Mummy Mountain (13,425ft), 3/15/1995
By Mike Dallin
Ah, Spring Break, a wonderful chance to hit the mountains. A few days before this hike I decided (just for fun) to hike up Lawn Lake trail, just to see how high I could get before the snow became too deep to cross without snowshoes or skis (see my Lawn Lake Trail trip report for the details). As it turned out, I almost made it all the way to Lawn Lake, but it wasn't the snow that turned me around: it was the fact that I was running a bit low on food. I decided that if the weather held, I would return later in the week and perhaps climb up Mummy Mountain.
Winter was pretty dry, and that week was no exception. I couldn't have picked a better day. The sun shone all day, and I found myself shedding layers of winter clothing until I was practically down to my undershirt. However, it was *bright* outside. A tad too bright, actually, considering my face got slightly sunburnt (everyone thought I went skiing over the break... little do they know!). But, here's the clincher: I didn't see a single person the entire day. I was the first one in the trailhead parking lot, and the last one to leave it.
During the drive up I had to wait for a deer herd to cross the road. An elk heard was grazing just yards away from Lawn Lake trailhead. While descending I passed by a herd of grazing mountain goats. I didn't see another person. Who says that you can't find solitude in RMNP?
Hiking up was still slippery due to snow, but I was able to follow the footprints that I myself had made some 4 days earlier. Obviously no new snow had fallen since my first trip. I did follow somebody's snowshoe tracks, however. After a bit I finally made it to the point where I turned back. The snow was still pretty deep, and after continueing on about 100 yards or so, I made the realization that I was off trail. I meant to go down the Black Canyon trail, since it offers easier access to Mummy's southern (easier) slopes than by climbing straight from Lawn Lake trail, but I couldn't find the trail under the 2 feet or so of snow. I then found the easiest looking gully on Mummy leading to the southern slopes, climbed to the base of it, ate a bit, and headed up.
The gully had no snow in it. In fact, all the way to the summit I maybe walked 30 yards in snow, most of it around 3 inches deep. That's how clear it was. The gully wasn't easy to climb up, though, and I found myself taking frequent breaks. I soon topped the ridge and made my way onto the southern slopes.
While gentle, the slopes did knock the wind out of me pretty good. As I climbed I was wishing more and more that the visible summit (which I knew to be a false summit) was the end of my hike. Alas, it wasn't. I spent a lot of time climbing that slope, but I eventually made it to the false summit area.
The hike got a bit easier from here. Of course, there was another false summit ahead. In fact, the hike seems to drag at this point because just when you think you are done, you see that you have another quarter mile or so to go. I took frequent breaks and pressed on.
After the second false summit, I hit some snow. I saw one other set of tracks, though they looked to be maybe two days old. Finally my quest was at an end, as I reached the summit of Mummy.
The register was empty except for some scraps of paper, most of them signed around November of 1995 (5 months earlier). I added my own signature, not forgetting to mention my climbing partner (who couldn't make it) and a friend of mine who recently got a really good job offer in Denver.
The view towards Estes Park and Longs Peak from Mummy were excellent! I was glad to take this picture of Longs, since I had taken the exact opposite picture (the Mummies from Boulderfield) in the summer of 1994. Actually, I took all sorts of pictures from Mummy: one looking north from the summit, one looking south towards the continental divide (and towards Roaring River, which is the drainage you see in the foreground. Lawn Lake trail follows this river), one southeast to show the splendor of Mt Fairchild's southwestern slopes, one of Mt Fairchild and Crystal Lake (note Mt Ypsilon left of Fairchild, my favorite mountain in the world), and even a picture of myself on the summit, courtesy of my camera's timer feature.
After a bit to eat, and maybe 1/2 hour on the summit I headed down the way I came. On the way back I passed by a herd of mountain goats, and stopped to watch (from a distance). I then reached the base of the southern slopes, and tried to find the gully I came up -- without luck. I dropped down too soon, and hit some *deep* snow just below treeline. I quickly turned back up the slopes, and found the gully.
I could see my tracks on Lawn Lake trail well above the trail, so finding a route was not a problem. I soon reached the trail and headed down, reaching the trailhead around 6pm -- just before darkness fell.
The trailhead was just as lonely as when I arrived, but I could tell that people had been through -- quite a lot, actually. I guessed that they had some sort of nature tour through earlier in the day, but it seemed strange to have one on a Wednesday in the middle of winter. Ah, well, that's the park system for you.
The funny thing is that after my climb, maybe two or three days after, winter decided to hit. Of course, in Loveland all we had was rain, but the mountains -- that's a different story. We had precipitation all through April, and just today (5/4/95) I was finally able to see the Mummies from my house -- and they are *blanketed* in snow. It looks like I picked the perfect time to climb, and with summer approaching I hope to return.