To The Peaks Less Traveled

Fall is, hands down, my favorite time of the year to backpack.

I love the blazing aspen, the sound of elks bugling and that wonderful crisp, cool and bracing night air. The stars above are so clear at night and the vistas seem just a tad sharper.

As such, I want to get out every weekend I can once Fall hits the high country. If I am home even one weekend during this time of the year I become (as someone puts it) a little bit of the grumpster. I just don't want to be outside…I feel the need to be outside.

Living in CO, one on my hardest choices is WHERE to backpack.

So many peaks I want to see, wildernesses to tramp, valleys to amble in. Every weekend is precious. Every weekend is a time where I want to be out for more and more.

This past weekend, my good buddy d-low and I did another off-trail jaunt in the Mt. Evans wilderness. As one website put it, it may only be 30 miles from Denver..but it is a world away. And being d-low and I, we decided to do a (mainly) off-trail hike. A climb to the obscure and seldom visited Gray Wolf Mtn with its amazing views of the Continental Divide, a trailess ridge walk into a valley with aspen at its peak, some 'schwacking and ending it all by following an old 'ghost' trail that changed into some more 'schwacking.

At ~5000' gain and 15 miles, it was a short, sweet and stiff little backpack.

The day started off by following the Hells Hole Trail to an unnamed tarn. At one high point we saw our destination for the following day…

As we settled in for the evening, the moon and alpenglow made for a sight to remember.

We talked into the night. The box of Malbec probably helped….

The following morning, we climbed steeply to the ridge and made our way up and around to the summit. I kept on looking back to not only the Continental Divide, but also to the nearby 14ers of Grays, Torreys and Bierstadt.

On this beautiful Fall day, we had the ridge and the summit to ourselves. Across the way? Could only imagine how many people were along the trails and peaks!!!

After enjoying the summit, we made our way down the ridge and into the valley below….

We crossed into the trees, picked up an old trail and made our way to an old road. The aspens turned the road in a golden tunnel.

Soon our old road ended and we followed a 'ghost trail' that eventually petered out. A little map and compass work and we soon made it back to my truck.

A fine Fall weekend.

And next week? Another backpack….

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