INDIAN PEAKS WILDERNESS
CDT Day 116: 19 miles /30 km
CDT SOBO: Mile 1662.5 – 1681.5
Saturday August 10, 2019
It was a beautifully warm and very still night camping by Granby Lake. I had hoped for a starry night to take some photos but when I looked outside the tent a grey blanket hung over the lake. A warm air current hung nearby as we broke camp and headed off in the predawn light.
By the time we made it to Arapahoe Campground, about a mile and a half away, it was getting cooler. There was no wind and there was no visible sunrise.
We passed Arapahoe Ranch and made it to the gorgeous Monarch Lake for breakfast. What a magical and peaceful spot it was early in the morning. I was a little envious of the people sitting by the lake and fishing – enjoying the morning stillness with a cup of coffee, while we had to move on.
From the lake we started a 2,000 foot climb through the Indian Peaks Wilderness. And just as we started to go up the rain arrived. A low drizzle that just kept going. The forest in the rain looked lush and healthy. And the views of the mountain peaks around Monarch Lake opened up as we climbed.
By the time we reached the Indian Peaks Trailhead the rain had stopped. It was surprise to see so many cars and people about. Apparently the nearby Meadow Creek Reservoir is a very popular camping destination.
We stopped to have lunch at a picnic table by the Rangers station, which was being manned by volunteers Jim and Joyce. We were getting our lunch started when the rain returned. Joyce invited us undercover so we ended up cooking lunch inside the cabin. It was so generous of them, such lovely people. It was a most pleasant lunch break, learning a little about Joyce and Jim and their family. They live in Denver and volunteer here and also at Monarch Lake. Their daughter was an exchange student in Australia and they’ve had many trips since to visit her host family, with whom they’ve become close friends. It was so cosy in the cabin, I found it hard to leave on this grey drizzly day. But leave we did, hiking out through a swampy marsh before the trail started to rise again.
The rain did clear briefly in the afternoon, even the sun came out. We hiked through pine forest that looked quite elegant. It wasn’t long before we started another lung busting ascent this time climbing from 10,000 to 13,300 ft towards Rollins Pass and then onto James Peak summit. It was late afternoon by the time we approached the exposed ridge which leads to the summit. We knew we couldn’t get off the exposed ridge before it got dark. So we decided to stop short of the ridge and camp early while we still had some trees for protection.
And just as we started to set up camp, the rain returned. We had some protection from the wind but it was still very windy and cold. We were camped by a creek at 12,000 ft in elevation. I was so pleased we were not up on the ridge as a thunderstorm rolled in. We were grateful to be warm and dry and cacooned inside Big Agnes.