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!

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Photo of The Week 7/22/19

A fine campsite in the Colorado Wilderness

Photo of the Week 7/8/19

Oh Be Joyful

1 week until the Colorado backpacking!!

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!

High Altitude Training Days

While I had planned to go on RAGBRAI for vacation this year, I just couldn’t make it happen.  Since I had already scheduled my vacation time and wanted to get some good miles on the bike, my friend Len and I headed up to Flagstaff.   It’s a great place to go for some riding in nice weather and the altitude.

We headed out Wednesday morning, the drive wasn’t too bad just a little rain on the way up.  We made the turn out Lake Mary Road and settled on the Dairy Springs Campground.  It’s a few miles in on the Mormon Lake Rd.  After choosing a campsite towards the back we got the trucks unloaded and started to move in!

Here’s a pic of the campsite all set-up:

Knowing that we would get rained on during our stay, we set ourselves up pretty well.  We had a tarp over the picnic table and an easy-up to give us a dry area for the bikes.  The first few days the campground was completely empty, it was great to have the whole area!  One great bonus, as I was looking around for a suitable fire poking stick I found the Arizona Trail not but 100 ft from our campsite.  Trail  running all taken care of!

Around 2:30 we were all moved in and it was time to ride!  We just rode a quick loop around Mormon Lake and a little more, about 18 miles.  I really felt the altitude on the hills climbs, it was nice to do a short ride to help with the acclimatization.  After that we got in a nice 4 miles on the Arizona Trail, some really nice single track running.  While there were a few places that were kind of rocky, most of it was nice soft dirt in a beautiful ponderosa pine forest!

That night we built a nice fire cooked up some food and had a few beers.  When car camping I’m a fan of living well, after we entertained ourselves with the fire for a bit we busted out Len’s laptop and watched a movie.  Better Off Dead was the night’s movie, a classic with the best skiing advice ever: “Go that way really fast, if something gets in your way – TURN!”

The next morning we woke up to clear skies, but they wouldn’t last all day.  We started the day with another 4 miles on the Arizona Trail, cooked breakfast and chilled for a bit.  After some nice campsite relaxing we headed out for a ride down Lake Mary Rd.

Lake Mary Rd is a great ride rolling hills and an excellent bike lane.  Especially headed back towards camp there are some quality climbs!  That night we went to the Mormon Lake Saloon for a couple of drinks then back to the campsite.

Friday we woke up to a pretty good thunderstorm and just hunkered down in the tents until it passed.  After that is was back out on Lake Mary road for another 50 or so miles, got rained on pretty good but it didn’t bother me at all!  Later that afternoon we headed in to Flag, met up with some friends of Len’s for a drink.  It was nice to cruise around the town, I really like Flagstaff!

Saturday was our last day, after cooking some breakfast we tore down camp and loaded up the trucks.  The last ride of the trip was a fun one, the climb up to Arizona Snowbowl Ski Area!
We drove into town, parked the trucks at Len’s friends house and hopped on the bikes.  It was 5 miles of rolling hills out to the ski area road and then 7 miles and over 2400 ft of climbing to the ski area.  The road isn’t that steep, it just doesn’t let up the whole way!  I was feeling the past few days of riding and my heart rate was pretty high but I just kept on pedaling until I finally saw the Snowbowl sign.  Unfortunately, Len popped a spoke on his back wheel half way up, so he chilled by the side of the road while i finished the climb.  After I got to the top and caught my breath, it was back down the hill to the truck and back out to pick Len up.  It ended up being a great trip, I had hoped to get a few more miles in but all in all it worked out well and I had fun!

Had to take a bike pic up there:

And a nice pic of the road we got to ride:

After grabbing a bite to eat in Flag, it was back down the hill to spend my last few vacation days with Amy!