Indian Peaks Wilderness. Never heard of it? Neither had I. Would you guess that the above photo was taken just an hour's drive outside of Boulder? Well, and a 9 mile or so hike in :) Indian Peaks joins the much more renowned Rocky Mountain National Park, home of Longs Peak, just to the south.
Deciding on IPW for our five day backpacking trip was no easy feat. Colorado had a massive snow storm in May, which meant that in mid-June, there was still a lot of snow up high--making some of the backpacking routes either impassable or requiring mountaineering gear. Connie and I probably called a dozen rangers and guiding services trying to get a better idea of conditions in several of the nearby parks. We were considering the San Juans, RMNP, IPW, and the Wind River Range. Surprisingly, no one could give us an up-to-date report on the conditions. Just generic information about there still being "a lot of snow pack up high in places". Super helpful. We decided to roll the dice and head for the big mountains in IPW.
Solid hikers, excellent company, and quiet sleepers. What more could you ask for in a backpacking partner? This was the furry one, Alta's, first backpacking trip. And she was totally up for it! The only obstacle that threw her at first were the river crossings, but after a few, she seemed to get the hang of it. And man, once she was on snow, she was OFF. Whether or not Connie was still standing...
A Pass A Day...
The loop we haphazardly threw together ended up being around 70 miles with a pass nearly every day. Added to that, some stretches of the trail were completely covered by snow, requiring a lot of bush whacking to find the trail, or were laden with downed trees. The conditions slowed us down, but also really added to the adventure. We were some of the first people out backpacking for the season!
Lone Eagle Cirque
The highlight of the trip was, without a doubt, Lone Eagle Cirque. Surrounded by huge peaks, the trail dead ends at Crater Lake. From there, the only way up is on a rope! There are a number of trad routes up Lone Eagle and I am sure we will be back to give them a go.