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947 Longs Peak - Keyhole 2014-08-06

elk on the slopes of Longs Peak, below the Boulderfield

Elk on the slopes below the Boulderfield

We are back home in Nashville. Our trip to the Rockies was very good. We collected a lot of data for maps and guides and had a lot of fun. We still have a few trips to report from the summer including Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park and so it goes ...

Originally, we were hoping to climb Kieners this summer. As the climbing date grew closer, the less we wanted to do the route. Oh, we wanted to do the climb, we just didn't want to carry the gear up for the climb. We are getting lazy in our old age and heavy packs are just not that appealing anymore!

Then, as second best route, we were hoping to do Clarks Arrow. That is a fun route and not much harder than the Keyhole. We were not going to make a decision until Chasm Junction on the day of the climb.

Before going to sleep, we set an alarm for early the next morning. We were both up and moving before the alarm thought about sounding. In just a few minutes we were walking from the Longs Peak Campground to the trailhead.

For some reason, the self registration log at the Longs Peak Trailhead did not have any pages in the binder. We meant to ask about the missing pages, but forgot. The pages were not missing, the Park had not resupplied the pages. The log was a good source of current conditions on the mountain. Of course the accuracy of the information was questionable, but it was still useful. We deduced that the log was removed for liability reasons, but really are not sure.

morning sun looking across the alpine tundra

Morning below Chasm Junction

The first light found us nearing Chasm Junction. After a quick stop to relieve ourselves we had to make a decision as to which route we were going to do. The forecast we read at the trailhead was 50% chance of rain starting at 0900. Talking to some other hikers we joked around at the forecast. It was after all a perfect morning. We still opted to stay on the Keyhole, because down deep, we still respected the forecast.

With morning, we picked up the pace and soon were climbing the long switchbacks toward the Boulderfield. A large herd of elk were grazing just above the upper switchbacks. They seemed unconcerned with our presences.

looking back through the Keyhole

The Keyhole

After another short break at the Boulderfield to adjust our footwear and clothing, we were on our way. Making our way through the Boulderfield we crossed through the Keyhole.

It was a bit surprising that the route was not crowded. I don't remember the last time I had seen so few of people on the route. Maybe everyone heeded the weather forecast. One person passed us on the route and we only passed about 20 or so. Not only were we surprised by the lack of hikers, but also the lack of water. The rock was dry, even the Homestretch.

The massive, flat, summit of Longs

Longs broad summit area

Soon we were on top looking across the broad plateau. We do not linger on the summits. After a bit of food, we were reversing the route - back down the Homestretch, across the Narrows, down the Trough, across the Ledges, through the Keyhole, and down to the Boulderfield. On the trail we stopped for a few minutes to filter water and get a bite to eat just below the Boulderfield.

We did not run down the mountain, but we did set a good pace and soon were back at the trailhead. It was 1300 - one o'clock. Minutes later the rains came and it rained the rest of the afternoon. We thought about all of the folks we had met on the mountain. Most of them were not moving fast. We knew they were getting wet. All we could do, was to hope they had good rain gear.

It did not rain at 0900 (there was only a 50% chance) but the skies emptied at 1300. We had made good decisions with our route selection and speed of travel. It was another good day on Longs Peak.

Happy Longs Peak trails


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