Best Laid Plans
This long weekend I wanted to get out, originally I wanted to visit to Gunnison where we’d enjoy ourselves but we just couldn’t find a rental we liked for us, our small son, and our two setters. It’s a doable day trip, but with the little guy so young we’d need to stop for a feeding break half way through any drive. So staycation it is!
I’m a restless soul, and once caffeinated I just can’t sit still for long when there’s wilderness to be explored. My wife was coming off of her 12 weeks of maternity leave and wanted to get out as well.
We made sure to pile into the truck early and we headed up to Indian Peaks Wilderness Area just outside of Nederland, CO. I’d done this hike before, but it was just the thing we needed to stretch the legs and get off the couch. In a mile total, gain and lose 339 feet. Childs play, except for all the rocks on the trail, and strapping a baby to your chest, and a packed parking lot. On a holiday weekend.
Follow the Path More Traveled
The trailhead surprisingly had one spot left when we pulled in a little after 0900. It was a little later than I wanted, but we have to shoot the gap between feedings with my little boy.
Once Henry was fed we prepped and were off! The trail itself is somewhat short, but the rocks are killer on the ankles and knees — and the elevation hits you if you’re not used to it. It’s a steady climb through the pine forest studded in mushrooms — though this weekend quite dry outside of the lakes.
I’ll have to look in some more depth, but for the life of me I can’t find a map that names the seven Rainbow Lakes. Are they named left to right as ROY G BIV? I don’t know, and neither do pretty much all of my maps on hand. Nevertheless we saw several anglers coming back down the trail having been successful on the trout I saw feeding there last summer.
This was my boy’s first Wilderness Area, and though he may be too young to remember it I can only hope it won’t be his last.
We saw plenty of people out and about. I’ve always wanted to grouse hunt the IPWA but the amount of traffic the area sees, even off trail has lead me to believe I need to check out another access point.
The trail ends quickly, between two of the final lakes there’s a rock outcropping where you can admire trout surfacing to feed on flies — or, I’m told the occasional moose. Arapahoe Glacier sits on the mountainside, slowly melting and moving. If you want the area all to yourself though you’ll have to come early, and on a weekday — it’s the closest designated Wilderness Area to a large city.
After the hike and the exhausting ride back dodging pedestrians, mountain bikers, potholes, and high speed “offroaders” in their sedans it was time for some grub. The James Peak Brewery and Smoke House on East First Street in Nederland, CO delivered. They had Bell’s Two-Hearted on tap, and had more smoked meat products than you can shake a trekking pole at! In hindsight we might have missed the boat, the smoked wings looked and smelled amazing.
|Why am I doing this? I’m on a quest to hike, camp, hunt, or fish on all of Colorado’s federally designated Wilderness Areas. Check out all the articles here!|