In July 2021, my friend Andy and I woke early and began the hike up Glacier Gorge Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. Our ultimate goal for this 12.4 mile hike was to reach the 13,500 ft. summit of Pagoda Mountain that connects to Longs Peak via the Keyboard of the Winds.
Hiking so early in the morning has lots of benefits, not least avoiding the afternoon thunderstorms of the Colorado Rockies. Morning hiking is filled as well with natural beauty not present later in the day. After sunrise, we saw a couple of momma elk taking their babies from Black Lake, up the trail, and into the wide open alpine meadow above tree line, at the base of Pagoda and Longs Peak.
We made it approximately two-thirds up Pagoda Mountain from its base, bailing at 12,419 ft after more than an hour of very slow going up very loose talus on the couloir, not wanting to slide down the mountain, with an approaching thunderstorm rumbling in the distance.
It was a disappointment to not make the summit for sure, but the hike was spectacularly beautiful and the overall attempt was one hell of an adventure!