Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coloradio nS0TA in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park Radio Adventures
For three days I hiked 3 different peaks in Rocky Mtn National Park (RMNP) the first week of August. I had never visited the Park before and now understand why it was preserved as a national resource in 1915. Nearly 1/3 of the Park is above treeline, 11,400 ft. A number of its Peaks are SOTA-qualified, an Activators paradise!

Early Tuesday, Aug 2, I was up early, eager to get into the Park and the Bear Lake Trailhead for Hallett Pk/W0/FR-019. I didn't know what to expect logistically but with some advanced help from Rich/W0LI, a local residing in Estes Park, I found my way to the Park & Ride to Bear Lake. The Park is crowded with visitors, especially those from the midwest trying to escape the August heat. Parking is limited and the easiest/fastest way to get around the Park is by the frequent shuttle buses.

See my pictures for this trip.
The Flattop trail is well-traveled and maintained. The challenge is the 3,400 ft elevation gain from 9,300 to 12,700 ft, not an easy task for a flatlander! The Flattop Trail is one of the more popular hikes, characterized by many vista overlooks and a lot of people hiking the trail. The top of Flattop is non-descript. Follow the signs and rock cairns to Hallett Peak. Be sure to look "into" the Tyndall Glacier at the sign. Just spectacular! Hallet is a rock/boulder climb in many places and certainly wind exposed. Follow the rock cairns to the peak. See this link for more climbing information.

For Day 2 of my 3 day odyssey in RMNP, I chose to hike Ypsilon Peak (W0/FR-009-13,414') in the Mummy Range just east of the Alpine Center. Access to the Chapin Trailhead is up the ONE WAY Old Trail Head Road which just opened days before my arrival due to excessive snow depths. If the road is closed, it is possible to hike down the 1 mile to Chapin Trailhead from the Alpine Center. I had a Nat'l Geographic Map #200 which has sufficient detail and includes most trails. Stop at any of the Visitor's Centers for trailmap pamphlets.

These Mummy Range trails are not part of the "official" trail system in RMNP and, as a result, will not appear on maps. Don't know why but I suspect the Forest Service doesn't want to encourage hiking in this area. But the Chapin Trail is hiked often to be easily navigable although trail head parking is very limited...maybe 10 cars or so. Get there early for a parking spot. Access to the Old Trail Head Road is off Hyw 34 and is a narrow gravel/dirt road. See this link 
for more information. See some pictures at this link.

For Day 3 of my 3 day odessey in RMNP, I chose to hike Sundance Peak (W0/FR-019-12,416') in the Mummy Range just east of the Alpine Center. The goal was to meet up with 3 of the "locals" to demo a SOTA Activation at or near sunrise! W0LI/Rich, NQ4O/Dan, and KD4PDW/David. Rich is retired in Estes Park, Dan is a Park Ranger and David is 2-week old ham but works in Estes Park.

Take Hwy 34 west and about 3-1/2 miles past the Rainbow Curves vista pullout, you will find an unmarked pullout on the downhill side of the road. I had a Nat'l Geographic Map #200 which has sufficient road detail and includes most trails and vista locations. See these links
for more information and my pictures ,