Colorado Trip

Ice Lake Basin Colorado tent camping

Photo: Night descends on camp at Ice Lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado.  June 2012

For the last couple weeks of June I was on a little road trip to Colorado.  Other than 1 afternoon about 15 years ago, this was my first time there.  It’s pretty far away from here in California and there is a lot of ‘nothing’ to pass through on the journey to get there, but I really wish I’d made a few journeys before this as it will probably be quite a few years before I ever get back there again.

For the most part we stayed in the southwest in the area of the San Juan mountains.  We managed hikes up 3 14ers (Handies, Elbert, and Sneffels) and a night camping at Ice Lake basin which is an absolutely amazing spot and reminds me of the Alps quite a bit.  All in all, the Colorado mountains are much more green and lush that what we have here in the Sierra Nevada in California where it is basically just rock once you get above the tree line.  Flipping through the guidebooks I picked up, I was a bit overwhelmed as to what to do.  There are just so many mountains and trails!  It seems the choice here in California is a bit easier as you either enter the mountains from the west, or more typically for me, from the east.  But Colorado has so many roads, so many peaks in every direction, and having no idea of what to actually do, it was a bit difficult to focus in and make a choice.  I probably wasted a few days here and there, but overall it was a fun trip.

Conditions wise we were a bit lucky and unlucky.  Due to an abnormally dry winter, ever local I ran into up in the mountains said the late June conditions looked more like early August in typical years.  The made access to the mountains quite easy and my feet hardly touched any snow.  Temperatures where hot!  I cursed the sun anytime I was below 10,000 feet.  Even in the early mornings on the way up the mountains I was often in a t-shirt, and sweating thoroughly in the hot sun on the way back down.  Though miraculously enough, I managed the whole trip without a sunburn.

The tragic fires were all the news while we where there.  On a few days the sky and valleys filled with smoke when the wind changed directions, but for the most part we wouldn’t have been aware there were any fires.

And Aspen in summer sucks, wasn’t even worth a few hours.  Not sure what all the rage is about.  But that’s generally my opinion of most ski towns.

I’ll make a few more post in the following days/week with more photos about each hike.  But this is pretty much the only road/photo trip I’ll be making stateside this year. For the past months I was too poor to get very far from the house, even resorted to selling off a bunch backpacking/camera gear on craigslist so I could at least eat some decent food and cover some bills.  Luckily I’ve now found a job that will keep me super busy for the next weeks and then hopefully I’ll be back on the Lofoten Islands by mid August.

San Juan mountains backpacking Colorado

Photo: Waiting for the rain, Ice Lake Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado.  June 2012


Summit of Handies Peak Colorado 14er

Photo: Summit of Handies Peak, Our first Colorado 14er.  June 2012


Colorado mountain storm San Juans

Photo: Dark skies and distant thunder on the way up Mt. Sneffels, Colorado.  June 2012


Colorado mountain landscape Ophir Pass

Photo: Last light from Ophir Pass, San Juan Mountains, Colorado.  June 2012


Travel map

Photo: Lots of miles on my truck, time for an oil change…

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