Click on the pictures!

Rocks in the sky?..or VERY calm water?

Jesse walking along the Continental Divide toward Mt. Ida.

What a view! This is taken just below Ida.

A Ptarmigan beginning to change to its Winter plumage.

Notice the feathered feet.

Taken just below the summit of Mt. Ida.

Jesse approaches the summit, at 12,880 feet.

Jesse standing high above Azure Lake of the beautifully remote Gorge Lakes. From the summit of Ida.

Descending the steep South slope of Ida toward Timber Lake.

Jesse on a ridge overlooking Timber Lake.

Jesse at the office!

Timber Lake. We descended from the ridge in the distance.

Mt. Ida & Timber Lake

September 27 , 2003

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 pistachios.

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 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 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 more mile to go!!!!

Here is where the trail turns 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 just incredible.

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.


Summit Post is the best site on the Internet for mountain information. There is a great community here...check them out!