Summer Backpacking Trip

Every year I look forward to my backpacking trip, usually to Southern Colorado. Putting on the pack and walking into the mountains is always such a great way to mentally escape the stresses of life.

This year we choose the Conejos River area near Antonio, Co for our backpacking adventure. We hiked from the Three Forks Trailhead to Blue Lake. As I’m sure you know, Colorado got a lot of snow this winter, and it’s still hanging around up high! This meant that 2 of our 3 stream crossings were cranking pretty good.

The gravel road out to the trailhead is about 25 miles, overall is in good condition and a sedan should have no problem getting out there.

After we parked and loaded up, off we went on the trail, passing through fields of wild flowers and sub-alpine meadows, and into the forest. After the second steam crossing, that was thigh deep and cold, we started running into snow drifts that blocked the trail. The last third of the hike entailed navigating around these, trying to keep the boots dry.

Trailhead to Camp
Meadow near Conjenos River
2nd Stream Crossing

We got to Blue Lake in the late afternoon, found a campsite and got set-up pretty quickly. It’s always nice to get the tents set up, take off the boots, relax and take in the beautiful views.

Blue Lake

The next day we planned on hiking somewhere else, but my friend’s boots did him no favors on the hike in and his feet needed some rest. Hanging out, a little fishing, exploring the area right around the lake, and a nap. Not a bad way to spend a day. The rain started about 6pm and lasted almost all night, the volume was impressive sometimes!

A Fine View, recommended in the morning with coffee

After our leisure day and 12 hour stint in the tents hiding from rain, it was time for a hike! Blue Lake is right next to the Continental Divide Trail, an easy decision on what to hike!

The trail was super cool. So many hikes we do in the mountains are up-up-up for hours and then down-down-down. This trail, not surprisingly, was a rolling trail with saddles of alpine tundra and amazing views.

We got in about 6 miles, a nice relaxing hike. Someday I’d really like to do a decent distance, point to point hike across an awesome trail. I’ve not yet been able to organize that, but it’s on the list for sure!

Continental Divide Trail Hike
Snow on our Continental Divide Hike
Continental Divide/Fish Lake Trail Sign
Beetle devestation

The damage to the forest by beetles is terrible. So many dead trees, I’m very worried when this area goes through a dry spring/summer.

Campsite

The day we hiked out we had a relaxing morning and slowly packed up. Pretty sure I had 2 cups of coffee that morning. It’s great to be able to have a laissez faire attitude about packing up!

The hike out overall was pretty nice, except the streams we had to cross were cranking because of the rain.

Three stream crossings was a bit much. One is cool, but it’s such a momentum killer. Take off the pack, take off the socks and boots, put on the sandals, put the pack back on, cross the stream, and then sandals off, dry the feet, boots and socks on, pack on. All just to go a 100 feet, even writing it kind of makes for a run on sentence😁.

Fonzy liked this stream!
Camp to Trailhead

I enjoy these trips so much, the simplicity of your worries while being in the backcountry is very freeing. Shelter, food, as much fun as you can have. Here’s to more adventures, please feel free to share any of your favorite hikes!

stuff I use and RECOMMEND

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Photo of The Week 7/22/19

A fine campsite in the Colorado Wilderness

Loading Up!

Got started gathering the gear and loading the pack for the quickly approaching Colorado trip!

This always starts the buildup of excitement before a cool trip. I hit up REI for some food and fuel, but really didn’t need to get much this year. Really trying to get down just the stuff I need, which of course includes my french press coffee mug. I’ve got the pack loaded with about 90% of my stuff, came in a 27 lbs with no water. Pretty happy with this and intent on avoiding the weight creeping up by throwing in things at the last minute that are not needed. I know better but sometimes keep making the mistake.

I usually rely on the freeze dried foods like Mountain House. There are some dinner entrees that I really like. Not sure if they taste so good because of the energy you’ve expended by the time you eat them, or if they’re actually good. I guess I’d have cook one at home and eat it. Doubtful I’m going to do this, and why know that they only taste good because your super hungry, in this sense it’s better to just believe! 😁

I tried the Scrambled Eggs and Bacon breakfast once, it was the complete opposite of good. Fortunately for me I love having oatmeal for breakfast, sometimes at home, almost always while backpacking!

If you’d like to try out some Mountain House entrees, here’s our Amazon Affiliate link for one of my favorites, the Beef Stroganoff!

Have any great backpacking tips? Feel free to share!

Going Down the Trail is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I personally use.

Photo of the Week 7/8/19

Oh Be Joyful

1 week until the Colorado backpacking!!

This Summer’s Adventures

Working in the restaurant industry in Phoenix necessitates taking vacations during the summer. While it can be a little warm in Phoenix, I’m still able to do a decent amount of outdoor activities and get away for some cool backpacking.

One of the first escapes should be a few days car camping with my wife. I just recently got us a 6 man tent, for excellent comfort in the campgrounds. While I enjoy the backpacking experience immensely, some comfy car camping is fun as well!

Only place in the yard I could try to set up the tent

After that comes the Colorado backpacking trip, usually the highlight of the year for outdoor adventures. The past few years, for various reasons (impressive volumes of rain and wind or serious lack of precipitations), we haven’t been able to have a campfire. Really hoping for a few small campfires to sit around this time. Heading to an area around the continental divide, moving between some lakes. After a long hectic season of work the simplicity of backpacking and the beauty of the mountains help recharge the spirit. I feel like I can live pretty comfortably while backpacking, the REI Co-op Double Shot Press Mug doesn’t hurt (apparently it’s not available anymore, but I bet you can something similar). A real cup of coffee sure makes mornings in the mountains exceedingly nice.

This was my view for 12 hours 2 years ago waiting out a torrential downpour

Then in early September it’s back to the Grand Canyon! There will be four of us this time, should be a fun group. We’re going about two weeks later than last year, but it’s early September so it will probably still be pretty hot! As usual, i’m sure we’ll challenge ourselves. So we’ve got that goin’ for us , which is fun. The canyon is such an amazing place, around every turn is another incredible picture!

If I mix in some SUPing out at the lakes around Phoenix, it should be a good summer.

Who else has some sweet summer adventure plans?

Grand Canyon Backpacking

In the 20 years that I had lived in Arizona I had been to the Grand Canyon once, and didn’t venture below the rim. I had heard such cool stories and seen many amazing pictures. I knew that I needed to experience it for myself, Fortunately, I was easily able to convince 2 friends to come along.

I applied a little late in the application time frame, but since it was an August date, not too much of a problem. We all live and recreate outdoors year round in Phoenix, So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

This was an awesome trip. Headed out from Phoenix around 10am, I love the excitement of leaving town for an adventure , you feel the city melt away! It’s about 4 hours from Phoenix, it’s a cool drive as you pass from the desert to high desert to mountains and back to high desert.

Approaching Skeleton Point

I Love This Sign

.The Heat Warning Sign

This sign is posted around the National Park Corridor Trails, it warns people of the challenging, extreme conditions hiking in the canyon can expose you to. While the warning is written in a few languages, I love the visual they gave to get the message across to almost anyone…

The Hike

We could not have gotten luckier with the weather, we hiked in the around 4ish. We parked at the Backcountry Information Center and had to hop 2 buses over to the South Kaibab Trailhead. It’s amazing the number of foreign visitor the canyon gets. On the second bus I didn’t hear a single word of English. The first mile or so of our hike we were surrounded by a group of younger Italians, after Cedar Point we saw very few people, just us and the awesome canyon views!

The Tip-Off
Bright Angel Camground

It was dark by the time we got to Bright Angel Campground, we quietly set up camp, around many sleeping people. We strolled over to Boat Beach to chill for a bit, so as not to make too much noise. The only bummer about the campground is how close the sites are to each other, but flat space is pretty limited down there. One huge highlight, a flush toilet!! Here’s my Garmin track from the hike in.

The next day we hiked up North Kaibab Trail for a ways, just exploring around and enjoying being in such an amazing place. After that we headed back to the campground and cooled off by sitting in Bright Angel Creek, sooo nice!

Bright Angel Creek

A little later we walked over to the Canteen at Phantom Ranch and enjoyed a couple beers, not something that happens too often while backpacking. We started talking to the guy working the counter there. Pretty interesting guy who lives in upstate New York. He had been retired for 5-6 years, his wife had retired just a few years ago and told him he needed to get a job, so he did… at the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

The Black Bridge from Boat Beach

We woke up pretty early the next morning, packed up camp and headed out for the Indian Garden campground about halfway up the Bright Angel Trail. This trail is completely different from South Kaibab, as it winds its way up through the natural weaknesses. Here’s my Garmin track from the hike to Indian Garden.

Bright Angel Trail

The hike to Indian Garden was a lot easier than I had expected. I suffered some at altitude in Colorado, apparently the altitude really kicked my ass because this entire hike felt relaxing. Indian Garden is another excellent campground. With ramadas and picnic tables at each campsite, it’s living in luxury!

Indian Garden Campground

We hiked out to Plateau Point for the view and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately for me the wind was kicking up and it looked like rain. I left my rain fly off to let the tent air out a little, so I got to run the mile and a half or so back to camp to get my rain fly on, good fun, I’m a genius!

After another even earlier wake up, we packed up and headed for the rim! The trail looks impossible when viewed from the campground but winds its way up though the weakness. The 3 rest-houses on the trail are great, nice little stops with water. Here’s my Garmin track from Indian Garden to the Rim. This was an amazing trip, and I can’t recommend it enough. I liked it so much I just faxed in my application for this September!!

Bright Angel Trail in switchbacks from Plateau Point

Last Year’s Colorado Backpacking

Been slacking off on the blogging so trying to catch up a little bit, so here’s an overview of last summer’s Colorado backpacking adventure!

Trail to Ice Lake

In late July we hit up 2 spots in South Central Colorado, the Blue Lakes and Ice Lake. They are both amazing alpine lakes, they do get some traffic, so during the week is the way to go!

Lower Blue Lake

The Blue Lakes of Colorado are near Ridgeway and Telluride. We drove up from Phoenix and made it to the Alta Lakes campground near Telluride. Cruised around Telluride a little the next day, picked up some supplies and off into the hills we went.

It’s 3 miles to Lower Blue Lake from the trailhead, feels pretty tough with a full pack and coming from the lowland of Phoenix doesn’t help. Found nice campsite and moved in. The past few years our backpacking as featured a lot of rain and this year was no exception!

The next morning after enjoying some coffee and waiting for the rain to stop, we head up to hike to the Upper Blue Lakes and I wanted to give Mt Sneffels a shot, the local 14er’. It was a nice hike up to and over the pass into Yankee Boy Basin, I made it about 2/3 of the way up the Lavender Couloir, before an approaching storm made me turn around. By the time I made it back to camp it was a full on thunderstorm. Hooray for smart choices in the mountains!

Lower Blue Lake
Blue Lakes Pass Trail

After hiking out from The Blue Lakes we drove over the huge Red Mountain Pass and into Silverton. After a quick resupply we headed off to the Ice Lake Traihead.

After a rainy, tough, but cool hike in we found ourselves a nice campsite, set up, got some dry clothes on and relaxed. Which is easy to do with views like these!

The hike to Upper Ice Lake is short but super steep! It is an amazing high alpine area once you get up there. We hung out up there hiking around and enjoying the area.

Ice Lake
Fuller Lake
Trail to Fuller Lake
Island Lake

After 5 days in the tents it was time to head back to Phoenix, there’s nothing like these mountain escapes, so good for the mental state! The simplicity of backpacking and living out of a tent in an amazing place can’t be beat. Get out and Go!