break of tuna and crackers … yay. Zip tried unsuccessfully to get comfortable right on top of some pointy rocks. The family we had take our picture came hiking back down and warned us of a cow moose that was in the middle of the trail that wasn’t letting anybody past (which is why they headed back). When we got up to that point, the moose had made its way on for the day and we never saw it. The rest of the trip all the wildlife we saw was so many squirrels and chipmunks Zip could barely contain himself.
While passing through one of the meadows on the upper part of the trail, I stopped to take some pictures of the wildflowers. One of them had a bee collecting some nectar and I was about to snap a photo when I noticed a trail runner heading my way. I stepped back off the trail to let him pass, but as he neared me, rather than staying on the trail, he ran off the trail and stepped right on the bee/flower I was about to take a photo of … so much for that shot!
We reached Mirror Lake right before a heavier rain was about to set in, and I snapped two photos with my camera, not wanting to waste any battery since I wanted to get a couple shots in the morning. I ended up taking some more photos with my phone, which turned out to be my favorite of the trip, though they are disappointing since the peak isn’t sharp if you look closely at them.
We set up camp and barely had it set up before the afternoon storm really set in. We all crashed for a while since the altitude was getting to us. We woke up later for long enough to cook us up our freeze dried meals, and sterilize some water, then back to the tent and bed we went. Zip woke us up in the middle of the night since he was freezing and wouldn’t stop shivering. Brian ended up pulling him in the sleeping bag to keep him warm for the night. Not to self .. Get zip a sleeping bag.
I woke up in the morning before the sun came up. But soon found out that my battery was completely dead for my camera. Looks like I’m going to have to be coming back up to get a better picture of this amazing place. The next time I can bring my dad and be his guide…