Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Backpacking in the Wind Rivers - August 2020


The last week of summer we spent 3 days backpacking in the Wind River mountains of northwestern Wyoming.  This was my first trek into this stunning area.  Zach had visited this location multiple times before and always spoke about its beauty.  Well...it didn't disappoint.  I was told that these mountains have always been a best kept secret of the locals in the area.  Apparently, some people are letting the secret out because the trailheads were totally full with vehicles parked a mile down along the road.  In all his years coming up here, Zach had never seen so many visitors to the area.  I know that our Colorado mountains are getting overpopulated, but this was kind of sad to see a spot that's in the middle of nowhere in the least populated state have such traffic.  The silver lining is that it's likely the Corona-virus is the cause of so many people going to the mountains.  With everything else shut down, there's not much for people to do.  Outdoor activities are one of the only "safe" suggestions given to us from the government.  Hopefully, once the virus induced madness has subsided, the mountains will belong to the regulars again. 

This was also my first venture into grizzly country.  I slept very little the night before we went on this trip.  It wasn't because I was afraid of grizzly bears, but because I was afraid of not being able to sleep at night in the tent because of the thoughts about grizzly bears.  

"There's nothing to fear but fear itself" 

This is a true statement.  Fortunately, I was so exhausted by the time we reached Dads Lake due to lack of sleep that I slept like a baby that night.  No bear problems, just lots of people.

Dads Lake Wind River Wyoming
Dads Lake - Prints Available

Mirror Lake


The next day we planned on heading to Pyramid Lake, then on the third day hit Shadow Lake near the Cirque de Towers.  We quickly realized that we were not in great backpacking shape.  So, we decided to do one or the other.  Zach was partial to Shadow, so there we went.  The views on the backside of the cirque are stunning:


A small pond with views of the Mt. Hooker group


First views of the Cirque



As we sat at our camp that afternoon, a young girl only 21 years old came by and visited with us.  She was doing the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico....on foot....by herself.  Wow!  You could tell that she was a little starved for any type of connection with real people as she lingered around our camp for a good hour or so talking about all her adventures so far and her plans for the next few months.  Finally, we offered her some of our extra snacks from our packs which she gladly accepted.  It's crazy to think about someone so vulnerable just walking across the wilderness by herself.  This is not a thing I would ever support my own daughter doing.   In our minds, the biggest danger for someone in her situation is not the animals or elements, but the crazy people she might happen upon.  Still, we were amazed at her bravery and dedication toward accomplishing such a lofty goal. 


Sunset on Shadow Lake - Prints Available

Shadow Lake Cirque De Towers Sunrise Wind River Range Wyoming
Sunrise on Shadow Lake - Prints Available




Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Sunrise from Handies Peak - July, 2020

Colorado 14er Handies Peak with American Peak in the San Juan Mountain Range
Sunrise from Colorado 14er Handies Peak - Prints available

This weekend, was kind of a cool 14er reunion for James, Brad and I.  The three of us used to hike 14ers together often when we were in our 20's.  So it was cool to catch up and relive a little of those experiences.  Jimmy and Lindsey joined us this time for a hike in the dark to catch the sunrise from the top.  We started at 2AM on the trail.  Yes... waking up is the hardest part.  In the dark, we lost the trail a couple times near Sloan Lake and had to backtrack using our GPS, but had just enough time to reach the ideal height to see the show.  The sunrise was cloudless, but the sky turned all colorful.  We were wondering if we'd be able to see the NEOWISE comet, but I think it was on the horizon behind the mountains while we were on our way up.

Mt. Sneffels in the distance

The Vermilion Group in the distance

Half Peak left of center (I think)

Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn

Surprisingly, there were a few other parties up there for the sunrise.  I suppose even the more remote 14ers are gaining popularity.  The hike down was leisurely and we got to "frolic" in the wildflowers which American Basin is known for.  The flowers weren't as lush this year as I've seen in the past, but still good. 

Sloan Lake

Jimmy decided that he's not a fan of heights on this hike, especially as we drove along the shelf road with hoards of 4-wheelers passing us along the way.  We stopped in Lake City for the best burger ever at the American Elk Grill and Inn before our long drive back home.  It was a lot of driving and hiking and not a lot of sleeping.  Man, that seemed like it was a lot easier on your body a decade ago. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Lost Twin Lakes, Bighorn Mountains - July, 2020

We spent a week in Wyoming at Nathan and Kameryn's place which sits on a foresty hill.  Wow! They have built a beautiful house in a beautiful place!  All the in-laws joined us up there with all the kids which was chaotic... and... fun.  On the weekend, we went backpacking into the Bighorns for one night to Lost Twin Lakes from the Tensleep trailhead.  It was a moderate hike, though it kicked our butts cause we're getting old.  The fishing was really good, the veiws were good, and we saw some bull moose on the way out.  It was also nice to get to know Nathan and Kameryn a little better.

Spotlight hits the peaks in the Bighorn Mountains Wyoming at sunset
Sunset - Lost Twin Lakes - Prints available

Bighorn Mountains with twin waterfalls in the Bighorn Mountains Wyoming
Lost Twin Waterfalls :)

Sunrise at Lost Twin Lakes in the Bighorn Mountains Wyoming
Sunrise - Lost Twin Lakes - Prints available

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Shoshoni Peak - July, 2020

Shoshoni Peak Summit Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

Before heading to Wyoming, we got to get out and do a quick hike of Shoshoni peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.  This is such a cool place with awesome scenery so close to home.  The Brainard Lake Area was only allowing a certain number of vehicles into the parking lot to mitigate impact of COVID so we made sure to get there super early.  This was Tootsie's first mountain and she did great.  By the time we got back to the car, she was pretty spent.

Sunrise at Long Lake Indian Peaks Wilderness
Sunrise at Long Lake

Apache and Navajo from the Summit of Shoshoni - Prints available

Friday, June 19, 2020

Hiking Sky Pond, RMNP - June, 2020

Rocky Mountain National Park Sky Pond Panorama Prints Photography panoramic
Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park - Prints available

This past weekend we did a "warm up" hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park.  This has got to be one of the best hikes in the whole Estes Park area.  The lake sits at the base of rugged spires known as the Sharkstooth and 13,000 ft. Taylor Peak.  In early June, there was plenty of snow to cross with an exciting scramble up a waterfall to reach this high glacial lake.  Marmots and other critters weren't afraid of people up here. One even walked right up to our feet!  A good day with great friends and a "manhandler" at Smokin' Daves for lunch is always a worthy prize for such a workout.

The Loch

Lake of Glass

The Sharkstooth

...And here's a relaxing set of video clips from the hike:

Monday, June 8, 2020

Backpacking Boulder Lake with the Kids - June 2020

The Coronavirus has kept us all home for months.  National Parks are beginning to open and outdoor recreation is considered a good social distancing activity. We chose a more secluded area in the Eagle's Nest Wilderness to take the kids on their first backpacking trip.  The route was 3 miles one way and 1,500 ft. of elevation gain with lots of ups and downs along the way.  We had doubts on how the kids would do especially Kolby with his little almost 4 year old legs.  Well...the two of them were troopers!  We just had to keep playing games and taking snack breaks to keep them entertained.  They made it all the way to the lake and I didn't even have to carry them (much). By the way, sunrise at the lake was stunning!

Boulder Lake Black and White

Boulder Lake Sunrise - Vertical

Sunrise in the Eagle's Nest Wilderness Silverthorne Colorado Gore Range Boulder Lake lakes
Sunrise at Boulder Lake - Prints Available