Sometimes you just need to pack up some gear and take off for an adventure. I shuffled my schedule around and was able to take 2 days off to “relax.” It happened to fall on an anniversary of sorts for me, too, so I wanted it to be extra special. I did something that—had I told my mother—she would not have approved.
This guy was my best friend through a lot!
A lot of really shitty things happened in my life last year. A lot of those things had to do with death. Something I’ve learned out here in the great state of Colorado is that death isn’t as scary. My childhood friends would cautiously talk about the subject while growing up in grade school…..wondering if it hurt, or if it was as scary as it sounded. When you live in Colorado and participate in the never-ending outdoor activities available, you learn that it’s not the worst thing if one of your friends is killed in a bike crash, climbing accident, or avalanche. It’s a part of life out here…always pushing the limits. And if it’s time…..it’s time.
My sweet campsite by a creek at 10,688ft and nobody around but marmots.
Anyhow, before I go further on that tangent, I just wanted to say that I recently moved into my own place. No roommates, no pets, nothing. Just me. Well…I do have a few spiders, carpet beetles, and earwigs, but once I find them, they have no chance. I miss my bird, so rather than stay at home to work on my incredibly large and never-ending to-do list, I packed up some gear and drove myself to Silverton on Tuesday.
The wild flowers up high are really goin’ off! Wow!
After swinging through town, I drove out a sweet country road to the campground by the Ice Lake trail-head. I didn’t stop…..why pay for camping? I drove a few more miles and about 1,000 feet in elevation on a crazy dirt road. The Subaru did well! I even came across a nice couple coming down the road who had seen Fixie Dave come bombing out of the Colorado Trail on his fixed-gear Fat Bike. Just two days earlier, I dropped him off at the trail-head in Durango.
He’s all smiles as he heads out for an adventure!
Having Dave stay the night was really fun! I got to know him a little better over a few local microbrews. Turns out he likes Valentina hot sauce, any cold beer that is handed to him, and could live on macaroni and cheese every day for the rest of his life. I’m not so sure about that last one! Some of you may have heard the news that I sold my mountain bike and haven’t really wanted to ride after a bad experience at elevation….Dave reminded me to not take everything so seriously. Rides don’t have to be “epic” all the time, as long as they have a high giggle-factor and are mellow and fun. Well said.
There he goes, just minutes into his individual time trial of the Colorado Trail Race.
Back to the story: After setting up camp, I did a little hike to Lake Hope. The trail was a creek in places due to all the rain we’ve been getting, and there were a few steep and fun waterfalls I had to cross over.
That log is huge, and the waterfall was very steep. Hard to tell on the iPhone pic…
I came across two teenage girls who had hiked up from the lake and were walking down to trail towards where I had started. They asked me if this trail looped around. I pulled out my trusty map, commenting that I did not remember seeing a loop and they may want to head back. Nonchalantly, one of them piped, “Oh, I’ll just call my mom and have her come pick us up.” After mentioning that there is no cell service until closer to Silverton , she replied, “we’ll just walk until we get service or try to hitchhike back.” That got me thinking about high school. We learn all this crap in school, like the Pythagorean Theorem, and I couldn’t even tell you what it is or what it’s for if my life depended on it. The kids out here learn cool stuff, like not being worried about being almost in Silverton when they came from Telluride. I hope her mother didn’t have to go get them, because that would take a good 3 hours or so.
Breathtaking! You can really see a long way off towards Telluride.
Hope lake was worth it. The last ‘little’ climb over the ridge led to the view in the above photo.
That’s what was on the other side.
Wildflowers, mountains, and yours truly!
I woke up at 5:15am to a pika squeaking nearby. The temperature had dropped to 33 degrees overnight so my tent was mostly frozen. I shoved it into the car while the JetBoil was heating up some coffee, and soon was ready to head back down to the trail-head for Ice Lakes.
Sunrise photo from camp, with old mining building nestled in there.
When I arrived, I was maybe the 5th car in the lot. The Ranger said a lot of people hike this trail, so I mentally prepared myself. While I was tying up my boots, 3 more cars rolled in.
For those of you who knew my bird, you may agree that this plant could be named “Goober’s Tailfeathers”
Looking behind me on my hike up to Island Lake.
I really enjoyed the flowers on the way up, and turned right at the fork to head up to Island Lake. My plan was to avoid tourists, but a big group that pointed up at my bright red shirt started to trod up the path, too. I booked it, only stopping to whistle at a marmot and watch a jackrabbit hop away.
A shot of Island Lake from 13,000ft up on a crazy ridge.
I was the only person up there at first. I enjoyed my few minutes of solitude, then I found myself continuing up this insane barely-there trail to the top of the ridge. It was washed out, lose, no footholds….you get the idea.
By now, there were a few groups down below and I could hear someone exclaim “look…someone’s up there!” referring to me. The trail got really sketchy for me, but I clawed my way up, and finally summited the ridge. I almost turned around at one point, but I really wanted to see what was on the other side.
This is what I saw.
….and just to the right of that last pic. This is all loose, chossy rock with amazing cathedral-like spires.
Apparently this trail is used for racing the Hardrock 100. Blows my mind how someone can just run up stuff I was literally climbing up on my hands and knees.
It’s cool finding plaques at the top of peaks.
Going back down!
Cheesin’ it up by the most amazing lake I’ve ever seen.
Look waaaaay up there in the orange colored scree and you’ll see the trail I climbed.
I decided to take the trail down to Ice Lake. Why not? It was very beautiful and made me extremely happy that I chose the counterclockwise direction. Ice Lake was pretty, but full of people, so I took a pic and boogied back down the trail.
First view of Ice Lake from the connector trail.
The water is SO clear and blue!
Coming back down from being up high is always a mind game. You have tourists all over the place, your feet hurt, your mind may be telling you stuff….worrying about the to-do list perhaps. I tried to focus on why I was up there on a Wednesday. Goober‘s day. I used to worry about that little guy all the time! If I was out for a bike ride or a hike, I’d feel guilty for leaving him at home all alone. I couldn’t just pack up my car and drive to the mountains for a few days without having a bird sitter. Even if I had a bird sitter, I’d still worry about the little guy the whole time. So….I realized that while I am alone in my new place, in a new town, I don’t need to worry about anyone but myself. Take care of ME so I can take care of other people in my life.
Looking back down the valley. My Subaru is somewhere down there…
Mountain fresh cold creek water is the best on tired, achy, blistered feet! Thank goodness I painted my toes before I left….
So that was my day. Solo camping and hiking totally off the grid. I wish I could still be out there. There’s still so much to see. So many ridges to summit.
Until next time,