I don’t normally wake up before 5 a.m. voluntarily, however I make exceptions for hiking at Rocky Mountain National Park. After another successful staycation weekend, I decided to hike Sky Pond today. My family actually hiked Sky Pond a couple of years ago when we were Midwestern tourists in Colorado (sorry) but for some reason I sat the hike out. Anyway, today was my first experience with Sky Pond and it will not be my last if I have anything to do with it.
The Sky Pond hike starts at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead, which has even fewer parking spaces than the Bear Lake Trailhead, and there were already ten or so cars in the tiny parking lot when I got there right after 7 a.m. I got a parking spot though, proving that my system of leaving Denver around 5 a.m. has been working out perfectly. The hike started out by heading to Alberta Falls, one of the most popular waterfalls in the park. Since I was there so early, there were only a couple of other groups at the falls when I got there, and I briefly paused to take a couple of quick photos.
From Alberta Falls, the trail passed by several nice views of the Rockies and then headed up to The Loch, a pretty mountain lake. The trail around The Loch was full of mosquitos, but luckily I had remembered the bug spray this time.
The trail followed a stream from The Loch that led up to Timberline Falls. I could see Timberline Falls from the distance as I was hiking there and it was so beautiful that it honestly took me aback. I know that sounds cheesy and lame but it’s true. I don’t apologize for my love of mountains! I was in for a bit of a surprise on the way up to the falls though, as I had to climb up a slippery snow covered slope to reach them. I had checked the elevation of the Sky Pond hike before my departure and I had not been expecting very much snow since the hike never goes above 11,000 feet. Luckily Timberline Falls was even more impressive up close and it was totally worth bear crawling through the snow.
The trail up to Sky Pond from Timberline Falls literally went up a waterfall. Seriously. I climbed up a waterfall. By this time I had already accepted the fact that my hands and feet were going to be cold and wet, and I had an awesome time making my way up the waterfall.
At the top of the waterfall, I reached the Lake of Glass. I was the only person at the lake, and I felt like I was in Narnia or something. I mean I had just climbed up a waterfall only to arrive at a pristine mountain lake. It was magical! As you can probably tell, I have a very special place for mountain lakes in my heart.
It wasn’t really clear to me where the trail continued from the Lake of Glass to Sky Pond and I probably wandered around for 15 minutes before I figured out where it was. I followed the trail to Sky Pond, and then of course there was a huge snow field covering the end of the trail. I sort of just guessed and headed in the right general direction, and eventually I made it to Sky Pond. I found an awesome rock to sit on and I ate my peanut butter and honey sandwich and just enjoyed my surroundings. I was the only person at Sky Pond and it was so peaceful.
While I was at Sky Pond I tried to navigate around the pond and find a better view of the Cathedral Spires, but I gave up when I ended up stuck in a pine tree grove. I headed back towards the Lake of Glass, and somehow I ended up at the top of a huge boulder field. It took me about 30 minutes to get down and find the trail again, and I was especially trying to be careful since I was the only person up there at that point. I was also glad that I had told all of my friends when we were out the night before that I was planning on going on a hike. You never know. I am always an advocate of the scenic route, but this was definitely the extreme route. At least after my descent down the boulder field, climbing down the waterfall seemed easy! The rest of the hike down was fine, but the trails were crowded near Alberta Falls.
Overall, the hike was an awesome experience. It’s technically 9.8 miles total, but I think all my detours made my hike over ten miles easily. Sky Pond is currently my favorite hike, and I look forward to dragging my Colorado friends and Midwestern visitors there in the future!