Yesterday I left Boulder at 8:30 and headed up to Estes Park and the East Longs Peak Trailhead. About an hour later, I arrived there and after a few preparations and a chat with the trailhead RMNP volunteer started heading up. I have not been at altitude since some forays to Chaos Canyon last year so I wanted to get above 11,000 feet. A quick run up to Chasm Junction (7 miles out and back, 9400-11,500') or thereabouts seemed a good plan and great preparation for doing the whole Keyhole route. The altitude definitely kept me from putting on much speed and as the trail is relatively low angle, I certainly felt like I was plodding, a feeling that lasted until I encountered some hikers and saw more clearly the difference in pace.
It was really nice to clear the treeline and soak in the tremendous ambience that Longs offers. Extraordinarily wet conditions have really fostered the alpine wildflowers which are everywhere. The soaring snow gullies and jagged ridges have a genuine alpine feel and the mist that periodically swept across the face of Diamond reminded me how serious this place can be. I saw that the snow was now clearly retreating on the section to the Boulderfield, making a run to the Keyhole a next likely destination if for no other reason than to immerse myself in the atmosphere of clear light and tremendous space that this part of the mountains offers.
The run back down was speedy and uneventful (approximately 2 hours out-and-back time) and I felt pretty good overall and ready for another excursion. I was back in Boulder at 1:30 to give Sophia lunch. Wednesday's run up Green Mountain was good preparation for yesterday's and I plan to keep building on it. It is too bad that parking near the trailhead after the Keyhole route is opened for hiking is so difficult. That is the number one hassle I foresee in trying a run/speed ascent.