Peak(s):  Kroenke Lake - 11500
Date Posted:  10/14/2014
Modified:  09/06/2015
Date Climbed:   09/06/2014
Author:  MtnHub
 Kroenke Lake & a Couple of 12ers   

Kroenke Lake & a Couple of 12ers

September 6, 2014

Kroenke Lake (11,500')
Point 12,778'
Point 12,685'

Trailhead: North Cottonwood Creek

Climber: MtnHub


The weather this summer was playing havoc with my plans. It was difficult to plan much of anything when the forecasts keep predicting a good chance of showers all over the state. I was staying with a friend in Buena Vista and thought rather than drive a long ways with a fair chance of getting stormed out, I'd just do a short lake hike nearby.

I chose Kroenke Lake. If the day turned out to be OK, I'd just keep heading up some of the surrounding 12ers.

The Climb:

I reach the lake by early morning. There are a fair amount of clouds but so far they look pretty innocuous. The sky is actually blue ahead of me to the west. Kroenke Lake lies in a very beautiful setting, but I don't stay long. If I have any kind of chance at hitting a few 12ers I need to do it early vs. later. The forecast predicts a better chance of afternoon showers today.
Kroenke Lake (11,500') & Point 12,778'

The trail continues around the lake to the south. Near the far end of it, the trail rises sharply with several switchbacks.
The trail continues around the lake.

Rising above the lake.

I don't see too many trees turning color yet, but the alpine flora on the hills is definitely starting to change into various hues of reds and oranges, and it makes for an interesting contrast with the dark evergreen trees.
Point 12,955'

The shallow little island within the lake can now be seen better.

The contrasts continue as I climb. I meander through beautiful transformations of color and form, geological features and vegetation.
Rocks and trees.

Willows and cliffs.

When I rise above the trees and get into the tundra, the trail heads straight up to the Continental Divide.
Along the open trail.

Some other Sawatch peaks now visible over the Divide.

At the Divide the trail heads south leading to Browns Pass. I turn to the north instead and plan to hit the first two 12ers bordering Kroenke Lake from that direction.
The trail stops.

Kroenke Lake with its little island from Point 12,778'

Point 12,685' from Point 12,778'

Along the Continental Divide.

I make it to Point 12,778' without any trouble and head down to the adjoining saddle. Once I'm there, I scope the scree slope leading down to the lake thinking it could possibly be an escape route or even a quicker way back than going over the 12er again. It looks very doable, but I also know that looks can be very deceiving. I've discovered several times in the past that "shortcuts" frequently take longer and are much more arduous than a groomed trail over a farther distance. What may appear from a high ridge to be easy vegetation to pass through may well end up being nasty willows or stinging nettle over a marshy or uneven surface. Nevertheless, I pocket this thought as a possibility should a thundercloud develop quickly overhead.
Looking down at Kroenke Lake from the saddle between Point 12,778' & Point 12,685'.

Lovely setting!

I tag Point 12,685' and then almost immediately turn around and head back. There is definitely rain falling in several areas nearby and it will take me about 45 minutes to an hour to return to the lake again. I'd rather be in the trees if it gets too bad.
Looking back at Point 12,778' from Point 12,685'

At the saddle I once again look down the chute. I decide to take my chances going over 12,778' again and return to the lake via the trail. I think I could get down from the saddle to the trees surrounding the lake easy enough, but I just don't trust that it would be easy access around the lake and I could easily lose a lot of time plowing through heavy underbrush.

I make it back over Point 12,778' in pretty good time and once I'm on the trail I can move quickly again, so I don't regret my decision at all. The alpine meadow is beautiful to experience from this direction too.
The high alpine meadow above Kroenke Lake on my return.

Walking along the trail just before reaching the parking lot, there is evidence of the aspens starting to change.
Along the trail back to the parking area.

Fall is in the air.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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