Twin Sisters

The first time I hiked Twin Sisters was roughly thirty years ago. Saturday I hiked it for the second time.

I barely remember the trail. Relentlessly uphill, but not very steep. No streams or lakes, so you have to carry all your water. Not a long hike, and not much higher than many lakes I’ve visited. The only real thing Twin Sisters has to offer is the view of Long’s. That’s about all I remember of it. Lately, I’ve been thinking it might be fun to make this hike and try a time lapse of the sunrise on Long’s. When I saw the hillside after the floods I wondered if it affected the trail. I really had no idea where the trail was. So before I could consider doing the hike in the dark, I’d better know where I’m going.

I wasn’t too worried about getting an early start. Even if the parking lot at the trailhead was full, I could park at the East Lily Lake lot and add an extra four tenths of a mile each way. When I got there at nine I wasn’t surprised to see people parking on the roadside, so I didn’t bother going any farther and parked as well. I walked past about a dozen cars to see that the road is closed at the hairpin. The road above here severely damaged, passable only by four wheel drive.

At the trailhead, a notice about the flood damage included a map. The lower section of the switchbacks had been erased. About a half hour into the hike I arrived at the slide area. It’s flood damage, but considerably different than the Lawn Lake flood.

Change is constant. Although we think of geologic change being slow, it’s made up of short bursts of transformation. In the last few years, I’ve been able to see the effects of these dramatic events. I was on the trail to Bluebird Lake a few weeks after an avalanche tore through a section of forest. I hiked through burned forest a few weeks after the fires. I hiked to Lawn Lake shortly after that flood. I hiked from Mills Lake to Black Lake on both winter and summer routes shortly after the microburst there. And now this one. Is it a flood or a landslide or a little bit of both? In any event, nature’s power revealed.

The trail crosses the slide only once. The trail rises to a switchback and when it reaches the slide area again, a temporary trail climbs more or less straight up the hillside to the next section of trail. Repeat two or three times. Looking on the bright side, there are now nice open views here.

After the switchbacks the trail circles around to the north slope, giving a nice view of Carriage Hills and Lake Estes. If I’d have brought my long lens, I’d have looked for the house on Ramshorn. My pace slowed considerably here. To this point I’d only been passed by two pairs of hikers while passing quite a few people. A couple I had passed earlier looked like they might catch back up, but they slowed down when we timberline.

Technically, I didn’t actually summit. I went to the right of the antenna and found a spot to set up the cameras, eat my lunch and relax. There were quite a few people here, and perhaps an equal number on the near summit. I saw only a few hikers on the other summit.

The day was beautiful. I had to put the windbreaker on while having lunch, it was pleasantly cool with gusting winds. There was no handy ballast to secure the tripod for the SLR, but the GoPro sat low enough to the rocks to not be too affected. I sat there for about an hour watching rain clouds scud in from the northwest. I packed up and left before they arrived and only got sprinkled on for the last few minutes of the hike.