Spring at Chaos Canyon

Spring at Chaos Canyon

Photographer: Jason Hill

With snowfall totals being above average for the winter, four feet of the stuff still covers the ground in mid May in the vicinity of Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. We arrived at the parking area and were on the trail around 5:00 in the morning, with our goal being to capture sunrise at Dream Lake. The trails are in their usual daily freeze/thaw spring cycle, hardening every night and then becoming slush every day. Snowshoes and/or traction are definitely a must and we were glad that we had ours.

Sunrise at Dream Lake was OK, but the sun was mostly hidden behind some clouds. The optimal combination of light and color never hit Hallett Peak and we decided to move on. The trail to Dream Lake from Bear Lake was well-traveled and easy to follow in the dark. The trail from Dream Lake to Lake Haiyaha was a completely different story, and the first section south of Dream Lake was hard to follow.

Once one eventually rounds the ridge leaving Dream Lake (hiking east and then south), this view over Chaos Canyon is found. The higher peak with the square summit left of center is Longs Peak. At 14,259ft (4,346m), Longs is the highest point in the park.