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Lake Helene and Notchtop Mountain

A 360-degree panorama with Flat Top Mountain at left, Notchtop Mountain [summit at 12129 ft/3697 m] at center, and Joe Mills Mountain at right.

Early morning light breaks over Bierstadt Lake.

Early morning light breaks over Bierstadt Lake.

A first glimpse of Notchtop Mountain from the trail as it crosses a talus slope at around 10,500 feet.

A first glimpse of Notchtop Mountain from the trail as it crosses a talus slope at around 10,500 feet.

Tree silhouetted against Notchtop Mountain.

Tree silhouetted against Notchtop Mountain.

Ice fall.

Ice fall.

Lots of lakes: Odessa Lake at left, Lake Helene in the foreground at right, and Two Rivers Lake in the background at right.  Joe Mills Mountain at center.

Lots of lakes: Odessa Lake at left, Lake Helene in the foreground at right, and Two Rivers Lake in the background at right.  Joe Mills Mountain at center.

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Bandits [in this case, Canada jay or gray jay, Perisoreus canadensis] are always ready to grab a treat - hang on to your snacks!

Coming back down the trail, a view southward towards Glacier Gorge, with the Glacier Knobs in the mid-ground and Long's Peak, Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda Mountain, and Chiefs Head Peak on the horizon.  The east end of Bear Lake is visible in the foreground at right.

Coming back down the trail, a view southward towards Glacier Gorge, with the Glacier Knobs in the mid-ground and Long's Peak, Keyboard of the Winds, Pagoda Mountain, and Chiefs Head Peak on the horizon.  The east end of Bear Lake is visible in the foreground at right.

Fern Lake and Odessa Lake

About 3.8 miles from the Fern Lake trailhead at the west end of Moraine Park, climbing from about 8000 feet to 9,500 feet to reach Fern Lake.  From there it is another mile or so, and another 500 feet of elevation gain, to reach Odessa Lake at just above 10,000 feet.

Fern Lake.  Odessa Lake lies just beneath Notchtop Mountain and the Little Matterhorn, both in the distance at right.

Fern Lake.  Odessa Lake lies just beneath Notchtop Mountain and the Little Matterhorn, both in the distance at right.

Morning sunlight on the canyon walls above the Fern Lake trail.

Morning sunlight on the canyon walls above the Fern Lake trail.

A tributary creek of the Big Thompson River.

A tributary creek of the Big Thompson River.

Fern Falls, elevation 8800 feet.

Fern Falls, elevation 8800 feet.

Great to see this bull moose on the east side of the park!

Great to see this bull moose on the east side of the park!

Notchtop Mountain and the Little Matterhorn reflected in Fern Lake.

Notchtop Mountain and the Little Matterhorn reflected in Fern Lake.

The approach to Odessa Lake along Fern Creek is spectacular - Notchtop Mountain [summit at about 12,160 feet] at center.

The approach to Odessa Lake along Fern Creek is spectacular - Notchtop Mountain [summit at about 12,160 feet] at center.

Odessa Lake, with Notchtop Mountain at center and the Little Matterhorn at right.

Odessa Lake, with Notchtop Mountain at center and the Little Matterhorn at right.

Some excellent trail engineering just below Odessa Lake.

Some excellent trail engineering just below Odessa Lake.

In the Autumn of 2012, the Fern Lake fire raced up both sides of the canyon carrying the upper reaches of the Big Thompson River, burning about 3,500 acres.  It was started by an illegal campfire on October 9th, and was not officially declared extinguished until the 24th of June 2013, eight and a half months later, when enough snow had melted off the mountain tops to allow confirmation that there were no smoldering remnants still active.  Almost two years later, large swaths of former pine forest remain barren.

In the Autumn of 2012, the Fern Lake fire raced up both sides of the canyon carrying the upper reaches of the Big Thompson River, burning about 3,500 acres.  It was started by an illegal campfire on October 9th, and was not officially declared extinguished until the 24th of June 2013, eight and a half months later, when enough snow had melted off the mountain tops to allow confirmation that there were no smoldering remnants still active.  Almost two years later, large swaths of former pine forest remain barren.

It ain't called "The Rockies" for nuthin'.

It ain't called "The Rockies" for nuthin'.