Estes Cone

When a lowland Nebraska flatlander such as myself heads out to Colorado to do some hiking, it's important to acclimate to the higher elevations of the mountains before doing any strenuous hiking, or risk trouble with altitude sickness.  I chose Estes Cone as my acclimation hike.  I wasn't able to stay in Estes Park my first night as I had hoped because of the Scottish Highland Festival.  Instead I stayed at the lower Longmont, 2500 feet lower.  The result was a splitting headache the evening after the hike.   But after that first day, I seemed to be well acclimated, and the altitude didn't bother me at all.

Being somewhat late in the tourist season, I naively thought that the trail head would have sufficient parking.  Boy was I wrong.  I had to park way down the road.  There's no way I'm getting up early enough to beat the Longs Peak crowd to hike Estes Cone.  That lot was probably full three hours before sunrise.  Anyway, an extra quarter mile doesn't mean much. I hope you enjoy my photos.

Be sure to click on these thumbnail photos for larger versions.

1. This is Estes Cone, my destination, as seen from a meadow along the way.

2. Along the way, some great views of Longs Peak open up.

3. This bird followed me around for a while and posed nicely for this photo.

4. Believe it or not, this is part of the trail.  When the trails become non distinct as this one does here, you follow cairns; small piles of rocks deliberately placed.  If you look closely enough, you can see a couple in this photo.

5. At the summit, I kick back and just enjoy the view for a while.

6. A panoramic view.  Super Size It!  (195kB).

7. In this telephoto view of Longs Peak you can clearly see "The Beaver".

8. This is a telephoto view of the Longs Peak Keyhole from the Estes Cone summit.  There was some discussion recently on the Estes Email List about whether the Keyhole was at the bottom of the saddle.  This photo clearly shows that it is not.  It is a feature that you must hike through on your way to the summit of Longs Peak, and can be seen left of the saddle in this photo.