Wilson’s Peak

Our first backpacking trip, and I hate to say it… but it kicked our butts! Wilson’s Peak is in the Lizard Head Wilderness of the Uncompahgre National Forest. It is the highest point in San Miguel County reaching up to a little over 14,000 feet! Due to it’s elevation it is listed as one of the “Fourteeners.” We decided it was a great starting point for rookies. We had our awesome new packs loaded with our food, tent and a couple extra items of clothing (including rain jackets; always always always have a rain cover for your pack and a rain jacket for yourself because it’s miserable to hike when all your stuff is wet and you’re cold).

Day 1- The Tent

There was a group of four of us and we all met up in a happening town called Telluride. There were plenty of people there, due to the film festival going on. We decided to stage one of the cars at the point of the trail where we would end, and packed up everything from that car into Jef’s truck. While we were unloading everything from our car into Jef’s I had forgotten that for some odd reason I can’t explain I’d left the tent rolled up on Jef’s bumper. I guess I was trying to unload everything at once and got a little too ambitious. Anyways, we took off thinking we had everything and made the long drive to the beginning of the trailhead called the Rock of Ages.

Now, the road to the end of the trailhead starts out okay, turns into a dirt road, and then becomes something I wouldn’t consider road, it’s more holes and cliff than road so if you’re considering driving to the end to stage a car make sure it’s something that can handle that type of thing. I’m sure that as soon as we started driving in Jef’s truck on this road that the tent went flying off the bumper in the first couple of minutes of his maniac driving.

When we met up with our friend Kerri we then left Jef’s truck and packed up everything into hers. (A bit of a complicated plan, I know). It was then we came to the realization that the tent was gone. To my embarrassment I realized quickly where it might possibly be, and that we had a big problem. We didn’t want to lose more time and light to drive all the way back down that crappy road to search for the tent wherever it may have fallen off and drive all the way back the whole process most likely taking a couple of hours and it was already reaching noon. Jef had brought his tiny two-man tent just in case we needed two tents and we considered the possibility of all of us using that tent. We decided to bring his little tent and tough it out, and I volunteered to sleep outside since I was responsible for our predicament. Of course Pablo wasn’t going to let that happen, but I tried.

IMGP0543Off we went to our first backpacking adventure! We drove Kerri’s car through yet another rough road (it’s Colorado, they have rough roads) and parked at the Rock of Ages Trailhead ready to begin the 4.6 hike for the day. For the first hour I was starting to feel the 18 pound pack on my back and wondering if we were there yet, then it began to rain. When it continued to rain harder we decided to take a rest under some trees and wait it out. We waited long enough for it to stop raining enough and began hiking again.

After about 5 hours we had ran into only a couple other groups doing some day hiking and had terrained some rocky inclined areas. I was feeling worn out and it was time for us to find a spot to settle for the night. To our disappointment we kept seeing signs that told us we were on someone’s property and could not camp. We trudged on until we found a spot just outside of his property with a flowing water supply, flat grassland perfect to pitch a tent and gladly took off our packs. Jef decided to walk over and take a dump on the guy’s property just to let him know how he felt about it.

IMGP0564For our backpacking Pablo had found an Emberlite Stove that is a four walled aluminum stove that folds up for easy packing and is super light. The only problem was finding dry wood with all the rain we had been having. We all searched for wood and began to cook our soup dinner. After dinner and some hot coco we started to set up tent, the part I was somewhat dreading but I was looking forward to sleeping so much I didn’t care. We actually attempted to play cards, but that was obviously not happening in the cramped space. We decided to attempt to fall asleep, all of us having to lay on our sides with no space to move. It was a rough night, and I’m not sure how much sleep any of us really had.

Day 2- Wilson’s Peak and Please, No More Rain!

After a sleepless night we were all still tired when we started off at the butt crack of dawn. My shoulders felt raw already from the pack, and I tried to avoid looking up at the peak we had to climb to. After about 2 hours of hiking (I really tried not to keep track of time) we had reached the saddle. We left our packs at the saddle before scaling another 45 minutes to the peak to get a better view, and man it was worth the hike for that view!

IMGP0583Of course as we were coming back from the peak and were scaling some rock it started to sprinkle. We ate lunch and then Kerri had to part from the group and hiked back the Rock of Ages on her own. We began our hike down the 8.5 mile Navajo Basin Trail.

IMGP0618Pablo had just gotten knee surgery earlier in the year so the hike down was a lot harder for him, especially with the rain making everything slick. When we first started to descend from Wilson’s Peak it started to drizzle. We tried hurrying before it picked up anymore to some cover but got caught in the gorge as the rain started to really pound on us. We grabbed the tent cover from Jef’s pack, draped it over all of us and sat next to a large rock which was the best cover we had in the open space. We waited about 20 minutes for it to let up, which caused a lot of stiff muscles and we hadn’t managed to stay dry very well. Even though it was a bit miserable, the view as the clouds cleared was amazing. We could see the small lake and cover of trees where we were planning to set up camp about half a mile away.

We set up camp at the Navajo Lake and I was very tempted to jump in the water, but it was too cold for that. We boiled water for our dehydrated meals and relaxed. We had eaten a lot of our snacks and food since we had burned off thousands of calories in the past 2 days. That night in the tent was not as bad considering we were only 3 people in a 2 man tent, and we all managed to get some sleep.

Day 3- The Meadow and the Return of the Tent!

Our last day of backpacking included going through a wide and long meadow area. After waiting for yet another rain storm (followed by alarming thunder) we had come out of the area of trees we had been hiking in for the first hour to a beautiful, yet muddy meadow. It was a nice flat hiking area that my legs were much appreciative for.

As we approached the very end of our humbling journey I saw the most beautiful sight of all throughout the whole trip, our tent! I recognized it rolled up sitting on a rock by all of the cars. I couldn’t believe someone had actually picked it up and placed it out in the open hoping that it’s owner would find it!

When we came back from our backpacking trip a day early on our long Labor Day weekend we decided to stop at a sandwich shop in Telluride to fuel up and walk through the shops. We took a ride on the gondola which provided a beautiful outlook on the whole town and it reminded me of a bigger Park City.

Check out the map below for the points of interest and click here to see our pictures!

Dani

There are too many places and experiences out there for a person to know them all, but I figured why not give it a try? Travel has become an addiction and I'm here to share it with you. If you want to distract me, put a soccer ball at my feet, a sunset in my sights and the ocean splashing my toes. In a nutshell, this is me.

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