Of course the high country always has a lot to offer, but it gets even better when you create & achieve backpacking goals with others that love to share the stoke!
This past summer, Women of Colorado went on overnight trips at two relatively popular hikes which are generally done as day hikes. These are relatively grueling & arduous day hikes with a minimum of 2,000 feet of elevation gain each. Locations that take time to get to. So much time, that on a short day hike you feel the urgency to escape as soon as you arrive, which really takes away from the time you could be using to explore & enjoy the views. Although they may not have been the biggest objectives, they're extremely worthy & worthwhile as well as challenging backpacking hikes.
Ice Lakes, Island Lake & the upper Ice Lakes Basin in the San Juan Mountains of the Western Slope was our first destination. We hiked 3 miles with a 2,000 foot elevation gain Friday evening, leaving the end of the ascent for early morning. At a bright & early 5AM, we set to the final 1,000ft climb among an alpine basin of silence, free of the overwhelming daily hiking traffic & afternoon monsoons. We got to experience a colorful sunrise & the first passes of sunlight over the bright blue-green waters as we arrived in the upper basin. The wildflowers were at their peak for the summer with bright colors of red, blue, white, purple, pink, yellow & along with the classic Colorado Columbine covering the meadows. It was an unforgettable experience taking in this majestic wilderness at the slow pace of nature. We traversed the entire expanse of the upper basin, ultimately hiking almost 15 miles in the short 24 hours we were there. We got to enjoy the entire basin which boasts continuously panoramic views, the iconic Island Lake, as well as an incredible view from over 12,000ft of the basin below.
Blue Lakes Basin gave us the same treat of time in the high alpine devoid of the usual saunter of day hikers & urgency. The aspens were starting the change as we hit this beautiful basin in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness. Blue skies, a beautiful day & bright blue waters soothed the soul. The basin was overwhelmingly expansive & epic, with incredible rewards of fun with our pups & time to kick back far away from foot traffic with an incredible 14er hanging above you amidst the pristine blue alpine lake views. Backpacking is always a challenge, with rewards of great inner & outer peace, restoration in nature, friendship, & fun. I'll never forget watching the moon rise up behind Mount Sneffels with Brittany & Emily, or swimming to the island at Island Lake with Priya, Nicole, Maryl, & Brittany cheering me on.
If there's one thing I personally love to do, it's getting into the wilderness & sharing these beautiful places with people that genuinely appreciate & respect them. Both our backpacking trips, though somewhat humble, gave me a new perspective on backpacking. The journey is the destination. Having the time to enjoy some of the most beautiful places on Earth is crucial to our well-being & connection with nature. It endows you with respect for the unpredictable & magnetic nature of the wild world.
Thanks to those that were part of our backpacking trips in 2018, I greatly look forward to sharing even more remote & not-well-known locations with you all in the year to come.
Founder, Women of Colorado