We were at the trailhead at 6 am for what would prove to be a ver-r-ry long and exhilarating day. We had heard so much about this hike. We both were anxious to get going, but our motto had become "slow & easy", so we set a nice slow pace. We had done the Alberta Falls portion of the trail so often that I'm afraid we flew by without so much as a glance. About 2 miles into the hike, the trail splits. We took the trail to the left and started descending into Glacier Gorge. Gorgeous (no pun intended) scenery all around! Beautiful forest & the cool of the morning just left you feeling electric. Up a fairly steep stairway of stone and across some cairn marked bedrock and more forest for a half mile or so and you are there! Wow! Possibly the most beautiful scene we had ever seen unfolded before us. The sight looking across Mills, surrounded by forest, with The Keyboard & Pagoda in the distance just gave me chills. I will always have that picture in my mind when I think of the Rockies. We walked along its shore taking photo after photo of the lake for an hour or so, then decided it was time to move on. Jewel Lake was next and is really no more than an extension of Mills. Jewel Lake is surrounded by marsh, and the trail is actually a series of split logs laid out across the bog. The grass had turned golden and still had a scattering of wildflowers throughout. But we had our sights on Black Lake, so on we trudged. The trail guides show the distance from Mills Lake to Black as being about 2 to 2.5 miles, but I swear to you it's really 4 -5 miles. We felt fine -- no breathing or photo stops, just a nice steady pace -- but the trail just kept going: on and on and on! The trail follows along Glacier Creek, and most of the way you are surrounded by the soothing sounds of rushing water. We stopped at one point to fill our hydration pack and were treated to the sight of trout just hanging out in the most crystal clear stream we'd ever seen -- just waiting for a meal. Finally, we came upon Ribbon Falls and we knew we were near!
Black Lake is as stark as Mills is wooded. There are some scattered trees, but the sheer face of McHenry's is what catches your eye. Just awesome! We stopped for lunch, photo ops and just to rest up, surrounded all around by God's beauty. We decide we have enough left in our tank to try for Frozen, so we pack up & head out. The trail to Frozen begins with a vertical (as in straight up) rock scramble next to a small stream. For the first time, we begin to think "this is more than we can handle" but decided we'd come too far to quit. The trail eventually levels out and winds thru krummholz and tundra that are a beautiful red & gold. We climb up & across a small waterfall and we're there! Where "there" is becomes a little confusing because we are now on the largest rock shelf I've ever seen. Above us to the left are the summits of Longs Peak, The Keyboard & Pagoda. They are so close you can touch them! To the right are Spearhead and McHenry's. Our tracking skills are put to the test as we try to figure which cairns lead where. Cairns are everywhere and without a map, we would probably still be up there. We ran into another hiker who was kind enough to to point us in the right direction. After making it to one ledge after the other, hoping that it would be the one that showed us the lake on the other side, we FINALLY climbed up one last large rock ledge (actually a mountain) to our right, and there it was! Frozen Lake is beautiful! It's desolate -- but clean and the mountains surrounding it are larger than life! Well worth the effort. As luck would have it, the weather began to change, so as soon as we arrived, it was time to leave. Sandy's camera battery died after only one photo anyway :( But we were there -- & we will never forget this wonderful adventure. We had, in one hike, been thru dense forest, sat by the shores of three gloriously beautiful lakes, walked across gorgeous marshland, drank from a cold mountain stream, eaten lunch by a mountain lake and stood at the feet of majestic mountain summits. All-in-all not a bad way to spend the day! Amen!