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

To Summit Mt. Ida–Part 3

September 26, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 


The trail becomes quite faint at this point, and all but disappears in some spots. We follow the rock cairns some thoughtful souls have erected to help show us the shortest distance to the top, but for the most point, from here on, we are scrambling over large boulders, many of which require the use of both hands and feet to get over. This makes it awkward to carry my new trekking poles but as we hike on, I figure out a system to accommodate both poles and boulders.

We must also be careful in many spots to hop from rock to rock or boulder to boulder to avoid crushing the fragile tundra vegetation as we pass by. It can take as many as 100 years for one of these plants to achieve an inch of growth. We could all but demolish several centuries of achievement if we are not careful in our climb, though it would be much easier to just plow through the plants as some hikers are doing than to take care to avoid them. Finally we push up a steeper boulder field and reach the summit of Mt. Ida at 12,880 feet. It is 11:05 am.

Relaxing at the summit

Ryan, Terry and Jake relaxing at the summit

From here we can see a number of other peaks, including Chief Cheley Peak, Cracktop, Mount Julian and Terra Tomah Mountain, as well as the shimmering waters of the Gorge lakes drainage down below. We slough off our packs and settle in to celebrate the fact that we have gained 2000 feet in elevation. We spend about 40 minutes relaxing in the sunshine atop the mountain, dozing a bit and munching the snacks we have brought with us.

Summit handstand

Ryan's summit handstand

Feeling revived, we snap a few photos of the spectacular views as Ryan does his traditional summit handstand. We begin our descent at 11:45 am. The hike down is beautiful, though largely uneventful. We are disappointed that we see no wildlife. The “boys” have taken off quickly, leaving us in their wake and we know we will not see them until we reach the trailhead. Climbing and scrambling down over the boulder fields and avoiding the precious tundra vegetation is even more difficult on the way down, but all four of us are committed to spare as many plants as we can. Again we notice other hikers making faster progress but leaving trails of damage in their wake. We feel good about our efforts to help preserve the tundra.

On the way down

On the way down

We reach the trailhead at 3:05 pm. Ryan and Jake have been there for a mere 15 minutes. Not bad for two of us “over 50 year olds.” The best part is that we are feeling great, suffering no ill effects of altitude sickness. Given how much of a concern this was for me, and the fact that it led to this change in our plans, I am very pleased. It is Ryan, our 18 year old, who was pushing for us to climb Borah Peak regardless of altitude problems, who reports a slight headache. But as we head back to our campground and he is getting re-hydrated, this disappears as well. But it confirmed my concern and the decision to alter our plans for this summer.

It is a good day. We are all well and have seen and experienced some of the most spectacular scenery in this country!

Read more about Colorado camping and things to do in Colorado.

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