Well, another GREAT day has been
spent in Rocky Mountain National Park. On this day, my friend, and
new hiking pal, Jesse Speer
and I finally decide to get out in the backcountry together. Our
destination was unclear until about 6:30 that morning, when we both
agreed that the Mt. Ida/Timber Lake Loop sounded like a winner.
Jesse had not done this great loop hike this year, and I had never
been to Timber Lake.
I was eager to get into the park
with my new camera. I recently purchased a Canon 10D, and couldn't
wait for our first "date." Although, I have to say, I'm
a little disappointed in myself after this outing. The pictures
didn't come out as well as I had hoped. My Canon S30 allowed me
to cheat, as it did a lot of the adjusting for me. My new camera
forces me to be a real photographer. But, that's part of the process.
Gives me another excuse to get out next week!
As we followed each other up Trail
Ridge Road, we stopped to get some pictures of a great sunrise.
Yeah, none of those came out well for me....I know Jesse had better
luck! After a few minutes there, we continued on to the Alpine Visitors
Center, where we attempted to stalk and photograph a large bull
Elk who had more interest in tearing up the Tundra with his antlers
than posing for our cameras.
We arrived at Milner Pass around
7:30, welcomed by a unusually still Poudre Lake. After a few shots
here, we started up the trail. Before we knew it, we were above
treeline, walking the large, broad, slopes of the Continental Divide
toward our first destination, Mt. Ida (12,880 feet). I spent this
time fumbling around with my new camera, awkwardly. I played with
different settings, and just experimented a bit.
Other than the amazing scenery, and
meeting a few people on the trail, the hike was fairly uneventful
until we got below the main rise to the summit. Here we spotted,
almost stepping on, a Ptarmigan Farm. There is really no other way
to describe it. This was, by far, the largest flock of Ptarmigan
I have ever seen. We spent about twenty minutes taking pictures
of this group. It was here that we met Eric and Dino (not sure how
to spell that one). These were two mountain lovers out enjoying
this perfect day. And it was Dinos first time to get that high in
elevation...congrats!!! We stopped and talked with them for a few
minutes, and continued up toward the summit.
The summit was as perfect as it always
is. There are great views into the Gorge Lakes, and unique views
of other summits in the park. We hung out on the summit for a while,
talked with our new friends, and filled our stomachs with delicious
After our rest, we continued down
the steep South slope of Ida, toward Timber Lake. This slope reminded
me of descending from Mt. Alice toward Boulder Grand Pass. Very
similar. We took our time, taking many photo breaks (I'm assuming
Jesse had better luck than I did on this stretch). Once at the saddle
below Ida, we spotted about six Bighorn Sheep, all Ewes and Lambs.
Again, miserable failure with the camera. But the animals were strongly
back lit, so that makes me stop kicking myself AS hard.
We worked our way down the series
of shelves to Timber Lake. This is in one of the most beautiful
settings in the park. Jesse and I both commented on how peaceful
this spot seemed to be. More-so than other destinations in the Park.
And if this spot couldn't be anymore special, we spotted a Golden
Eagle flying high above the lake along the cliff edges, just riding
the breeze. How perfect!
We spent some time taking pictures
of the lake and surrounding scenery, then headed back down the trail.
We tried to call the elusive Sasquatch, but had no luck. Only a
few tree squirrels took note of our horrific Yeti calls by letting
us know we were unwanted. One fearless little beast even stared
Jesse down for over a minute in his attempt to show us who was boss
of those woods. Defeated, we moved on through the erie stretch of
forest. Here is where the trail turns North...one more mile to go!
It was a pleasant trail, with a lot
of downed timber, a few Mule Deer watching us pass, and the gentle
light of a setting sun. Here is where the trail turns North...one
more mile to go!
We stopped and snapped some photos
of a nice stand of trees before continuing on. Here is where the
trail turns North...one more mile to go!!!!
Here is where the trail turns North...one
more mile to go!!!
FINALLY! We reach the trailhead,
greeted by a large bull Elk swiftly retreating into the dense forest.
What a day...sunrise to sunset..the way I like it!
We hopped in my car and I drove Jesse
to his car at Milner Pass, then we headed back over Trail Ridge.
With the head lights on, I descend into the Estes Valley, and home......
Take a look at Jesse's Site! It's
Round Trip: about 11 miles
Elevation Gain from Milner Pass to Mt. Ida: 2,130 feet
Elevation Loss from Ida to the Timber Lake Trailhead: 3,880 feet.