Kelly and I went out for a birthday sojourn in RMNP and found some really exotic snow conditions. I really can’t describe it any better than I’ve done in the title. This weird substance didn’t dominate the slopes but it certainly injected itself here and there just to add some spice to our Flattop descent. We departed from Bear Lake at the lazy our hour of 11 AM and headed up the trail per usual, but rather than following the normal approach that leads directly to the bottom of the banana bowls, we decided to follow the Flattop Trail. It’s summed up best as the scenic route: it is not the direct route by any stretch, but the views on a clear day are second to none. In fact the approach, despite being the inefficient route, was the highlight of the day.
As shown in the map, the ascent hugs the southern ridge of Flattop. Each subsequent switchback provides a new and spectacular view across the valley toward Dream and Emerald Lakes, and Hallet, Otis, Thatchtop and finally Long’s Peak. The clear skies and low winds left us with some of the best viewing conditions we’ve ever had in RMNP, but the relative exposure probably means that for most trips up this trail you wouldn’t want to linger for long: there’s almost no shelter from the prevailing wind.