Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hiking Mount Ida

On the second full day of our Rocky Mountain National Park trip, I got to do a day hike with Mima and Boppie while Joker had fun with the kids.  They wanted to do a hike on the other side of Trail Ridge Road, something they rarely get to do.  Destination for the day: the summit of Mount Ida at 12,880 feet.  I've actually never been on top of a mountain, and if I'd seen what I was in for, I may very well have chickened out.  (It's the one with the snow circle in the center of the picture below.)

Mt. Ida, far and center... looks pretty intimidating, right?
From the start, this hike was nothing short of spectacular.  It started out very steeply, quickly rising through the trees and reaching timberline.  Most of the hike was above timberline, through beautiful tundra with sweeping views of the Never Summer Range.  The wildflowers were gorgeous.  Even while hiking across the ridge you can see above (right of the summit), it was slow going: steep and riddled with boulders.

First open view on the way up

About 3 1/2 hours later, we were at the summit.  It overlooks the beautiful Azure Lake and Inkwell Lake, and the 360-degree views are phenomenal.  Never Summer behind us; Longs Peak to the right... and what a thrill to be right there on top, eating my PB&J next to a marmot.
Inkwell Lake and Azure Lake, from the summit of Mt. Ida

On the way down we saw a herd of bighorn sheep - all rams - closer than you'd imagine.  We saw numerous marmots and pikas, all of which are hilarious.  And the steep hike down was nearly as challenging as the hike up! 

Dead center - look close - is that an awesome ram or what?
We were completely exhausted and thoroughly happy when we took off our boots and enjoyed a beer by a picturesque lake near the trailhead. And on the drive back to the house, we saw several elk, including a huge bull that was so close we could see him chomping on grass.
What a view for a refreshing beer!

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