Grace Falls

I've been to the overlook near Lake Helene a couple different times and the view from there is just incredible.  I've seen Grace Falls flowing freely in the summer, and in the winter as a massive formation of ice.  Each time I looked toward Grace Falls and wished I were closer.  Today was my chance to get closer.

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

1. The hike starts at Bear Lake, and you never want to pass up an opportunity to photograph Bear Lake.  This is the familiar form of Hallett Peak over the Lake.

2. I took this shot of Thatchtop because I think you can see the 'S Gully' that is mentioned by some as a route down from Thatchtop.

3. Light filters through the trees onto the trail.

4. Lots of wildflowers could be found where there was abundant water.

5. Scarlet Paintbrush next to an old stump.

6. A different view of the same flowers.

7. More wildflowers

8. This panorama was taken from an overlook near Lake Helene.  This incredible view includes the peaks of Flattop, Notchtop, Knobtop and Little Matterhorn, and the Gable rising above Odessa Lake.  Super Size It!  (359kB).

If you look closely enough at this picture, you can see Grace Falls below Notchtop Mountain.

9. The Gable rising above Odessa Lake.

10. It was hard to tear myself away from that overlook, but I was headed to Grace Falls.  This is Lake Helene, just a short distance south of the overlook.

11. At this point I wasn't sure exactly what the best route to Grace Falls was, so I just followed an obvious trail that continued around the west side of the lake and up.  This shot is looking back at Lake Helene, Two Rivers Lake and Joe Mills Mountain.

12. As I continued up, I met a lady who was carrying skies.  I asked here where she was headed and she pointed out that people were up above on a large snow field climbing it to ski down.  That's where she was going.

13. I pulled out my long lens to get some pictures of the snowfield and sure enough, there was someone up there already!

14. This picture is just zoomed in a little tighter.

Now I decided that I was getting too high.  I may be able to get to the top of the falls this way, but I wanted to get to the bottom.  So I went back to Lake Helene to try a different possible route that I had seen earlier.

15. After rounding the northwest edge of Lake Helene, and almost immediately after the trail leaves the lake and starts to climb above the level of the lake, there is a faint trail that branches off to the right through a clearing looking directly at Notchtop.  The trail is a little faint in spots but not too hard to follow.  This is the best way to go.  After a short distance, Notchtop comes into clear view, towering above Grace Falls.

16. I didn't go all the way to the base of the falls but I could have I think.  That would have been too close for good pictures I think.  I stopped just short of a boulder field that lay between me, and the base of the falls.

17. Here is the full shot of Grace Falls.  The next three pictures are zoomed in on the upper, middle and lower parts of the falls.

18. Upper part.

19. Middle part.

20. Lower part.

21. On the way back down, I noticed that Alberta Falls and Glacier Creek were shining brightly in this view toward Longs Peak.