Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Solitude Lake, Part III

Click here for Part II.

My journey to Solitude Lake was finally about to reach its climax, and I was gassed.  It's just another third of a mile and 200 feet of elevation gain from Shelf Lake to Solitude.  But I only took it about 50 steps at a time.  Tired as I was, I was determined to follow one of my cardinal rules of hiking in the Rockies: Whenever there's an upper and lower lake at the end of the trail, always make the push to the upper one.

And once again, I was glad I did.

Solitude Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
It's not hard to understand how Solitude Lake got its name.  It takes a tough ascent on an unmaintained trail to get to.  The stark rock walls and clear blue water feel a bit otherworldly.

Solitude Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
Did I say blue water?  From some angles it appeared a deep emerald green instead.

Solitude Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
There's a special kind of beauty in places like this that can be tough to appreciate.  Knowing how few people make the trek definitely adds to the appeal.

Shelf Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the reasons you always continue to the upper lake is so you can get the sweet view of the lower one.

Shelf Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
Interesting what a difference a couple hundred feet can make in vegetation.  Shelf had a fair amount of greenery around it, while Solitude was pretty barren.

Glacier Gorce, Rocky Mountain National Park
The view from here to the south down Glacier Gorge to Black Lake, Longs Peak and so on was almost too much to take in.  Just a mind-numbingly expansive vista.

Golden-mantled ground squirrel
The camera went back into the bag for my descent, only coming out again when I was firmly on maintained trail.  I switched from my wide angle lens to my zoom in case I saw any wildlife, even though there hadn't been any of note to that point.  As if on cue, animals like this golden-mantled ground squirrel enjoying a snack started appearing.

Wild turkey, Rocky Mountain National Park
The Wild Kingdom moments continued after I'd gotten back to my car.  A tom turkey keeping watchful eye over a small group of hens circled warily around me to cross Bear Lake Road.

Black bear, Rocky Mountain National Park
Then a first for me in RMNP -- a bear jam caused by a female ...

Black bear cubs, Rocky Mountain National Park
... and her two cubs.  Disappointed I didn't get better shots, but it was still a thrill to see them.

Bull elk, Rocky Mountain National Park
The embarrassment of riches continued with a big bull elk getting an early start on the rut in Moraine Park.

Bull elk, Rocky Mountain National Park
He practiced his bugling, too.  But just the pose.  No sound actually came out, which was kind of weird.

Thoroughly exhausted but completely satisfied, I made the long drive back home.  Taking 2 1/2 weeks to go through all the shots has been somewhat intentional, as it's given me more time to reflect back on a special day.  Now it's time to plan another!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures! I've been to RMNP several times but have never been toLake Solitude. I remembered there was a Lake Solitude in the park when I was preparing a blogpost about Jeffrey Eugenides's short story "Extreme Solitude" today. Would you mind if I shared one of your pics in my post? I'll link back to your blog, of course.

SteveHarbula said...

Thanks so much for the kind words! You can absolutely use one of my photos on your post, and I appreciate the link. Send me the link to your post when it's up and I'll return the favor.

Solitude Lake was fantastic, as much because of the effort required to reach it as anything. :)

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Great! Thanks! I'll leave another message when I comolete the post.

Anonymous said...

My post that includes your photo is at

Thanks again for allowing me to use. :-)

SteveHarbula said...

Very cool! I've linked to your blog post from the left sidebar of this blog, under the heading "Other Places to See My Pics."