Snowdrift Peak – Rocky Mountain National Park

Peak: Snowdrift Peak (12,274′) – Rocky Mountain National Park
Date: November 11, 2017
Trailhead: Green Mountain (8,800′)
Approach: Northeast Ridge
Distance: 22.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft.
Wolf, but probably a giant coyote sightings?: 1
Human sightings: 0
Participants: solo
Time: 12 hours

Route Overview (click to enlarge).

Snowdrift Peak in RMNP has been on my radar ever since a failed attempt in 2013. That outing was a classic example of how to unintentionally haze your friends when they travel out to Colorado. My buddy Brad, having just landed in CO from DC, found himself at the North Inlet TH at the crack of dawn on a bitter cold September morning ready to take on something called Snowdrift Peak with me. The first snow of the season came early and unexpectedly the night before. One of us may have been wearing trail runners. 8 miles in we were sitting at Ptarmigan Lake wondering why the lake was in the wrong spot. Later we would contemplate that maybe there weren’t actual trails in Rocky Mountain National Park.

September 28, 2013 – Brad and I are still friends… I think. He has not been back to CO.

November 11, 2017 – Round 2 – Snowdrift Peak via Green Mountain TH.

The rematch.

Below treeline the mile markers go something like this: Green Mountain TH (0), Big Meadows and junction with Tonahutu Trail (1.8), Granite Falls (5.1), “Mountains Don’t Care” sign (7.5), and treeline just a little further.

Morning snowy mist over Big Meadows. This place looked incredible (click to enlarge).
More Big Meadows.
Taken in the burn area just past Granite Falls. The trail is the slight indentation visible on the left. Snowshoes went on near the falls.
It was here I googled, “When do bears hibernate in Colorado?” and started talking to myself.
“Mountains Don’t Care” plaque. The plaque is on the trail.

Now the slog gets good. I wasn’t exactly out of the trees yet, but I had a much better sense of my surroundings and made my way up to Bighorn Flats.

Snowdrift Peak (left of the notch) shows it’s head… finally!
Don’t try this in a few weeks.

Once on the Bighorn plateau, I was beat up and cold, but I could see the remainder of the route.  A mad dash across the tundra and a few ups and downs along the northeast ridge and I would be there. The daylight clock was ticking.

Getting closer.
Did I mention it was windy?
Never EVER gets old.
The namesake snowdrift. Looks like a black and white pic, but it isn’t.
Summit of Snowdrift Peak (12,274′) – Rocky Mountain National Park – November 11, 2017 – 3 PM

Let’s go home.

On the descent this guy was sunbathing on Bighorn Flats. He couldn’t hear me because the wind was kicking so hard. I really wanted it to be a wolf, but I think it’s a mutant coyote?
The sun came out for the stroll back to treeline. There’s really something to be said of a sunset above treeline in Rocky.

Not pictured. The 7 miles in total darkness.

8 PM. Beer me. RMNP by day, a college football nightcap, a steak wrap w/ onion rings, and a Rifle Sight Rye. Saturdays don’t get much better.
Sunday’s gonna be a couch day.

Thanks for reading all. Hope everyone is doing well and getting after it. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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