Evenings on Mt Chapin and Ute Trail (July 21-22)

Last year, after climbing Chapin, Chiquita, and Ypsilon peaks (aka CCY), I really wanted to get Susan up there to see what she was missing. So on Sunday, we decided to hike up at least as far as Chapin and enjoy the moonrise and sunset from the trail. We had a really beautiful evening up there!

Looking north to the Chapin Creek area

An elk grazes on the tundra nearby

Looking southeast from near the summit of Chapin; Longs Peak on horizon at center right

A cooperative Yellow-bellied Marmot posed for us near the summit

Tundra wildflowers on the rocky slopes of Chapin

A pika near the trail on the way down

We had beautiful color at sunset

The next evening we decided to go out again at one of my other favorite spots, the Ute Trail and Tombstone Ridge, just off Trail Ridge Road in Rocky. As we hiked up to Tombstone Ridge we saw another person coming out and as we got closer, we realized it was our friend Lyn. We seem to run into her everywhere! She told us to watch for a herd of elk farther up the trail.

Rocks on Tombstone Ridge frame Longs Peak in the distance

We spent quite a bit of time scrambling around on the rocks, using them to frame Longs Peak. The light on the rocks was exquisite.

After the sun had set we started looking for the full moon, which was rising in the east about the same time as the sun was setting.

We hiked around a bit more, and began to see that the herd of elk that Lyn mentioned was up on a nearby ridge. Susan suggested we maneuver ourselves to catch the moon behind them. I wasn't enthusiastic at first, as we weren't that close to them and we would have to hike even farther in, plus it would be dark soon and we still had to hike out. Soon she had me convinced and we began working our way over to get them between us and the moon. I didn't expose the details of the moon very well, but I like the rim lighting on the elk a lot! I'm so glad I listened to my wife! :-)

Surprisingly, the elk herd began to move toward us and it was getting pretty dark and hard to keep track of them. We kept retreating back down the trail, but they seemed to keep moving toward us and we were sure they knew we were there.

Rising moon with elk herd moving on the trail and Longs Peak in the background

Susan kept suggesting all kinds of interesting and fun shots, so we hung around a bit more before deciding to head back down the trail to the car.

Our moon-shadows on the trail :-)

Forest Canyon by moonlight with car headlight on Trail Ridge Road

Two cars make their way down Trail Ridge Road

Even though it was pushing 10pm and the sun was long gone, the moon was so bright we didn't really need our headlamps. It was a really fun evening at a really fun place!

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