Colorado Vacation, Part 4: Sky Pond

This is a multi-part trip report, if you haven’t already you should start with Part 1. Remember too that you can click on any of the photos to see larger versions of them.

After throwing our backpacks into the Subaru and repacking light daypacks, we’re off on the shuttle again for the Glacier Gorge trailhead and the walk to Sky Pond. We think it should be about three miles, according to our National Geographic Map (which we’re learning not to trust). The trailhead signage indicates that it’s closer to five miles. We’re starting about noon and have to be back by seven for the last shuttle, so time’s on our mind as we start out. If it really is a ten mile round trip, with this much elevation change we’ll really have to hustle.

Moving along

We pass the Loch, where we pump water and squint at Timberline Falls in the distance. We watch a foreign tourist clown around on a rock in the middle, and Mandy has a long portrait session with a chipmunk before getting fussed at when he climbs on her camera bag and she calmly picks him up and sets him on the ground.

Another tourist goofing off


Around here the crowd thins quite a bit. The trails are so good, throughout the park, even the farther-out trails that get less traffic. They’re well engineered and well maintained. In places we pass little flags with notes for maintenance crews to smooth the surface or install lines of rocks to divert the water and keep it from washing out the trail.

Aly and Mandy

Mandy’s first snowpack’s here, and the beauty of the falls is completely lost on her as she happily writes her name in the crusty white wall before stabbing at it with her hiking poles until we make her stop.

Timberline Falls

Behind the scenes

Snowpack graffiti

We scramble up the edge of the falls and don’t even stop at beautiful Glass Lake. We get to Sky Pond at about 4:30 and waste no time removing socks and shoes to dip our toes in the frigid water just below the snow. We laugh as we see the oily yuck from our dirty feet float to the surface of the water.

Climbing TImberline Falls

Bryan soaks his feet at Sky Pond

We have the lake almost to ourselves, and we take a few minutes to admire the Petit Grepon and the Sharks Tooth. Yes, Mandy says, it was worth the hike up. Yes, she says, this is much, much better than Disneyworld. In Disneyworld there’s no treeline, and there’s no lake that makes your whole foot numb if you put it in for three minutes.

View from Timberline Falls

We leave Sky Pond a few minutes before five and make it to the trailhead right at seven; we’ve hiked five miles in just over two hours, and we’re beat. We catch the next-to-last bus back to the Park and Ride and set up camp back at Moraine Park before a trip to the Rock Inn Mountain Tavern (see video below for a quick look around this great restaurant) for good sweet potato fries and cheeseburgers made with local beef on organic buns. The bathrooms have warm water, and there’s ice in the glasses, and tonight we don’t take those things for granted. The Rock Inn’s playing bluegrass music at the edge of hearing, and it’s wooden and dark.

After a thirteen mile day, Mandy’s one tired little girl and we can’t pretend to be in much better shape. It’s time for bed.

The story continues…
Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5