Missouri & Fancy Lakes Loop (Colorado II)

An excellent hike to warm up and adjust to altitude in the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado combines the Fancy Lakes and Missouri Lakes trails to a 8.5 mile loop.

The ascent via Fancy Lake is a steady climb without difficulties, and offers plenty of opportunities to contemplate nature, and the nature of loops.

There is the contrast to an In&Out, where you retrace your steps, an undoing — what remains is the memory of having been.

Towards Fancy Pass (at about 12,400 ft) we have climbed above tree level and the look back offers serene desolation, while the other side is an enormous open meadow.

Our non-human animal friends are surprisingly trustful here; maybe they haven’t left paradise yet.

From Missouri pass it’s a long but gentle descent to a chain of a dozen lakes with the same name. again offering time for contemplation.

Why do I like sad faces better than happy faces?

Aren’t they more beautiful, always?

Good loop trails don’t really close. They seem to leave a small gap at the end, like a broken circle, an unfinishing.

We will come back, and try again, and again.

There is beauty in that, too.

Up (Colorado I)

The standard route to Mount of the Holy Cross begins at Half Moon trailhead and leisurely climbs up to Half Moon pass.

Starting early (5am) gets you to the pass at dawn with magnificent views back.

The other side of the pass reveals the mountain and the prospect of a long and steep climb. Before that, you’ll have to descend 1,000 feet, losing almost all you had gained before.

Eat breakfast at sunrise among wildflowers on the north slope.

Despite its harshness, there is vegetation all the way to the top.

Then you begin an eternal climb on a well-maintained trail.

Just before the final & rugged ascent, there is a long and eery horizontal ridge. Nothingness can be beautiful.

The summit itself is a nice plateau with breathtaking views. If you have breath left.

From here, it all looks very gentle and easy.

On the long way down don’t forget to save some energy to climb up to Half Moon Pass again.