Lake Haiyaha
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, northern Colorado
Map: 1:24K USGS quad: McHenry Peak
Access: From Interstate 25, take Highway 34 through Loveland and Estes Park to the Beaver Meadows entrance. Just beyond the entrance gate, turn south on Bear Lake Rd and drive 9 miles to the terminal parking lot, or in summer, take a shuttle from the shuttle lot 5 miles up Bear Lake Rd. 
Fees (2008): $20 7-day park pass; $35 annual park pass; $80 annual Federal public lands pass
Dogs: No dogs allowed
Fees: $20 daily vehicle pass or $35 annual vehicle pass
Webcam: 8 miles northeast in Estes Park
Weather: Current conditions       Local Forecast

October 5, 2008

 All the preceding day and night it rained lightly, so it is with surprise that we open the curtain of our Estes Park condo rental on Sunday morning to see fresh, white sunlight streaming in. We shower, eat bagels for breakfast, toss our overnight bags in the car, and are checked out of our room by 9:30, driving up Fall River Road into the park to find something to hike. This weekend is Elkfest, which I thought nothing of initially, but it means that 10,000 additional people have flooded into Estes Park to see the fall elk rut. As we drive into the park, people are already set up with folding chairs along the roadside that countours around Horseshoe Park, waiting for the elk to make their appearance, even though they may have to wait 5 or 6 hours. 
 We make our way though heavy traffic towards Bear Lake, and as we head up to that part of the park, traffic thins to almost nothing. Many more people are here to see elk than trail. Still, there are perhaps a hundred cars at Bear Lake, and many people milling about. A tour bus is parked nearby. We pack up a few essentials and head up the trail. First we head towards Flat Top Mountain a ways to an aspen grove above Bear Lake that provides a wonderful fall picture. However, we missed it this year, and we arrive to a completely barren and dormant aspen stand. We head back down to the trailhead, and begin to take the trail to Dream Lake. There is an older man standing with a park service volunteer cap on, and Andra stops to ask him how to pronounce Lake Haiyaha. He replies it is an Arapahoe word meaning, “White man will never be able to pronounce this”, which is almost certainly true, and then laughs and tells us how to come close (sounds like Hi-ya-ha). We talk for awhile, and Doc engages us in conversation, admonishing us to be careful on the rocks around Lake Haiyaha. 

 We head up the trail, which is actually paved, sort of, with black asphalt that is warping and breaking off in chunks. Spruce and fir line the wide trail, and sunlight streams in through the conifers to lay dappled patterns on the forest floor. Whortleberry is everywhere, caught at various stages of its seasonal turn from green to red to orange to yellow. We pass several hikers on the trail. It is cool, but not unpleasantly so, perhaps 55 degrees. With the sun out, it feels pretty nice. We arrive at Nymph Lake, which is  shallow pond covered with lily pads, and I take a few snapshots before we move on, heading uphill towards Dream Lake. The trail winds through aspen and lodgepole pine, many of which are bright red and dying from mountain pine beetle.  Andra and I hiked this route before to Dream Lake, but in March through thick, packed snow. It looks a lot different now. 
 Just before we get to Dream Lake, the route branches and we peel off to the left towards Lake Haiyaha. This diverts us from 90% of the hikers, and we are suddenly alone, heading uphill along a shaded and cold trail. The wind is strong and I get pretty cold here, so I stop to put on my jacket. The trail leads us back into sunlight before long, and we get nice views of the terrain to the east and south, including Bierstadt Lake, Glacier Gorge and Longs Peak, draped in clouds. 
 Half an hour later, we arrive at Lake Haiyaha, which is a very high lake with a rough shoreline of broken rocks that precludes easy travel around it. We work our way back towards the outlet some 30 meters away, and feel it is enough just to make it to that point. The wind is very strong and cold at the lake, churning up the clear water into foam and whitecaps. Clouds obscure the ridgeline above, a spot I stood at 2 years ago looking down Chaos Canyon to Lake Haiyaha. Little flakes of snow swirl in from those clouds, though it is still sunny where we are at. Nevertheless, it doesn’t look like a place to dally too long, so we head back down the trail. 

 While rock hopping around the lake, I’ve apparently reinjured my foot that has been hurting all week, and the walk downhill is slower than usual. We stop frequently to admire the cloud-crowned summit of Longs Peak, and the yellowing aspen along the trail, farther behind the grove we visited near Bear Lake in leaf-drop. 

 At Dream Lake, we stop and admire the coming snow squall spilling over the divide and into the canyon, heading right for us. We move on, staying just ahead of it. At the parking lot, we see Doc again, and we talk about the hike, and he gives us a few good suggestions for hikes on the west side which I will need to try next year. We drive east, staying ahead of the snow but not the rain as it pelts us all the way down the canyon to Loveland. 

Longs Peak
Fall color on the Lake Haiyaha Trail
Wonderful aspen color on the trail to Lake Haiyaha
Aspen wonderland
Fall aspen color
Mountainside of aspen in different shades of yellow
Senescing leaves in fall

Hallet Peak and Flattop Mt, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Bear Lake and Hallet Peak, Rocky Mt National Park, Colorado
Nymph Lake and Hallet Peak
Looking east from the Haiyaha Lake Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Lake Haiyaha and Chaos Canyon, Colorado
Lake Haiyaha
Andra and Sam at Lake Haiyaha
Trail to Lake Haiyaha
Trail to Lake Haiyaha
Hallet Peak
Hallet Peak
Hallet Peak and Tyndall Gorge



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