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432 Finch and Pear Lakes 2011-07-07

Finch Lake

There is a lot of snow in Rocky Mountain National Park. Today is the 7th of July and just looking at the mountains the snow line is still on the mountains. All the sources, on line and at the Park, report snow and impassable snow at most locations above 10,500 feet. Still, I am anxious to hike and climb higher.

I finally decided to venture into one of the snow zones and see how bad it really was. I would do the hike to Finch Lake and then proceed to Pear Lake. The entrance ranger at Wild Basin reported that no one had reported reaching Pear Lake, there was too much snow.

Starting at the Finch Lake Trailhead, the trail climbs steadily to cross a moraine or ridge, very similar to the one on the other side of the valley on the Sandbeach Lake Trail. On the other side of the ridge the trail traverses a wonderful high meadow with flowers in full bloom. The easy trail was short lived. Soon it climbed again; but afforded good views of the peaks to the north for the effort.

After the Calypso Cascade Trail junction, the trail mainly traverses, by rolling over ridges to the Finch Lake/Cony Creek drainage. Here it crosses a bridge over a stream and then descends sharply. Walking down the steep grade made me post a note to myself, I was going to have to climb the hill on the return.

Finch Lake is a scenic beauty. Mount Copeland stands guard over the lake's west shores. A small snow bank was crossed; but was hardly enough snow to even mention. From Finch Lake, the trail goes around the north side of Finch Lake and continues to Pear Lake, two miles away.

Leaving Finch Lake there was snow immediately. Four and five feet of snow blocked the trail; but a boot path carved the way. The hidden trail was easy to follow and soon the snow ended. I passed the Finch Lake Campsites and continued on a wet but snow free trail. The closer I walked to Pear Lake the more snow blocked the trail. Where snow was not on the trail, water from the snow turned the trails into streams.

At the Cony Creek crossing, near the campsites, I met a few backpackers. They had not even tried to reach Pear Lake. It was a short distance, but was all snow.

Following unknown boot prints I headed over the snow covered land seeking out the unmarked trail. Soon I found that tracks led everywhere. I didn't want to go everywhere, I just wanted to find Pear Lake. After killing too much time and effort, I pulled out the gps and started trying to find the path. The path indicated on the gps map, had not been traveled. Finally, I found an open area near Cony Creek and followed the creek to the Pear Lake outlet. It was a hard two miles from Finch Lake.


Pear Lake outlet


Returning, over the snow and trail I met several hikers along the way. They were all headed toward the snowy land of Pear Lake. They were happy to find that I had found it and were eager for any navigation suggestions. I later checked the news to make sure no one was lost in the snow near Pear Lake!

Past Finch Lake, the trail that I had earlier made a note about was as steep as I thought it would be. Back at the junction with the trail to Calypso Cascades, I decided to return to the trailhead by that trail. After about a mile of downhill, the roar of the cascades grew louder and louder. The cascades were overflowing the banks and covered the trail near the bridges. My feet had not been dry since early on the hike, so I made a quick but wet crossing.

From Calypso Cascades it was all downhill along the Wild Basin Trail. Of course the easy scenic trail was filled with other hikers like me enjoying the day.

It was a good day and a good hike. I would suggest that, unless you are ready for an adventure, trust what the Ranger tells you!

A few Finch Lake Trail notes ...

Water and restrooms are available as you enter the Wild Basin area.

The trailhead is a small parking area with no water or facilities.

The Finch Lake trail is about 5 miles and the Pear Lake adds 2 more miles. Returning on Wild Basin Trail adds to the overall mileage.

The water in all the streams was very high when I hiked the trail due to late spring snows and rain.

Happy Finch Lake and Pear Lake trails.


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