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Ypsilon Lake / Lawn Lake


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#1 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:42 PM

For years I had been curious about Lawn Lake. When its earthen dam gave way in the early 1980's, the wall of water ripped a deep scar in the land, did millions of dollars in property damage, and even claimed several lives. The "alluvial fan" it created in the north part of RMNP is fascinating. But I'd never made the climb to the lake itself.

On Tuesday September 9, 2002, we arrived at the Lawn Lake trailhead shortly after daybreak on an overcast day. Intermittent sprinkles had us taking off and putting back on rain gear as we huffed and puffed our way up the trail. The aspens were starting to turn but my eyes were drawn more often to the damage done by the flood. All the peaks in the area were engulfed in clouds.

We took the Ypsilon trail turn off and arrived at Upper Chipmunk campsite after 4.2 miles. After we set up camp, Larry and I explored the area around Ypsilon Lake and found a beautiful waterfall.

We woke up Wednesday to partly cloudy skies with hopes of finding Spectacle Lakes. There are no maintained trails and the climbing is very steep in places. At one point, we had to climb over a large boulder. A friend who had been there emailed me ahead of time and said, "It really is like a step but once you get your foot on it, you can't really see your foot anymore and you are committing to standing and finding something for your hands that you also can't see (but is there!) Kinda like faith..." That's what I'd call it too. Once past the rock, we made our way up into the Ypsilon cirque and the place is simply incredible. It was still early morning and Larry suggested that we blaze a trail to another nearby lake but after an hour or so we were turned back by light rain.

The next day we packed up our gear and hiked 8 miles to Lawn Lake including a long descent from the Ypsilon Lake area followed by a longer lung busting climb to our campsite. One of my major goals was to summit Mt. Fairchild via The Saddle which rises above Lawn Lake. We got up early the next morning but as we approached the Saddle, a snow storm blew in with biting cold winds that hit us right in the face. Although we made it to The Saddle, we thought a summit attempt was a bad idea because visibility was terrible. However, by the time we descended to Crystal Lake, blue sky was peeking through the clouds.

In the Crystal Lake area, we ran into a herd of sheep/goats and got some great pictures: definitely one of the highlights of our trip. There was a lot of wildlife in this area and the views back toward Lawn Lake were terrific.

The next day we made our way to Golden Banner campsite so we could get up early on Sunday and hike to the trailhead and drive home. What a great week!


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#2 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:44 PM

Falls near Ypsilon Lake


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#3 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:46 PM

Lake Ypsilon


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#4 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:47 PM

Crux of hike to Spectacle Lakes



Spectacle Lakes



View south from Spectacle Lakes


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#5 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:49 PM

Snowstorm at The Saddle


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#6 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:52 PM

Mt Fairchild


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#7 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:53 PM

Crystal Lake




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#8 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 04:55 PM

Goats near Crystal Lake


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#9 TempestT-37

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 05:23 PM

You have been busy. Thanks for your report, I enjoyed reading it.
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#10 Aaron

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 05:55 PM

Yes, thanks John for putting these trip reports together!

--Aaron jockey.gif
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#11 Veik

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 08:09 PM

Loving all the reports and pictures John! Was that waterfall near Ypsilon Lake above the lake on the way to Spectacle Lakes?
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#12 mwilson

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 09:03 PM

I enjoyed the report and the pictures. We enjoyed our lunch beside the falls above Ypsilon Lake on a hike last summer!

Marsha
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#13 John

 
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Posted 23 January 2005 - 10:36 PM

QUOTE (tlveik @ Jan 23 2005, 08:09 PM)
Loving all the reports and pictures John!  Was that waterfall near Ypsilon Lake above the lake on the way to Spectacle Lakes?


Yes, but it's very close to Ypsilon. To get to Spectacle, you more or less follow the water uphill. We were there in a very dry year, which made the climb much easier.
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#14 SandyP

 
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Posted 17 June 2008 - 08:38 PM

John, thank you so much for all the pictures. They are beautiful, and very enticing to want to see it for myself. There's a barren ruggedness to Crystal Lake and Spectacle Lake that makes it so stunningly beautiful. I don't recall seeing any close-up pictures like this before, but maybe its because this is the first time we've been actually interested in trying to do that one.

Awesome visuals :) THANK YOU!
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#15 mwilson

 
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Posted 17 June 2008 - 09:42 PM

Ken and our brother-in-law went up above the falls to try to find Spectacle Lake, but didn't get it done. Ken's sister and I were waiting for them to come back and they were gone quite awhile. We were kind of mad and still claim that we haven't let it go.

Marsha
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