So, why would I need to find Redemption at Chasm Lake? Well, because this hike beat me once. Beat me bad! And it has not only been a sore spot ever since, but it has been a hike that has intimidated me and made me tremble in fear at the thought of trying it again. I know. Strange. We've done longer hikes. We've done hikes with more elevation gain. And we've done hikes that had reputations for being harder -- but for me -- NONE had a stronghold over my soul like Chasm Lake.
The first time I tried it was maybe our 2nd trip to the Rockies. We had done no preparation as far as working out -- and -- we tried it on our first or 2nd day there. We weren't RMNPforum members yet, so no one less clueless was able to tell us that Chasm Lake probably wasn't the best idea for an acclimation hike! So, in addition to huffing and puffing within yards of the trailhead -- I had extreeeeeme altitude issues: pounding, throbbing head, nausea, and more than a bit of insanity for trying to continue on such a daunting hike feeling so horrible. But, being the "don't quit under any circumstances (and did I mention insane)" hikers we are, we eventually made it. I couldn't believe it. We made it. We sat up there in victory, totally spent, but there, and I knew the thrill of victory would give me enough energy to get me home. When we got back to the trailhead, I threw off my camera -- tripod -- shoes and collapsed in the car. I noticed curiously that Bill was spending an awful lot of time studying the trail map at the trailhead. "Hmmmm. Wonder what that's about." Then: "Ummm. . . .we didn't make it to Chasm Lake. We stopped at Peacock Pool. Chasm was around the corner less than a mile away. Auuuuuuuuuugh. It was just around the corner and we MISSED IT! So, that was the context of my memories of Chasm Lake. It had quite the psychological disadvantage over me.
Ok, so fast forward to this year. This time, I did work -- so hard -- at getting in shape, with thoughts of "the prize" just after the Peacock Pool always in my mind. I was ready -- but still quite intimidated. We got up on a BEAUTIFUL, clear Colorado morning -- or I should say night. It was way before sunrise and we began our hike under a blanket of the most glorious stars I'd ever seen. It still takes my breath away to see the night skies over the Rocky Mountains. Orrrr. ..was that the first mile, mile-and-a-half, of very steeep hiking that was taking my breath away? It was steep! That first part of the hike thru the trees is very steep! But I was trying to make it to treeline by sunrise -- so I was not wasting any time. And unbelievably, I felt great. At one point, I even left Bill a little behind me, and even raced past this group of 7 snobby hikers who had snootily passed us up earlier with attitudes of: "Move over, you wannabe's, real hikers are trying to get by." But by now, they were slumped over on stumps gasping for air waiving me on -- a bit more humble at this point.
When we made it to about treeline, we saw the most beautiful sight: a blanket of clouds below us covering the lower part of the park. It was so beautiful! My first 2 pictures above are my attempts at trying to capture it, but I had to shoot right into the rising sun, so they aren't the best photographic-wise.
As we passed Peacock Pool, still feeling awesome, I started feeling so happy. I knew I was really going to do it. In one piece. Even wondering why this hike had scared me so much.
It was SO BEAUTIFUL! I was blown away by the soft, lush meadows after Peacock Pool. And waterfalls streaming from the mountains. The beauty took my breath away even more than the altitude.
I will say tho that even tho I had heard that the last leg was "a scramble", we were surprised at just how much of a scramble it really was. It was a SCRAMBLE! I'm not sure we took the easiest route -- I hope not -- because we were climbing over rocks, boulders, and trying to fit ourselves and our feet in places that just weren't meant to be a "trail". I got some pictures of Bill heading up "the scramble".
Then: we came over a ledge. . . .and there it was. The most beautiful sight I had ever seen. Chasm Lake. With clouds swirling and dancing over Long's Peak. Mirror reflections in the water. And not another soul was there. We had the lake all to ourselves. It was crisp and cool. . .and STUNNING! And our hiking time from trailhead to lake was a little less than 3 hours. For us -- THAT is STUNNING :)
We ate our lunch there and I snapped pictures at every glorious angle just making sure I didn't miss anything. Even tho it was after sunrise -- I thought it was so beautiful.
While we were there tho, the clouds were hanging so THICK over Long's that you couldn't even see the peak. Beautiful in its own right, but I did want at least one picture of the lake where you could see Long's Peak behind it. We waited and waited and waited. But those thick clouds were not going ANYWHERE! :( Finally, realizing that there have been days where I have noticed clouds hanging over the peak of Long's all day, I started to give up and pack up to leave. As I was folding up my tripod, I decided to appeal to a higher source than even Mother Nature: "Hey, God, I do remember Erik once asking you to open up the clouds over Dream Lake and you did it. . . .ummmm. . . .surely you like me as much as you do him, sooooo, if it's not too much trouble, could you please open up those clouds over Long's Peak. . .for just a minute???? Pleeeease???"
Ta-daaaaaaaaaaaaa. Believe it or not. . .within minutes, the clouds opened up -- for just long enough for me to snap my last picture of the lake, with a majestic Long's Peak in full view! :) "Thanks, God! For that. . .and for sweet redemption at Chasm Lake!"
Elevation 11,780 Feet . Elevation Gain from Trailhead 2,380 feet . 8.4 miles round trip