Flattop Mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park

Getting near the summit, but still a ways to go. At a sharp switchback turn there is a plateau, the "Emerald Lake Lookout". You can't miss it. Don't walk by, go over and peer down into the deep valley and checkout Emerald Lake. My camera / photo technique doesn't do it justice.

Emerald Lake
The water is a sharp, clear, deep green color - very pleasing to the eye. Unlike most water, which is shades of blue or grey or brown.

The obligatory rock pile as the summit nears.

Well above the tree line, there is very little green. Mostly some thin grass or moss here and there, a little lichen on some rocks. Very little life, no insects, just an occasional chipmunk, pica, or bird. The scenery reminds me of pictures of Mars I've seen. Were it not for other hikers, you might think you were the only thing alive on the planet.

Looking North from the trail. Still a ways to go to summit yet.

Another view from the trail.

Looking back from the trail.
Looking foreward from the trail, which is seen in the upper left.

Snow and ice patches begin to appear.

Near the top, the trail is quite shallow and easy to walk. But the air (rather, the lack of it) may get to you. It got to me. Walk slowly and with rhythm. If you get out of breath it may take a while to recover. This was actually the hardest part of the hike. No energy. No oxygen. It was cold, had to be below freezing since there was ice patches all over, and snow on the cliffs. The wind was severe, steady and with extreme gusts; I actually got knocked down once. Difficult to stand on the summit, or walk. Why, I don't know. Is it always like this? Time of the season? Or just the one particular day I chose to hike?

At this point, when you feel you are about to drop, it looks flat - there is nothing "rising" ahead of you. The summit is near! Wrong. It's still quite a ways over the hill there.

Steep cliffs off to the right.

Looking back from the trail, where the best views are.
Endless panoramas in all directions.
Other hikers coming up the trail. Quite a few people on this trail, I was surprised.

Looking back again.