Sunday, July 19, 2015

Five lake loop and Lake Haiyaya Knobs

Occasionally I will check (truly a great reference) to make sure I have gotten to every named peak in a certain area, just to double check.  As I have said a few times in the past, while an incredible reference, Fosters book doesn't include every peak in the park.  There are several ranked but unofficially named peaks that didn't make the cut, and ranked but unnamed peaks were not included either.  
In this case, the 'knobs' around Lake Haiyaha were named in the book "Backcountry Skiing and Ski Mountaineering in Rocky Mountain National Park” by Mark Kelly, which came out in 2013, well after Fosters book was published, thus they are not in her book.
The Knobs near Lake Haiyaha.
Anyway, it was during one of my forays on LOJ that I noticed these high points pop up.  It would be a short day to get them, and certainly violate my unoffical "the total time of the drive each way must be shorter than the time of the activity rule".  When hiking, that is usually no concern!
So I decided to string together a series of lakes in a loop, and run it... well, as much as I could.  Thus I planned to start at Glacier Gorge, take the trail by Alberta Falls to Mills Lake, then hit the Loch, then Lake Haiyaya and the knobs, then Dream Lake, and finally Nymph Lake before taking the trail back down to Glacier Gorge.  Bear or Emerald Lakes could easily be added on for (slightly) more distance.
There were a few other cars in the parking lot when I arrived, but nothing like what was there when I got back.
Half Mountain from the trail.
Mills Lake was beautiful as always.  A quick moment here and I headed back down.
Longs Peak in clouds.  It was only hours before that Andrew Hamilton had finished off the 14ers here, and set a new record of 9 days, 21 hours, and 51 minutes to take almost a full day off the record that had been in place for 15 years!  Well done Andrew and my congrats!
I turned off to The Loch and started up.  Not too long after I was there.
I could see some people working their way around the lake en route to higher altitudes.
The trail from The Loch junction to Lake Haiyaha held some of the steepest terrain of the day, and I simply quickly hiked most of it.  This marks the first time I'd been on this trail in the summer.
Lake Haiyaha is pretty cool.  I think this would stand out in my mind as a nice family destination because it is just hard enough, has great views, and I can imagine kids having a ton of fun exploring the boulders in the area.
After the lake, I got back on the trail headed north and took off east shortly after to find Knob #4.  I didn't take a photo from it, but it was just a short walk over.
From that I headed down to Chaos Canyon Cascades, a series of falls that I had yet to visit. 
This was pretty cool.  Very peaceful to be so close to a very popular trail yet feel completely isolated.  Simply follow a thin trail down the south side of the creek when you cross the outlet.  It's maybe five minutes from the trail.
This small boulder marked the high point of Goblin Knob.  It's a short third class scramble to the top.
The view to points north. 
And a great view to Longs Peak, Thatchtop, and Knob #4 dead center.
Some clearing on Longs.
The Bulge is mere feet from the trail, but again I did not take a photo.  From there I headed uphill west over some rocky and bushwhacky terrain to arrive at Dream Knob.  Due to the off trail travel, this was definitely the most difficult of the high points to find. 
Dream Knob and twisted pines.
I went back down to the trail and then made a similar approach to Knob #1, again not pictured, and again just a short jaunt off the trail.
I got back on the trail and headed down.  It was a different experience.  I am usually used to seeing no one at all, but passed a ton of people as I headed down.  I arrived to a full parking lot about three hours after I'd left.
This was a fun shorter day.  Chaos Canyon Cascades is certainly worth the short side trip down from the trail, and is more impressive than some of the named waterfalls in the park.  Of the knobs, I'd suggest Goblin Knob and Knob #4 as being the best as both are relatively easy to get to, and both offer some pretty darn good views.
Five Lake Loop and the Knobs:
Mills Lake, 9940 feet: 2.7 miles one way, 760 foot gain.  Moderate.
The Loch, 10180 feet: 2.9 miles one way, 1000 foot gain.  Moderate.
Lake Haiyaha, 10220 feet: 3.3 miles one way, 1040 foot gain.  Moderate.*
Chaos Canyon Cascades, 9840 feet: 3ish miles one way, 660 foot gain.  Moderate.*
Knob #4, 10180 feet: 3ish miles one way, 1000 foot gain.  Moderate.*
Goblin Knob, 10220 feet: 3ish miles one way, 1040 foot gain.  Moderate.*
The Bulge, 10190 feet: 3.2ish miles one way, 1010 foot gain.  Moderate.*
Dream Knob, 10460 feet: 3.3ish miles one way, 1280 foot gain.  Moderate.*
Knob #1, 10260 feet: 3.3ish miles one way, 1080 foot gain.  Moderate.*
Dream Lake, 9900 feet: 1.1 miles one way, 450 foot gain.  Easy+.
Nymph Lake, 9700 feet: .6 miles one way, 250 foot gain.  Easy.
* = From Glacier Gorge TH, subtract about a mile if starting from Bear Lake TH.
As a whole, this hike covered approximately 8 miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain.  Moderate.

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