Day 3
Haynach Camp over Bighorn Flats to July Camp

The third day was the big climb and the long hike.  We quickly came across a warning sign.  I certainly could see where this hike would be a problem in seriously bad weather.
As we climbed the trail became rougher and more continuous uphill.
The top always seemed near and in view, but we never seemed to get there.
Bob and Larry on the trail as we continue slogging uphill.
More of the same just climbing and climbing.
We finally seemed to make some progress on the hill as we started the climb more or less in the valley in the backgound.

We had an interesting encounter at a distance with a bear.  He was quite far off, this shot is with the zoom, but he clearly saw us and was continuing in our direction anyway. 

After we bunched up on the trail he turned and went the other way.

I assume this bear has learned that packs mean food but the five of us together might have seemed a bit much for him. 

I was relieve to see him start the other way.

We finally roll up onto a high plateau called the Bighorn Flats.  But, flat is a relative term.  It was still uphill just not as steep. 
A view looking back towards Grand Lake from Bighorn Flats. 

This view looks east toward Bear Lake from Ptarmigan Point. 

It's a great day hike to here from Bear Lake if you vist Rocky Mountain NP. 

The trail goes near Flattop Mountain and as it was only a short climb to the top we decided to drop the packs and carry lunch to the top.
Storms come up fast in this environment.  Just a few minutes later rain, hail, and maybe some sleet was coming down on us.

After lunch the trail continued across the flats.

The way down was this canyon off to the right.

It wasn't long before another storm hit us.  More hail.

A lightning strike nearby sent Mike and I into the rocks to sit it out.  The others were behind us at this point and continue hiking through the storm.

After the storm and emerging from the rocks, I look like a refugee from some really backward planet.

We realy got strung out on the trail here.  Bob and Mike A. stayed up on top awhile longer.  I just wanted to get down before the big one hit.  I will admit to being a bit of a nervous nelly in these situations. 

Mike R. and Larry are above me on the trail.

I waited for Mike to catch up after I got safely down off the ridgeline.  Of course there was no big one, but who knew.
Looking down the North Inlet Canyon we could see the way back to Grand Lake.
We gave up all the 2,000' we climbed in the morning as we continue down off the ridge.

Finally we arrived at July Camp ahead in the trees. 

On this day we hiked with packs from 8 am to 4 pm, climbed 2,000' up and 2,000' down, and covered 10 miles, most of it above 12,000' 

What a day.

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