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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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MAD Hippies Life Indian Pekas Wilderness

Being in the Moment

This is our first entry into a new adventure of blogging about our experiences and adventures in the Colorado high country. We sure hope you’ll enjoy coming along with us. The following is just some thoughts that come to mind when we hit the trail. Certainly you’ve heard the question, “is it the journey or the destination?” and wondered to yourself if you could actually answer it. However, an often missed side of this debate is just stopping to be in the moment. We’re all on a journey, and at different times in our lives we’ll have a destination. But every once in a while it’s good to just stop and be in the moment.

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 [Long Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness]

 Deb and I often find ourselves coming across places on the trail that stop you dead in your tracks where you stand in awe. Sometimes it’s an incredible view of a mountain, sometimes a surreal forest that is so quiet you can hear your heartbeat, could be a flowing creek or even a majestic lake surrounded by all of the above. There’s an energy to such an environment that we believe to have healing properties, natures vibrations if you will, that penetrate deep within the soul and mind to ease the tensions of life.

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 [Trail to Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness]

I love walking the trail being quiet, just listening to nature and absorbing as much as I can before heading home. For me it’s a recharge of sorts, trying to bring myself back to center before returning to the weekly grind and all it’s challenges. When I first started hiking years ago I was always about getting to the destination, hell I couldn’t get out of the driveway fast enough and on the trail. Since those early years I’ve spent more time allowing for space and time which has afforded me the ability to discover more and how complex nature really is (in a good way).

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 [St Vrain Creek in the Indian Peaks Wilderness]

Let it flow, just breathe, relax…How many times have I heard that? I couldn’t even tell you who I heard it from, if it weren’t my own voice in my head 😉 telling me so. None the less, water along the trail in any form has a supreme calming affect. It’s no wonder people build homes on the edge of water sources just to have as a view. The sound soothes and the image calms.

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 [Shelf above Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness]

This life is indeed an epic journey, from birth to death and all points in between. We hope you’ll take time to relax, take it all in and enjoy the ride. Certainly we’ll all go through ups and downs whether we like it or not, having a cool head on your shoulder just makes it all the easier. Maybe one day I’ll master that…until then I keep plugging along and taking long walks to recharge, rethink and relax. Enjoy, maybe we’ll see you on the trail…

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 [Deb and me along the trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness]

Click here to see more photos of our hikes!