Saturday, October 11, 2008

Indian Peaks Wilderness

On Thursday evening, we set up camp at the Peaceful Valley campground. The skies looked threatening, though rain never did materialize. It was definitely cold though! Eventually, Brian climbed in the tent to keep warm while Sarah sat up to wait for her sister, Lisa, who would be joining us. It’s a good thing we all had warm sleeping bags!

As it turned out, we had the whole campground to ourselves. There was another campground about a mile up the road just before the road dead-ended, and that campground had a decent number of campers. It wasn’t clear why nobody else stopped at the first campground. We had a pleasant site by a creek.

The next morning, we set off to find the Pawnee Pass trailhead in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. The wilderness is just south of Rocky Mountain National Park and quite close to Denver and Boulder. We’d never heard of it before but we found it in our book of best hikes in the US. After a couple wrong turns, we finally located the trailhead, which was packed even though it was only about 9:30 AM on a weekday.

The hike lived up to its billing as a best hike, even though the weather was less than stellar. The first part of the hike was through the woods. We passed the outlet of Long Lake.

Here’s Long Lake.

The fresh snow on the peaks was quite beautiful.

We continued to climb, quickly getting above treeline, and had more great views.

Eventually, we started leveling off.

By the time we reached the pass, at 12,550 feet, it was very cloudy.

We took a quick snack break but didn’t hang around long at the pass because the weather was looking increasingly threatening. Sure enough, as we were nearing treeline on the way back down, we could see a thunder and lightning storm in the distance. We also got snowed on a bit.

After our hike, we headed back to Lisa’s place in Denver, where we planned to hang out for a week.

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