Mountain Monday- Flat Top Mountain & Hooper Lake

Happy Monday! Yesterday it was just Stella and I (Alex was working at an outdoor show in Telluride since Thursday) and we had a craving to drive up to the mountains to go for a hike and check out all the Fall colors, so we headed up to the Flat Tops Wilderness (about 30 minutes away). It's gotten SUPER chilly over the past few days and dips into the low 30's at night. We also got our first snowfall in the higher elevations (above 10,000') on Friday and Saturday! This hike did bring us up above 10,000' and we did get to see some snow! Stella was really excited and loves snow. I don't think she'd do too well if we moved to the beach....oh well. I guess we'll save that for another life!


This hike brings you to either up to the top of Flat Top Mountain or to Hooper/ Kenner Lakes and over the saddle of Flat Top Mountain. Our goal was to get to the lakes, but we only made it to the first one (Hooper) before deciding that it was getting a bit late and the clouds were not looking too happy (so we turned around after that). You gain over 1,500' of elevation over the 2.5 miles to the lake and it was definitely tough! We met a few hikers along the way, including two gentlemen who said they lost their dog up there last weekend and said that he is wearing a collar if we find him. It always makes me really sad when I hear of someone loosing an animal (especially in the wilderness) because I could never imagine how terrible that must be! We never saw his dog, but I kept thinking of him the entire hike (and also kept Stella on a leash because well... just in case).


We came across a few ponds on our hike (which Stella loves to wade in) and finally made it up to the saddle and the views were incredible. It really is so beautiful out there and we came across many snow spots! There was even a snow ridgeline on the top of one of the mountains that I think is still from last winter (it must never melt). We also came across two backpackers who said that they got caught in a pretty bad snowstorm Friday evening and even had some snow showers this morning! 


After we took in the views (around 2 miles in), we headed down the ridgeline (on the other side) in search of the lakes. Unfortunately, there was a sign missing so the trails to get to the two lakes wasn't well marked (another reason why we decided to turn back after finding the first lake). I think that it's much more common to come across trails that are more remote here in the rockies as opposed to hiking trails back in the White Mountains of NH (they're very well marked/traveled). 


We left the lake and stopped at the top of the ridgeline to eat lunch and rest for a bit (around 4 miles in). It began to SNOW, so that was our cue to head down from the higher elevation. When we started to hike back down from the saddle, the trail began to get covered with snow and we couldn't see the footprints well enough to follow the trail and ended up bushwacking a small section! It was really scary and I honestly could see how some hikers can get lost when snowstorms come along on remote trails. Luckily, we saw the trail down below and just took a diagonal path (and honestly maybe a shortcut) to get back on it! Phew! That was pretty intense and shortly thereafter the snow stopped and we hiked back down to the car. 


This hike was SO beautiful and it was just under 6 miles for us roundtrip (but we only went to the first lake and definitely took a shortcut on our way back down). I highly recommend doing this and bring some friends (and a map)! You generally have pretty poor service for most of the hike (until you get to the saddle), so keep that in mind and have a plan b if you do get lost or stuck in a snowstorm. Hopefully the weather will get warmer because I'm not ready to go straight from summer to winter just yet!


Did you do any adventures this weekend?

Any fun runs or races that you did?!

Last hiking trip- good or bad experience? Have you ever gotten lost?