I've been coming to the YMCA of the Rockies and RMNP since I was 30. I'm now 70+. For some reason I'd never made it to Sky Pond. I got to Timberline Falls once when I was 60 but I'd hiked with just one person I met on the trail and didn't feel safe doing the "stairs" to Lake of Glass and Sky Pond. This time I was determined to get there so, with my daughter and son-in-law and a great niece I signed up for a YMCA guided trip. I'd avoided them in the past because I thought I enjoyed the solitude, but the encouragement I got from the hike master and my fellow hikers (14 in all) was wonderful. Even the younger set agreed. Solitude is overrated!
Even for younger folks, I'd strongly suggest not trying this hike alone. We took a couple of "shortcuts" on horse and fire trails to shave a little bit off the distance. More important was the fact that someone was ahead of and behind me on the climb up the stairs to point out handholds and suggest foot placement. It gave me the confidence I needed to finish what I'd started, and it was so worth it! (It also meant I was with a hike master who was carrying a roll of duct tape which was mighty useful when the soles of both my old hiking boots started to come off on the downhill hike!)
The view of Lake of Glass at the top of the falls would have been enough, but just 4/10 of a mile and a few more stairs to climb, the views at Sky Pond were absolutely stunning. I have never hiked a summit trail at RMNP, preferring the lakes as my end points, so I can't compare this with that experience. Long ago I hiked to Chasm Lake at the foot of the east face of Longs Peak and for me, NOTHING will ever compare to that vista, but darn, for a 70+ year old, Sky Pond comes awfully close!
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