Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hell's Hole Trail 2012

Took Ginny to the Mount Evans Wilderness Monday to hike the Hell's Hole Trail.  Zak and I had come three years ago, but didn't get very far.  And I'm too goal-oriented to be satisfied without making it to the end. :)

Unlike Royal Arch on Saturday, crowds were not an issue when we arrived at the trailhead about 9:15.

It's definitely the time of year in Colorado when you need two different outfits -- one for the morning when the night's chill is still in the air and a thin layer of ice can cover a creek, and a lighter one for the afternoon after the sun has had a chance to warm things up.

Snow wasn't an issue, but it did have an obvious presence that was likely going to persist through next May.

The end of the trail came somewhat abruptly.  Lodgepole pines gave way to bristlecones and willows, then a sizable alpine knoll.

After several overcast hikes in a row, it was nice to have a day with bright sun and vivid blue skies.

The bristlecones were the most visually striking sights at the end of the trail, including one that was no longer upright.  I had no idea they were regarded as the longest-living organisms on the planet, with one in California estimated at nearly 5,000 years old.

I'd never hiked to a glacial cirque that didn't have a lake in it before.  Not sure why Hell's Hole is just a shallow mud pit instead.  Still seems like sort of a harsh name, though.

West Chicago Creek was still running well.  And I was perplexed as to where exactly the water was coming from.

A couple of sections of the trail cut through some very thick aspen groves, which were still pretty striking even without their leaves.

I thought the ice on the surface of this section of the creek would have melted by the time I got back to it, but I was glad it hadn't.  Definitely added some interesting texture to the reflection of the aspens.

The combination of ice and fallen leaves is something you only get this time of year.  So you need to take advantage of it to try and get some unique pictures.

We covered the eight miles and 1,700 feet of elevation gain in a pretty brisk four hours and 10 minutes.  Most of the trail is pretty rocky, which did slow us down some.  But most of it is also pretty treed in so there wasn't much to stop and photograph.  All in all, a solid Colorado hike!


Orontes said...

That last picture is amazing.

SteveHarbula said...

Thanks! With all those elements to work with -- the ice, the water, the rocks, the leaves -- I was really hoping to get something decent. :)