Hello mid-July. We’ve entered that glorious three month period in which the Rockies’ snow has mostly melted = hiking/backpacking free for all!! But this ALSO coincides with afternoon thunderstorm season. June was pretty great, leisurely hiking 14ers without worry. But come July = higher potential for electrocution. This past off-work weekend was thunderstorm heavy for much of the Colorado mountains, and I was tired and wanted a slower weekend, so a shorter backpacking trip to the Medicine Bow range it was!
I have wanted to backpack the Medicine Bow range for a while now [see Backpacker‘s description of the route]. It’s close to Denver and Google pictures of the Snowy Range made me jealous and worried I was missing out on something good, so it’s been on the list for a few years.
After a restful Friday and Saturday (aka me laying on the couch and doing nothing), we packed up Sunday morning and drove three hours to the the Lewis Lake trailhead. The day use fee at this trailhead was $5/day. NO. First, I’m
spoiled definitely not used to paying to backpack in a National Forest. And paying for a high use picnic area was not what we were doing (too kewl for that). Totally against paying nominal amounts to preserve our beautiful ‘Merica… just kidding, I love the parks/public lands and donating to them. But whatever picnic fee, we drove to the Brooklyn Lake trail head a few minutes away and paid $0 and felt super smug and crafty. Or that was just me, your average Scrooge.
Also, when we were trying to figure out the fees, mosquitoes were pouring into the open car windows and feasting on my cheapskate legs. Helpful hint: Wyoming has a lot of mosquitoes.
We started around 4 PM and backpacked in about 4ish miles. Those four miles were really pretty: heavy scented pine forests; fields of flowers in yellows, pinks, purples; and glittering alpine lakes whose only purpose seemed to be a glorious mirror for the craggy, rocky peaks above.
After 2 hours we arrived at a pretty alpine lake and Dan started fishing.
Within 20 minutes the wind picked up. No less than 10 minutes later the rain started. DANGIT. It was the kind of weather that prompts my hands and feet into numbness. So we scurried away to set up the tent and get our stuff out of the rain. The rain continued for a few hours, so we made the backpacking-experienced decision to cook a ramen noodle dinner in the tent. It WOULD have been a bean and rice and fish dinner if skies were clear and fish catching happened. But sometimes (way too often) ramen is the answer, and eating ramen in the sleeping bag was the obvious choice. That and sleeping with our food in the tent since I was convinced we didn’t need the bear canister. And there were no trees around to hang our food. If we were eaten by bears I hope it would have been our ticket onto the national news.
I read a hundred pages of Big Little Lies (on a chick lit kick that parallels my ramen kick) and fell into a non-restful, waking-every-hour sleep that is backpacking for insomniacs. Also, bringing a two pound library book was a choice made from of ten years of backpacking experience.
At 2 AM, in one of my startle-awake episodes in which I disoriented-ly ask Dan if I’ve been awake the entire time (his answer is always no), I took notice of his awake-and-reading-ness. Uh oh. I rolled over and entered into weird dream #4/10. Well, 8 AM rolled around and he tore off his sleeping bag in response to the hot alpine sun streaming through the tent. Apparently he slept ~4 hours between neck pain and the infernal hell that is a sun-warmed tent 🙁
In the morning I drank multiple cups of green tea and decaf coffee. Just trying to toe the line of caffeine and panic attack. I read another hundred pages in my addicting, appealing-to-only-middle-aged-women book and then we made our way to Medicine Bow Peak.
Within 20 minutes of de-summiting the sky turned black and thunder warned us of our mortality. Good thing I just told a group of seemingly newbies “it’s easy! Go for it!” They asked about the trail to the top, and I didn’t even consider the weather. Crap. Hopefully they survived my false sense of optimism.
We booked it back down to the car within two hours. The three hour drive back was filled by a new-to-me podcast, NPR’s “How I Built This“. It’s awesome! “Each episode is a narrative journey marked by triumphs, failures, serendipity and insight — told by the founders of some of the world’s best known companies and brands.”
Here are the ones we listened to, in descending order of enjoyment:
- Airbnb: Joe Gebbia – holy crap, this guy really went through some low points, and got real scrappy (example: making a politically-themed breakfast cereal to fund Airbnb), before meeting mega success.
- Real Estate Mogul: Barbara Corcoran – came from nothing, went on to own a giant Manhattan real estate company. Also, a great story teller
- Five Guys: Jerry Murrell – a down to earth guy who opened a tiny burger joint in Northern Virginia with his four sons, now has 1,000+ stores worldwide.
We relaxed and made a dinner of chicken + vegetable kabobs and roasted potatoes, consumed while watching our new favorite show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. A little late to the game, only really noticed when technology like phones and computers make appearances on the show.