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Gem Lake Trail

June 16, 2001

Gem Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park - Near Estes Park, CO
June 16, 2001

View Log - Log of all contacts made

My wife Terry wanted to go to the Estes Park wool festival (big gathering of weavers, spinners and raisers of fibre animals).  I hadn't been on a hike/qrp operation yet this spring so I volunteered to drive the two and a half hours with her and hike in Rocky Mountain Natl Park while she atttended the wool festival.  Since she would be at the festival for about 5 hours I figured I'd better find a trail close to town. I searched through my hiking guide and the closest hike I found to Estes Park was the Gem Lake Trail about a mile north of Estes Park.

The drive to Estes Park took a little longer then I expected.  I dropped Terry off at the festival shortly before noon and headed to the trail head.   I started the hike just shortly after noon.  The hiking guide said I should be able to make Gem Lake in 1 1/2 hours.  If I was to retain any of my pride I'd have to make it in that time or better so I hustled up the trail pretty quickly.  I managed to reach gem lake by about 1 oclock... still had my pride.  Gem Lake is a pretty little lake (pond is probably a better description) probably 100 feet wide by 150 feet long at an elevation of 9034 feet.  When I arrived at the lake I sat on the edge for a few minutes soaking in the scenery.  After a bit I opened up a bag of trail mix.  As soon as the top was off the bag the chipmunks started to arrive (obviously lurking until they saw a reason to disturb me!).  At first I thought they were cute and of course began sharing the peanuts and raisens.  Pretty shortly I felt like I was in the chipmunk version of the Hitchcock movie 'The Birds'.  Dang things were all around and I felt like if I didn't keep moving they'd be crawling up my legs and nibbling on who knows what!!! This was no time for taking a nap at the side of the pool!  I picked up a stick and tried to shoo the little buggers away.  There were a few others (5 or 6 people) around the lake so I had to maintain a certan decorum during this operation.  Soon, I realized that decorum would not deter the beasts.  Not wanting to attract the ire of my fellow hikers with drastic swinging motions I decided a retreat was in order.  Shouldering my pack and picking up my things I beat a hasty retreat down the mountain.

Now was time for the qrp part of the hike.  I found a rock outcropping that had a very nice view of Estes Park and the mountains across the valley and stopped.  I set up my 'mountain topper' vertical.  This is a portable vertical I built designed especially for these short hikes, especially above treeline (there's a better description of it  here).  The rig was a K2 with a bulldog paddle and a 7ah gel cell for power.   I started operating at 2:15 MST and made 3 qsos.... success!!  I was visited by a family that showed some interest in the hobby.  Soon the wind kicked up and I saw clouds rolling in.  It was a few minutes earlier then I would have liked to wrap it up but I decided it wise to finish up.  I packed up the gear and headed down the trail, arriving back at the trail head by about 3:30.   Another successful TrailXpedition.