The hike to Glass Lake and Sky Pond is one of my favorites in the park. With waterfalls, pristine lakes, and awesome views, it's classic Rocky Mountains. No wonder the route can be pretty heavily trafficked in summer months. Come winter though, the crowds thin out considerably, especially when you get there well before sunrise, like we usually do. More than once we've been the first car at the trailhead, which as coveted as parking spots at Rocky are, is a pretty major achievement. There’s nothing like watching the sun rise over the surrounding peaks and feeling like you have the park to yourself. I always imagine what it must have been like for the first explorers to come through this area and take it all in. The lighting changes most dramatically in the early hours and that’s what we’re after. By mid-day the light is done changing (unless the weather gets interesting) and the sun just hangs in the sky until it gets lost completely when the sun drops behind the high ridges. That means we spend our time shooting on the way up, and chatting with other hikers on the way back down. I've found the people I do run in to out there are always pretty great, and it’s not totally unusual for groups to join up on occasion, the more the merrier. On this particular trip we were crossing a frozen Glass Lake on our way down when we ran into an old man with a huge smile and lot of stories. He admitted he was "nearing 80", and spends all his free time running the trails through these snowy mountains and across the frozen lakes. We stood there on the ice listening to our new friend and laughing along with him, wondering to ourselves how in the world he wasn’t absolutely freezing. He was wearing only cold weather running clothes and spikes for traction. His shirt was unzipped almost all the way, which left his thick, white, wool-like chest hair blowing around in the frigid wind. My friend and I were dressed how you would be for these conditions, but just standing around for a few minutes on the ice, with wind blowing off the mountains and across the lake was starting to make me more than a little chilly. This guy seemed totally unfazed. Later my friend and I decided the chest hair of old mountain men must be like goose down if you let it breath. Neither of us thought to ask his name, and he never offered it, but he did give us a heads up on a winter-only shortcut that saved us at least half an hour on the hike back. He still beat us down somehow, even though we never saw him again on the trail. When we got back to the trailhead there he was, taking off his spikes with a smile on his face and ice on his furry chest, already making new friends with a group of young hikers getting a late start. They hadn’t even left the parking lot yet but I knew he was going to be the highlight of their day too.