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458 Upper Chipmunk BC Site 2011-08-16

Chipmunk Lake

Mummy Range from Chipmunk Lake

After Pikes Peak, we had only a few days left to our summer trip. We decided to return to the Park (Rocky Mountain) and go backcountry for an overnight trip.

Saturday night we spent the evening packing and readying for the trip. Sunday morning we returned to Lawn Lake Trailhead and finally found a parking space. The trailhead was crowded but it was a weekend.

Soon we were climbing the switchbacks on the one-mile climb to the Roaring River overlooks. The river level was down considerably from our last visit to the area. Continuing on the Lawn Lake Trail we turned west after about .40 miles onto the Ypsilon Lake Trail.


Bridge over Roaring River

Bridge Crossing Roaring River

After crossing a bridge, we began the climb. The trail climbs steadily to a shoulder and then continues along that shoulder for a good while. We were seasoned with miles of summer hiking but still felt the climb.

The trail reaches an opening at 2.60 miles. After that point, the trail continues to climb after that point but not as continually steep as before. Along the way, there are few great views of Mount Ypsilon.


The opening where the steepness of the trail eases

The Opening Where the Trail's Difficulty Eases Up a Bit

In researching the route, we did not find consistent mileage numbers. The two dominant numbers we found differed by about 1.5 miles. We naturally prepared for the longer distance. At about mile 3.6 we stopped for a break. After some water and nourishment we continued and soon found we had stopped for our lunch very close to Chipmunk Lake. We thought that we had at least a couple more miles to walk, when we actually had less than a half mile.


Ypsilon view

Mount Ypsilon

After enjoying a few views of Chipmunk Lake, we continued to the Upper Chipmunk backcountry sites. The big site was already taken but we liked both sites, so it really didn't matter to us which one we had. After setting the tent and securing the food and other scented items, we left for a short hike to Ypsilon Lake.

Returning to the main trail we continued to Ypsilon Lake. It's a good idea to keep in mind that the trail goes downhill to Chipmunk Lake and then to Ypsilon Lake. That means you have to climb those 'it's-steeper-than-it-felt-like-going-down-hill' hills on the return! After exploring the lake's inlet, we then walked around the south shore. When we finally decided to leave, we followed a maze of faint paths up a steep slope that put us on the same bench as our campsite.


Backcountry site

Upper Chipmunk Backcountry Site

After completing a couple of chores, I decided to walk back down toward Ypsilon Lake and build a better cairned path. Amy soon joined me and we were laying out an obvious path from the lake to our site. Building the cairns was fun and finding a simple route that was easy to follow was even more enjoyable. After a few hours we returned to camp and dinner.

We crawled into the tent early and were asleep in minutes despite our claims of wanting to stay awake and read. It had been a good day.

A few Ypsilon Lake Trail notes ...

Lawn Lake Trailhead was packed when we arrived. It was a weekend though and just about in the middle of the day.

The trailhead had privies but no water.

The trail was easy to follow and signed at every junction.

The pine beetles had killed many of the trees in the area.

The Park employee who helped with our permit suggested that we should avoid dead standing trees when making camp. We surveyed the area and decided that we were safe on the designated tent pad.

We used the bear container and it survived the night untouched. Of course I don't think there were any bears in the area. See the note below.

We didn't see any chipmunks at Chipmunk Lake. In fact, we didn't see any animals at all! There were a lot of insects though. In particular, there were a LOT of mosquitoes. Clouds of their blood sucking breed surrounded us. I have a theory... the mosquitoes either killed or drove away all of the chipmunks and, for that matter, all the other animals from the area. We were the only red blooded creatures and hence their attraction to us. Maybe they should rename Chipmunk Lake to Skeeter Lake, the renaming would be more representative of the area's dominant species.

Happy Chipmunk trails


The next day ... Spectacle Lakes


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