DUANE'S MARCH

Hike on Mummy Pass, Rowe Mtn, Rowe Pk., Hague's Pk, Lawn Lake

By Ron Miller

8/10/91.

Background

Duane Wegher is one of my hiking buddies. He is one of that rare breed - a Colorado native. He grew up in Greeley and has looked at the skyline north of Longs Peak for many years. After several trips into the area of Mummy Pass, and a very successful trip up Comanche Peak and circling around the Cirque lakes, he decided that he wanted to walk the ridgeline that he'd seen since childhood. We plotted the route from Pingree Park (N. side of RMNP) to exit via Lawn Lake and planned to make this a one-way hike. Car shuttle required.

The logistics of this trip include a 1 hr (each way)trip to drop a car at the Lawn Lake trialhead, a parking permit, and then a 2 hr trip to the Pingree trailhead, doing the hike and then another car shuttle the following day to retrieve the car at Pingree. In other words, lots of overhead involved. If this weren't the goal of a lifetime, it would be an awful lot of trouble.

The route of the hike is also notable for a lack of good bailout choices. Once we started up Rowe Mtn, we would be exposed for quite awhile and it would be difficult to return to one of the cars without some major bushwhacking and serious exertion.

We watched the weather on the weekend of 8/3. It was bad. We didn't do it. But the next weekend looked better.

Friday

Car shuttle on Friday night went fine. Big family outing for Duane, his wife and his infant son Ben, and my wife Laurie. We left Duane's car at the Lawn Lake trailhead (with permit) and then went to McDonald's in Estes Park for dinner.

Saturday

0330 at Duane's house, I start the video tape of this march. It's really dark out.
0530
We set out from the trailhead in full dark. The sun rises while we're still in the woods. We continue and reach Mummy Pass around 0800. I take pictures of a few elk fairly far away. Duane changes into shorts and we choose our path up the side of Rowe.

There are still snowfields about but it's clear enough to hike up on grass. There are signs that elk have passed the night lying around here. We can even smell them. Weather is holding and things are looking pretty good. We continue upwards. Then, we come over a gentle shoulder and are now line of sight to an elk herd. A BIG HERD! We jump into some rocks and grab the cameras and take pictures as the herd startles at our sudden appearance and goes west. We are unexpectedly close and I even capture the sounds of the herd on the videotape (kazoo-like noises). They make for Flint Pass and eventually pass out of view. (I count at least 75 animals on the tape.)

We smile and then continue on.

We work our way upwards and then have an encounter with a bighorn with some kind of injury. He is limping. The beast appears to be in pretty good condition (nice and plump) but moves slowly and painfully. Gentle discussion with the creature did not yield permission to help him. He limped off, probably to become coyote chow sometime in the future.

We reached the top of Rowe Mtn and found ..... a flat, large area covered with flat rocks. We push south and eventually get to the place that must be the top of Rowe Pk. It overlooks Rowe Glacier. And what a glacier!

We feel like the first to see it. Magnificent cold blue crevasses in the snow that leads down to a meltwater lake. The west side of the snow is lying against some rock spires that seem like they could crack off and be gone in just a millenia or so. This is a secret glacier, it can't be seen from anywhere except the tops of the surrounding ridges and from the basin it is in.

We take note of some small clouds building to the west and then descend the 500' to the lake to pump water and get on our way to Hague's Pk.

We dawdle a bit and are dismayed to find that the clouds are now more frequent, flat bottomed, significantly darker and are moving east. As we climb to Hague's, the clouds seem to pass in waves. It takes about an hour to get to the top of Hague's. We are in the clear for the moment.

We gawk, take pictures, snarf some lunch and Duane makes a Coca-Cola commercial (Inadvertently it appears in the video. "Psssst. (popping open of can) Coke. It's the Real Thing" I capture the sound and the action as Duane opens The Pop of Death on the mountaintop. We call it 'high humor.')

Then the clouds get scary. There is some hail pattering on my hat and we bug out.

The original plan was to follow the ridge to Mummy and then descend off the Mummy to the Lawn Lake trail. Not today. We scurry to descend directly off of Hagues. The view is really neat. We can see Trail Ridge Road, Lawn Lake, the little lakes to the west and it feels like we're on top of the world. (but we need to get down)

It takes about an hour to descend to the trail. It starts corn-snowing about the time we hit the trail and we cover up in raingear and I put the videocamera away. We continue downhill and feel much safer once we are among the trees.

We mosey toward Lawn Lake as the sky clears for awhile. Upon reaching the mid-point along the lake, we flop onto the shore and rest. The view is great, the sky is clear, and it feels like I'd like to just go to sleep for awhile. 1500 We are both pretty wasted. We lounge around for awhile and then painfully get on our way. We encounter lots of people on the trail on the way down. We are also rained on twice as showers come and go.

We reach Duane's car at 1803. It has been a very fine, long day.

Sunday

Oh boy are we sore! We drive the 2 hrs to Pingree park and then have to get out of Duane's car and walk about 1/2 mile to my jeep where I'd parked it on a 4WD road. It is about noon and the clouds roaring over Rowe are serious. Sunday would have been a bad day to do Duane's March.

Retrospect-

Ron Miller

ron@fc.hp.com