The Mountain Fought Back

The Mountain Fought Back

Lack of sleep and a 3,000′ ascent with the wind blowing in your face is not an idealistic adventure. But, in our defense, we’re stubborn. Mt Audubon is still a nemesis to us, always fighting us as we make our way to its summit, yet somehow, the relationship we share with the mountain seems to work. As expected, the mountain fought back.

We were overly eager to get back in the Colorado high country after having taken a week off from hiking. We set the goal of heading to one of our all-time favorite areas, the Indian Peaks Wilderness, to pay a visit to a nemesis of ours, Mt Audubon which sits at 13,223′ above sea level.

The trail is fairly aggressive, up hill all the way and mostly above treeline. Seems every time we attempt this strenuous alpine adventure the mountain always finds a way to fight back! This outing would not be an exception to that rule.

Once again, we had a fight on our hands. Our plan was a three in the morning wake-up call. Somewhere between seven the night before and two the next morning we were able to get about two or three hours of sleep. We’re blaming that on the full moon.

For some unknown reason, we got ourselves up and out the door and were on the trail by 4:30 in the morning. Headlamps on, bear spray in hand and a less than desirable caffeine level we wandered off into the dark woods awaiting the first light of day.

Amazingly, we broke treeline just as the sun came over the horizon. Wow, what a sight. We began to awaken with the dark now giving way to light.

The night before our hike we looked up the weather for the region and summit of Mt Audubon one last time. Mild temperatures, little to no wind and clear skies were in our favor. Anyone who knows mountain weather will feel our pain on what came next. As we approached the cutoff for the trail that lead to the summit, the wind came vigorously down off the peak and hit us smack in the face! Little to no wind? It would stay this way throughout the duration of our hike, well, until we got back down anyway. We’ve grown to understand that Mt Audubon also has a sense of humor.

Still somewhat half asleep we opted to bypass the summit trail and head off into an area we had never explored. Off trail exploration is something of a comedy act with us, we’re always surprised at our findings as much what those findings lead to. We followed the Beaver Creek trail for about a mile and then headed for a ridgeline to get a view down into the valley where Upper and Lower Coney Lakes sit.

It wasn’t long and we found ourselves navigating a snow field, scree and thick alpine scrub brush. And we thought we were alone! Once again we were looking at each other with that awkward stare of, “what now?” We were surrounded by bear scat and had just about wandered into a den when we found ourselves in quick retreat!

The conversation went something like this, “What’s that? Bear scat. It’s everywhere. (twig snaps followed by grunting sounds from bush) Was that you? No. We need to go…now!”

Back on the trail and laughing at ourselves, we did an about-face and made our way back towards Mt Audubon. Little sleep, certainly not enough coffee, and now full of adrenaline, we were deliriously hiking along. “Hey, you know what, the summit really isn’t that far and we’ve dealt with the wind before.” What is far? It was an additional two miles and another 2,000′ to the summit!

Stubborn, determined or just insane, we made our way up. Loose scree and talus fields are no fun when you are half-asleep. The debate is still out on the actual amount of oxygen at 13,000′ and we are still not sure what grumbled at us earlier. Suffice it to say, we had another incredible day in the Colorado high country and can’t wait to go again.

The views (see video below) were amazing to say the least. What followed as we made or way back to the trailhead can only be described as a sad, yet graceful, fall off the mountain. We must have appeared drunk.

Lack of sleep and a 3,000′ ascent with the wind blowing in your face is not an idealistic adventure. Mt Audubon is still a nemesis to us, always fighting us as we make our way to its summit, yet somehow, the relationship we share with the mountain seems to work. As expected, the mountain fought back.

Peace,

MAD

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Addicted to Hiking

Pawnee Peak, Pawnee Pass, Pawnee Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Continental Divide, MAD Hippies Life, Addicted to Hiking

After years of hiking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we’ve finally accepted that we are addicted to hiking. There’s just no substitute for being in the high country, apart from modern civilization and left to explore the raw and untamed wild.

Our latest adventure in the backcountry of Colorado took us high into the Indian Peaks Wilderness, past several lakes, across clear running streams and eventually above the timberline where the views were as vast as the eye can see and the mind can imagine. Pawnee Pass and Peak, a mountain pass and peak high on the Continental Divide, would serve us well on this day!

Lake Isabelle, Long Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, MAD Hippies Life, Addicted to Hiking

We were captivated by towering mountain peaks as the landscape slowly changed from serene forests to an otherworldly alpine environment. Glaciers, marmots and jagged peaks were our company as the hustle and bustle of the city was light years away. Indeed, we had removed ourselves from society altogether and were now witness to nature in all of its glory.

Funny how after a long hike, when you are on your last leg, one mile left to go to get back to your vehicle, and you start talking to yourself about finding easier hikes in the future. And yet, after a good shower, meal and some much needed rest, you are already dreaming of the next adventure, further, deeper and higher into the recesses of the mountains.

Pawnee Pass Trail, Lake Isabelle, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Alpine Adventure, MAD Hippies Life, Addicted to Hiking

We are not in this for a speed contest, we are not peak baggers and by and far it is not about boasting. This is simply two love-struck teenagers about to turn fifty seeking to enjoy life one experience at a time. Taking long hikes, backpacking overnight or just a quick day hike is soothing to our soul. Sure, our bodies are put to the test, but that is a good thing. We want to be healthy, keep active and live a fulfilled and invigorating life.

Indeed, after years of hiking in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we’ve finally accepted that we are addicted to hiking. There’s just no substitute for being in the high country, apart from modern civilization and left to explore the raw and untamed wild.

Peace,

MAD

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Lake Isabelle Early Spring Hike

Winter Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

This is indeed why we hike, why we seek the solace of the high country and why we love sharing our experiences that others might be inspired to step out of their comfort zone and see it with their own eyes. Lake Isabelle is just such a place to step outside of everyday life and into the wild unknown.

Lake Isabelle hidden from the outside world lies just to the south of Rocky Mountain National Park in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. And while many do seek an alpine experience here during the summer months, few will make the trek through the deep snow of the winter season which can linger well into June.

Winter Lake Isabelle Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

At just under 11,000′ in elevation, Lake Isabelle sits protected from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, surrounded by three spectacular peaks, Navajo (13,409′), Apache (13,441′) and Shoshoni (12,967′) and fed by the Isabelle Glacier (12,000′) via the St Vrain Creek.

While getting here is not like climbing Mt Everest, the altitude is something to respect if you’re not used to its effects. Patience is the key as you climb steadily along the trail past vast mountain views, clear running streams, lush forests and the ever present Indian Peaks which stand guard over the area.

Our latest outing was nothing less than amazing. The traditional summer trail is not passable in winter and early spring, as it is buried deep under a blanket of winter snow.

One must take precautions by understanding the lay of the land and be quite familiar with route finding and topographical maps. While the use of a GPS device can be helpful, if the batteries ever fail, you’d be on your own. Add to this technical aspect of finding your way there and back, and knowledge of unpredictable weather in the high country is a major plus to a great experience in the Colorado high country.

Lake Isabelle Winter Hike Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

Our route took us away from the summer trail and across Long Lake’s northern shore. Long Lake is itself a beautiful destination, and fed also by the St Vrain Creek as it cascades down the mountain out of Lake Isabelle’s eastern outlet.

Following Long Lake to the this drainage point out of Lake Isabelle was indeed our route. The final ascent up the drainage is demanding, as it is typically a beautiful waterfall in the summer, though in winter resembles more of a narrow ski run, steep and well covered in pristine snow. Once we made the ridge, the peaks around the lake began to appear and our excitement grew.

Getting here can be a challenge in the winter, but the reward is overwhelming. Being in the presence of such a place is breathtaking. Pictures can do no justice, neither can our words, it just simply is an exhilarating alpine experience that has to be seen and explored to understand.

From this vantage point, if your able to turn away from the lake, you can see the entire route from which you came and be able to put it all into perspective.

St Vrain Creek Winter lake Isabelle Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

From the Isabelle Glacier, Lake Isabelle, the St Vrain Creek, down through the valley and into Long Lake, this is indeed why we hike, why we seek the solace of the high country and why we love sharing our experiences that others might be inspired to step out of their comfort zone and see it with their own eyes.

Being in the wild untamed wilderness has a way of reminding us of how beautiful the natural world is.

To see more photos of the Indian Peaks Wilderness visit the MAD Hippies Flickr page. We hope to see you on the trail 😀

Peace,

MAD

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Let it Snow!!!

Ascent to Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness
Ascent to Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness

Our excitement has been mounting lately as the weather in Colorado is beginning its seasonal change from long warm days to short, cold and snowy events. Not to worry, we’re ready for the snow and can’t wait to dust off the snowshoes.

After a quick moving storm dumped several inches of snow in the high country this past week we headed up the first chance we got to check out the conditions and see nature in its raw form. Blue Lake is in the Indian Peaks Wilderness at just over 11,000′ and offers spectacular mountain views. Unfortunately those views were put on hold for clouds, fog and snow squalls moving in unannounced…all the better!

This was just the sort of hike we needed to get our snow legs back on for the fast approaching winter hiking season. Indeed,  an amazing day full of all types of weather and trail conditions. See our latest outing photos on the MAD Facebook page, enjoy.

Peace,

MAD 🙂

Let it Snow!!!

MAD Hippies Life Blue Lake Indian Peaks Wilderness ColoradoOur excitement has been mounting lately as the weather in Colorado is beginning its seasonal change from long warm days to short, cold and snowy events. Not to worry, we’re ready for the snow and can’t wait to dust off the snowshoes.

After a quick moving storm dumped several inches of snow in the high country this past week we headed up the first chance we got to check out the conditions and see nature in its raw form. Blue Lake is in the Indian Peaks Wilderness at just over 11,000′ and offers spectacular mountain views. Unfortunately those views were put on hold for clouds, fog and snow squalls moving in unannounced…all the better!

This was just the sort of hike we needed to get our snow legs back on for the fast approaching winter hiking season. Indeed,  an amazing day full of all types of weather and trail conditions.

See more photos of our experiences

Peace,

MAD 🙂

MAD Hippies Life Diamond Lake Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

What Did You Say!?

MADHippiesLife.com
Bull Moose at Brainard Lake, CO

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just turned and asked someone “What did you say?”

Want more? Go here to keep up with all of our antics 🙂

Breakfast With Bullwinkle

MADHippiesLife.com
Brainard Lake, CO

A recent trip to one of out favorite hiking destinations hinted to us that fall was definitely in the air and winter is not that far off. While it’s no real surprise, as we are in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Region, it just seems that it should be early October instead of September. Our advise, stop looking at the calendar and keep your eye on nature. The wildlife is actively foraging, the leaves on the trees are turning, the high peaks are dusted with new snow and the cool morning air just seems to have that “here comes winter” smell.

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St Vrain Creek

Many people might be thinking about putting away their hiking boots and camping gear now that the seasons are turning, while we just get even more encouraged to hike on. Each season holds its own unique beauty and experience, fall and winter indeed can change the same old hike into a whole new adventure.  We highly recommend year round outdoor expeditions to grasp how nature changes with the seasons and holds secrets that otherwise go unseen in the deep of winter. Now is a great time to educate and equip yourself for cold weather hiking.

Moose at Brainard Lake
Moose at Brainard Lake

We just couldn’t stop thinking [and noticing] on this early morning at Brainard Lake that the seasons are indeed changing. The signs are there and it won’t be long before we strap on the snowshoes, bundle up and hit the trail, albeit buried in deep snow. We hope to see you on the trail, hike on! And yes, the moose are still out and about at Brainard Lake, every morning and evening they’re on the southwest side of the lake enjoying the plentiful vegetation, stop by some time and have breakfast with Bullwinkle…you’ll be glad you did!

Go here to see more pictures of this outing and keep up with all our adventures!

Peace,

MAD