Pfiffner Traverse Day 2: Knobtop Mt, Ptarmigan Pt, Flattop Mt, Hallet Peak, Otis Peak, Upper North Inlet (RMNP, Colorado)
Trip date: Aug 14-20, 2018
This day: Aug 15, 2018
Trail started to get crowded (ie: I saw 5 people that morning) so I left the trail and decided to pickoff the smaller peaks along the divide. Knobtop Mt. was first, then the flat area behind Notchtop Mt.
Flattop barely felt like a peak (I guess this is obvious). On to Hallet Peak.
The mini, double island in the middle of the lake (Loch Vale) far below me in this picture is special. I encountered this for the first time a couple winters ago on my first winter attempt to Sky Pond.
I crossed the frozen lake to the island in a near white out. I put on another layer to deal with the wind and checked my primary winter thermometer: are my boogers frozen? They were. This means it's about 15 degrees F or lower and I'd better have a good plan especially if the sun is going down. In many ways, I think that sitting there on that frozen rock was the start of making smarter plans (both pre-trip and on the fly) that allow for bolder adventures. I realized there was a real chance that I wouldn't make it to Sky Pond. This guess turned out to be right. I was determined and returned successfully several weeks later for my first snow-camping trip ever--and first backpacking trip in 15 years. It's fun to go back and read what I wrote then. I've learned so much since then (what the hell was that blue tarp doing there??).
9/8/2018 04:35:37 pm
For information about and photo of something interesting on Sprague Pass, see page 1376 of Vol. III of our book on Larimer County Graves.
9/13/2018 10:26:13 am
looked like a good adventure that lead to a real appreciation of how the mountains have informed you.
1/15/2020 10:03:23 pm
Nice trip report; thanks for writing this! It’s inspired me to plan a section hike for late this upcoming summer (or perhaps early Fall). One question: Can you give any tips on roughly where I should think about camping if I want to camp between Lake Nanita and the descent into East Inlet? Do you know if Lake Catherine has decent/adequate campsite availability? I really want to do a 4-day section hike from Milner Pass to Roaring Fork TH (late summer), and am thinking day 1 from Milner Pass to Renegade Campsite, day 2 to Lake Catherine (or somewhere in that region, hopefully not far off the main route), day 3 to Upper Lake, and day 4 to Roaring Fork TH (with a couple of easy peaks on the way out). Hiking from the designated campsites in North Inlet (Pine Marten, etc) all the way to Upper Lake (mostly off-trail) seems like too much in a day for me; hence I’m trying to figure out potential campsite areas a little further than those designated campsites (and one thing I still don’t know how to do is figure this out by looking at a topo). Thanks!
1/17/2020 09:57:04 am
1/18/2020 01:37:02 am
Wow, thanks for the detailed reply! Thanks for the tips about campsites. I've done some off-trail backpacking, but it's always been to areas that I've pre-read (in guide books or trip reports) to have good campsite potential. I've backpacked in RMNP before, but only at the designated sites.
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