Hiking Sky Pond & Lake of Glass – The Glacier Gorge area of Rocky Mountain National Park is not only the most trafficked area of the park, but if I had to guess, it’s one of the more trafficked areas of the Colorado wilderness during the summer. (Without doing any research, I’m guessing it’s only second to the Maroon Bells…) During the busy summer months, if you haven’t snagged a parking spot at the trail heads by early morning, you’re most likely going to be heading in on a crammed shuttle bus and the extremely well defined trails up the gorges to Dream Lake or Alberta Falls are a seemingly endless train of hikers, to a frustrating degree.
But that’s also why I wasn’t too nervous as I hobbled in some serious pain past Lake of Glass as quickly as I could I could manage, watching the first sunlight hit the top of the Sharkstooth. Someone, or a great many people, should be coming my way soon… After starting out at 3:30 in the morning and hiking over four miles in the dark, I had been making the final scramble up Timberline Falls, just below the lake, when I somehow just slammed my left knee on a rock sending a stabbing pain through my entire leg. My knee immediately began to swell and puff up to the size of a baseball, but at least I was at least able to put some weight on it and continue to Sky Pond as the early morning light hit the Sharkstooth.
Hiking Sky Pond to shoot sunrise was one of my goals this summer and the gorge is even more impressive than I expected. Sitting at 10,900′, Sky Pond fills a cirque basin, surrounded by sheer cliff walls and the Sharkstooth, a series of dramatic granite spires towering overhead. It is definitely one of the more dramatic places I’ve ever seen, particularly in Colorado.
With the stinging pain, I was nervous about the hike back so unfortunately I didn’t linger at the lake too long – I wanted some pain meds and ice. I once really made fun of a buddy for hiking with trekking poles, but since then, I’ve gotten wiser and use them myself – without them, I don’t think I would have made it to the lake in time for first light, let alone back to my car without support.