We didn't get to hike last weekend because of our first snowstorm in the mountains of the year. So this weekend we knew we wanted to get out and hike something. Since Rocky Mountain National Park isn't requiring timed entry permits anymore, that's where we headed. They haven't required timed entry permits for several weeks now, but we also wanted to wait until November to make the most out of buying a new annual pass into the park since ours expired at the end of September. The pass we bought is good through the end of November of 2024, so by buying at the beginning of the month we essentially get 13 months of use out of it.
When deciding what time to get to the trailhead we were trying to balance out making sure Katie got enough sleep and the parking lot not being packed. So I set my alarm for 6:45 but we did not realize that with daylight savings we would end up sleeping in an hour later than we needed to in order to get a good night's rest before our hike. But that was fine since the parking lot was barely half-full by the time we arrived around 9:30. I was surprised the parking lot wasn't full, but the weather was forecasted to be very windy, so maybe that deterred a few people from coming into the park today.
Despite the forecast for wind, we chose a hike that would put us above the treeline by summiting Flattop Mountain. I'm not sure why we thought it would be a good idea to be above the treeline on a windy day, but we have been wanting to do this hike now for quite a while, and we're now only strong enough to be able to do this hike and this seemed like a good opportunity. Once we got above the treeline after about 2 miles of hiking, it was pure wind on our faces as we struggled to get to a small overlook of Tyndall Glacier and Hallet Peak. The wind was so forceful as we hiked into it that it took extra energy to power up the mountain. After eating lunch in a small naturally created rock shelter, we decided we didn't care to summit Flattop Mountain. Given its name, we knew we wouldn't get better views and the true summit is up for debate since the whole area was flat (ish). We were about 1/4-mile from the true summit, but that's good enough for us.
The wind posed a dangerous threat to us, but we were mostly prepared. We didn't have any hand warmers because it's been too early in the season to consider those. But otherwise, we were adequately prepared with several layers, hats, and gloves. Before starting the hike we were thinking of possibly continuing on to Hallet Peak, which would be a really cool peak to summit. It is the tallest mountain in the local area and would provide excellent views of more lakes. Even without summiting to the top of Hallet Peak (or even Flattop Mountain truly), we saw 8 different lakes on the hike: Bear Lake, Bierstadt Lake, Spraug Lake, Mills Lake, Jewel Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, and Estes Lake. Another lake in the distance to the East might have been either Lake Loveland or Boyd Lake. But either way, it was an astonishingly great hike for seeing all the lakes in the area. Getting to Hallet Peak would have gotten us at least 1 more view of Lake Haiyaha, and possibly a view of Nymph Lake. We'll save summiting Hallet Peak for a different day with nicer weather.