I borrowed the idea for this route from Rob Erskine, who also has a trip report with GPS data/maps over on his blog. Mike Hinterberg was also up there exploring a few weeks back, so more over at his place.
Twin Lake Reservoir and lower elevation peaks to the east from near Mummy Pass.
The tundra running above timberline was supreme and the views of the Mummy Range from the north outstanding. The trail was somewhat intermittent once within RMNP, but still easy to follow.
The trail dropped back into the trees as we circled southwest around Comanche Peak on the Mirror Lake trail, before shooting back up above 11,000' on a sharp two-mile, 2,000' climb to the peak (12,702') on the Comanche Peak trail. The trail faded to cairns above treeline, and we dropped to a hike as the scattered rocks increased in size and frequency. Comanche Peak itself was relatively unexciting, so we reposed for just a bit after scrambling around on a couple of summit piles that looked to have equal claim to being the high point, and then headed west across the tundra, skirting another peak to the south before hooking in with the cairns that defined the Comanche Peak trail, which, for the most part, was non-existent up high.
Once we were hooked into our ridgeline descent on the Hourglass trail from the Comanche trail, the route became gradually more defined, and once we were on trail proper, our 2,000'+ drop to Comanche Reservoir kicked into high gear through some fairly loose and technical footing. Having been pretty hesitant on all downhill work since crashing hard on Pikes last weekend, I felt like I got some good mojo back on this descent and was able to let it fly a bit in places.
From the reservoir, we made a couple of wrong turns, adding some mileage to the day, but eventually got on the Beaver Creek Trail which took us back to the Emmaline TH and Dakota's truck. We racked over 5k on the morning with just over 24 miles, having a blast in the process.
This is an absolutely awesome loop and just one example of the almost infinite and nearly always incredible lower elevation routes within striking distance of The Fort. It's a bit of a hike to get out to Pingree (an hour from my place), but there are plenty of similar options a little closer in. Why people spend their time getting frustrated with the crowds on the 14,000' peaks around Colorado continues to puzzle me when there are so many other fantastic above-timberline peaks just waiting for exploration. Very, very rarely will you see others on these lower peaks.
Just a few more weeks in the high country before the running is shut down for the season. Get it while you can!