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824 Lawn Lake

Lawn Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

On Monday, we drove to Lawn Lake Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park and began a mini-backcountry adventure. To get ready for the trip, we were busy as beavers, Sunday night. As we tried to pack, many items that we knew were in the car, came up missing! Finally packed, our packs were a bit heavier than we wanted, but the ranger had warned us that the camping sites would be in snow. We packed heavyweight gear to match the predicted conditions.

Leaving the campground near Estes Park, we stopped by the Safeway for fresh doughnuts and other bakery items and then headed into the Park. For breakfast we ate the sugar and grease dough balls. Then, by the time we reached the trailhead we were running to the privy! The pastries were good, they just didn't sit well on our stomachs.

Our scenic hike to the Lake was uneventful. It did rain on us a bit and we stopped and took shelter under our new ponchos. The lightweight covering did a great job as temporary shelter, but was not ideal for walking.

Approaching Lawn Lake, as the trail nears the outlet

Near the Outlet from Lawn Lake

The walk itself was at a steady grade. In almost exactly 3 hours, we arrived at Lawn Lake. There were multiple sites at the backcountry camping location at Lawn Lake. We poked around until we found an unoccupied site, set up our tent, and began preparing for Tuesdays climb.

That night we tried to sleep, but it just didn't happen. Amy still had a tummy ache and I had a major headache. I attributed both incidents to altitude. Some folks do not have trouble with sleeping high, but we definitely do. The old adage is to climb high and sleep low. We had already climbed to over 12,000 feet, but had not slept at over 8,500 feet. So we climbed to 11,000 feet and slept there. Well, no we didn't, we climbed to 11,000 feet and didn't sleep there, we just laid in the tent wishing we were lower.

from the summit of Mount Fairchild

Fairchild Summit looking at Blitzen Ridge on Ypsilon

Morning could not come soon enough. We were out of the tent feeling bad, but still going toward Mount Fairchild, a neighboring summit. The climb was not difficult but it seemed as if we tried to make it so. We struggled all the way to the top. Storms came early and coupled with our poor performance on climbing Fairchild, we had to return early to our camp.

We moved as quickly as needed, to reach tree line before the storms hit. From inside the tent, we listened to the rain and wished we felt better.

Storm over Hagues

Approaching Storm over Hagues

Wednesday, we walked back to the trailhead, once again moving strong. It's funny how altitude sickness works, but when you have that constant headache, tummy ache, and lethargy - then you are probably experiencing some degree of the sickness. The cure is simple - go down. Oh, and Monica, we didn't turn green, but Amy did ask if she was looking green :-)

A few notes to Lawn Lake ...

The hike to the Lake is just over 6 miles and climbs 2,500 feet.

The hike is shaded and is at a moderate grade. The first mile and last quarter of a mile are probably the overall steepest.

At the Lake there are 4 numbered backcountry sites. One of the sites seemed to be closed. There was no way of finding which sites were available without walking to each site.

Our site was snowfree and protected.

Many fishermen use the lake. I don't know what they were catching or how much fun it was, but they stood across the lake a long time acting busy.

The climb to Fairchild was about 3 miles and 2,500 more feet in elevation. There was a trail over part of the route, the rest was cross-country.

We had snow. An ice axe and traction devices would help make the snow safer.

The snow could be avoided by careful route finding or waiting a couple of weeks before attempting the peak.

Lawn Lake makes a great day hike or backcountry overnight. Wish you were here!

Happy Lawn Lake trails


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