Tuesday, May 19, 2009


One of our favorite activities that we haven't really done for whatever reason is backpacking in the backcountry. We can technically go out for 5 days without resupply.

We went out to Hillsborough River last Memorial Day weekend...hardly the alpine forests and mountains that we really need to see.

This is the story of my first time out, and the things i learned from that trip.

i once had a friend who used to fly all over the place to see bands. So i figured she might meet me in Denver for a 4 day backpacking trip at Rocky Mountain National Park. Found a flight from here to there for a good price and booked it, only to find out that my friend backed out. Undeterred, i forged on, found a shuttle service to take me from Denver airport to Estes Park area....frickin' thing cost more than my flight and of course, the driver thought i was crazy doing this on my own....and had no hotels involved.....the rangers were concerned as well but checked out my permit and copied my expected itinerary and pointed me to the trail head.....it was drizzling.

The humorous part when looking back is some of the things that i packed and didn't use like a hatchet, too much clothing, tools, MP3 player ect..... my pack weighed in at a whopping 52 lbs....(it's refreshing to know that when i go now, the pack only weighs in at 33 lbs).

i was amazed the first time that i actually looked over the ridge and into the valley that i was hiking along....i took it easy the first day because the altitude was kicking my ass, i had a screaming headache and i was experiencing different weather patterns as the altitude increased/decreased....the first big elevation gain was around 900 feet in little less than 1/4 mile....tough but manageable. (little did i know that this one was just a baby).

i'm not sure how far i went that first day....but i arrived at the first campsite an hour before "official sunset", but little did i know that it starts getting dark when the sun goes behind the mountains....also, when i went for water the first time, i had found that the button on my purifier (MSR MIOX) had gotten pressed continually in my pack and the battery was dead. Good thing i had spares or i would have been in trouble that soon into a 4 day trip....Had a nice meal of Backpackers Pantry....purified water for the following day, listened to some horny elk trumpeting like a T-Rex (this is spooky) and watched the stars. It was an incredible experience to see the jet black sky and so many stars that it felt like being in space. Outside of the elk bellowing from time to time, it was the first time that i experienced "the silence" ( the deafening silence where the crunching leaves of your footfalls make your ears ring). and have only been close to it a few times since then....the all enveloping silence....like a grave or a mothers hug.

The next day, i awoke early (time zone in my favor), fixed some backpackers pantry granola cereal (they call it something else....it's good but expensive) and walked along the shore of the pond next to Flattop Mountain, took some photos of the fog/clouds spilling over the side of the mountain and across the pond, got my bearings, and headed south east towards Hallet Peak and Timberline Falls a few miles away....

The only other thing of note that happened on this trip was on day 2, there was a newly fallen tree blocking the trail along the ridge line and the only way around was going around it on the forest side, or going around it on the ridge line side....so stupid me chooses to hang my ass over the side of the mountain to go around the tree and proceed to fall down the shale and granite mountain side about 40 feet. Didn't break anything but ripped my pants and my knee really good. Found out then that my cell phone didn't work. Would have been there another 2 days before i was listed as overdue....but i had all of my gear with me so i would have been ok to lay there with broken legs for a few days....eh?

Covered close to 70 miles in those 4 days....made it back to the rangers station before the shuttle arrived to pick me up....flew home.....never felt better to take a shower when i arrived home.

Wish we could find a place to hike like that and end up in the Keys fly fishing.......


  1. did u watch that fly fishing colorado dvd i gave u yet? lots of backpacking to gorgeous, secluded fly fishing spots n colorado and new mexico. n fact, we've got an extra bed/bath here n el paso for "basecamp." and backpacking and fishing the gila wilderness is what i'll b up to most of the summer.

  2. Yes....that video was really cool! Thanks! Since Mama and i are moving to more affordable digs, we'll be able to afford to do that sort of thing now.

  3. wilma and i did that n 2006: trimmed the lifestyle so that we could DO more of what we wanted to do instead of HAVING the STUFF we thought we wanted to HAVE. best decision we ever made! u can fly from tampa to el paso for $99/person if u book about a month in advance. probably the same to denver, albuquerque, etc. federation of fly fishers national conclave is in loveland, co, end of july. tons of great fishing right there! and fff conclave is an incredible experience.