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Filed under: Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, State & National Parks

To Summit Mt. Ida–Part 1

September 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

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As stated in a previous post, we decided to climb to the summit of Mt. Ida, at 12, 888 feet above sea level, during our summer visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. As is our custom before any challenging hike, we headed out the night before to check out the trailhead. Setting out from our campsite at Glacier Basin Campground, we endured the lengthy journey through the park, and all of the road construction that entailed, to the Milner Creek Trailhead of the Continental Divide Trail from which we would depart as soon as we could arrive in the morning. Again it was important to get an early start to avoid the lightening storms that are prevalent in the mountains any time after noon. Road construction and flagmen ensured that the approximately 20 mile journey took over an hour so we knew we were in for an early start the next morning.

Milner Pass Trailhead, RMNP

Milner Pass Trailhead, RMNP

We familiarized ourselves with the trailhead and, thankfully, were quickly able to determine the direction we would take the next day, as there were a number of trails departing from that site. It would be easy to get confused and take the wrong path in the busyness and confusion of an early morning. We snap a few photos, admire Cache la Poudre Lake and the Spires, a spectacular geological formation of rock spires at the beginning of the trail, before heading back to our campsite for an early night.

Milner Pass Trailhead, RMNP

Milner Pass Trailhead, RMNP

The next day we rise early and head out, munching granola bars for breakfast and packing the trail mix, Clif’s Shot Bloks (electrolyte replacements that are a gift on any hike or endurance activity) and water we will take to sustain us on our quest. We have learned it is important not to eat a heavy breakfast before setting out, but to bring food along for when our energy wanes en route.

We leave our campsite at 6:28 am and arrive at the Milner Pass Continental Divide Trailhead, elevation 10, 750 feet at 7:32 am.  It is 49 degrees at this time and elevation so we are happy to have our fleece jackets with us even though it is July 16th.  I discovered this morning that the bladder for my brand new camel pack is leaking so the bottom of my fleece top is wet and I have to make alternate arrangements for my water supplies. I grab four of the bottles we have brought along in a cooler for after the hike, replacing them in the cooler with the leaking bladder. It will do less damage in there and will stay cool to refresh us upon our return. We have learned how important it is to carry sufficient water for any hike in a warm or dry climate, especially at such an elevation with such uncertain conditions. Another safety necessity!

Mount Ida TrailTerry and I use the restroom, not wanting to have to make emergent arrangements along the trail, while Ryan prepares for the trip. When we return to the car, we learn he has acquired a companion for us on our journey. Jake Rodgers is a journalist for a newspaper in Colorado Springs who is also planning to hike this morning. He was looking for company as he had no map of the trail and had never hiked it before. We eagerly accept him into our group and we head out at 7:45 am. I am still a bit anxious about the altitude, but after a few out of breath moments during the first mile, and remembering to let the “young ones” head out ahead of us, we relaxed our pace a bit and did just fine. To be continued…

For more information Colorado camping vacations,  check out Colorado camping and things to do in Colorado.

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