Jeff and I were considering going backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo mountains last weekend, but the report from the forest service worker at the Wescliffe Work Center said that there was still quite a bit of snow up there. So, we changed plans and instead drove up to the Rabbit Ears Pass area between Kremling and Steamboat Springs on Friday evening. I hadn’t been in there before so we spent a couple of days hiking and camping.
We arrived around 10PM and camped in a large open area near Newcomb Creek. We setup our tents, discussed some plans for the following day and went to bed. The following morning we packed up, made the short drive over to the Newcomb Creek trailhead and headed out.
With all of the snow and rain this spring, the grasses were tall and the mosquitoes were numerous. It seems like it might be a decent area to backpack, given the lakes a couple miles further down the trail towards the Continental Divide.
The creek was clear and cool, but we didn’t see any fish swimming.
We explored the Whalen Creek area and a few others before heading south towards Rabbit Ears Peak on FR620. As seems typical for this time of year, enormous clouds blossomed in the early afternoon and shortly later thunder storms rolled through.
We drove up to Percy Lake trailhead and hiked for 30 minutes or so, but decided the trek to the lake would take too long and, it was hot again and, I forgot the mosquito repellent in the truck. Arrrrggh! I already applied it twice this day. Still not enough!
We returned and then drove on and parked at the gate of an old logging road and headed towards the peak. About 10 minutes after we set out it began to hail. The hail was pea-sized and short-lived, and given that I left the rain jacket in my pack, it only stung a little when it hit my arms. It made for cool, comfortable walking.
We got a lot closer to the peak.
And the clouds made for a nice contrast.
After we returned to the truck we drove until we found a nice place to camp. Even though the hiking was a moderate difficulty and about 10 miles, all-in-all, we were still plenty tired. Chicken fajitas for dinner, and a beer . . . or two, and then it was off to bed. The moon was very bright, but I was still able to sleep comfortably.
In the morning I made one of my favorites . . . .
After we packed up, we hiked for an hour on a trail nearby, and then drove back north on FR20 stopping in at Hidden Lakes campground to take a quick look around. Seemed like a nice peaceful set of campsites with the lake only 100 yards from the sites. I still had the kayak and canoe rack atop the truck . . . should have brought the kayak. Ooops.. We went for one more hike a couple miles north before stopping for lunch next to a creek and under the shade of some trees.
The ride home went smoothly until we crossed through the Eisenhower, actually Johnson tunnel. On the downhill side, heading east, maybe 2 miles from the pass we encountered traffic . . . lots of it. We weren’t simply at a crawl, but a stop. For the next 90 minutes it was stop and go. Eventually, it cleared and we sailed the rest of the way home.
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