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This first group of photos are from climbing up Caribou Pass, one of the four passes over the Continental Divide in the Indian Peaks, from the Fourth of July trailhead. None of the passes are suitable for cars, ATV's, SUV's, ORV's, or anything else besides tired feet in heavy-duty boots (the 3rd photo in the 1st row is a good one of the very rocky trail). This particular pass reaches 12,000 feet (2.3 miles) above sea level.
In these pics we're on the top of the pass, crossing the Continental Divide. Our destination, Caribou Lake, can be seen roughly 800 feet below the pass in some of these photos. Sarah and I camped on the northern side of the lake (the side farthest away in these photos). Look for tiny hikers in the second photo to get an idea of the scale of the landscape.
Here are some photos taken in and around our campsite. Several of these photos turned out well. In particular, I like the colorized photo of Mount George (12,876 ft), Apache and Navajo Peaks (13,441 ft & 13,409 ft) (top left), the photo taken while looking out the door of the tent (top row, 2nd photo), a view of Apache and Navajo Peaks through the trees (top row, 4th photo), and the view of the same peaks from the shore of Caribou Lake (2nd row, 1st photo).
The first time I went hiking in the Indian Peaks was a day hike to Lake Isabelle, just east of the Continental Divide. In this photo (taken in late June) Apache and Navajo Peaks can be seen from the east, instead of the west. They're in the very back and the big slab of rock that covers them (front and center) is Shoshoni Peak (12,967 ft.).
Climbing back over the pass to head home. The first photo in this sequence shows part of the switchbacks we climbed for 45 minutes on Sunday morning to go from Caribou Lake back to the top of the pass (you can see a guy and his dog following us up). Climbing at high elevation with a pack on is a good test of endurance. A few dozen pounds on your back makes a huge difference sometimes.
Backpacker magazine: "Bag three peaks and bird's-eye views of Boulder on this tour of the Flatirons. Bring a few extra energy bars: This strenuous out-and-back gains over 5,000 feet in 11 miles."
1 (Mile 0): Start half-way up Flagstaff Rd where there's a road branching off to the right and left, a parking area on the left, and a gate blocking part of the road to the left. Head south down the dirt road, going right through the gate.
2 (Mile .2): R @ 3-way junction with Long Canyon Trail.
3 (Mile .4): L @ Y on Ranger Trail; old stone cabin with picnic benches.
4 (Mile .8): R @ Y on Ranger Trail at junction with Greenman Trail.
5 (Mile 1.4): First views of Boulder from open ridge.
6 (Mile 1.7): L @ 4-way; climb sharply to Green Mtn. summit.
7 (Mile 1.9): Views of Longs Peak and 20 other giants from Green Mtn. (8,053 ft.); check out peak finder atop summit log cairn; return to 4-way, go L onto Green Bear Trail.
8 (Mile 3): R @ 3-way onto Bear Peak West Ridge Trail; only water on route.
9 (Mile 4.9): L @ T for short, steep climb to Bear Peak.
10 (Mile 5): Summit of Bear Peak (8,461 ft.); views of Denver and Rocky Mtn. NP; return to waypoint 9, go L.
11 (Mile 5.5): Straight @ 3-way junction with Shadow Canyon Trail.
12 (Mile 5.8): South Boulder Peak (8,549 ft.); most dramatic and quietest summit; lots of raspberries; retrace route to car.
Sarah and I spent another weekend backpacking in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It's only 30 minutes west of Boulder, but because we started on the west side of the wilderness area we had to drive two and a half hours (on the highest continuous road in the US) to get there. We started in Arapaho Bay, along the Continental Divide Trail, and hiked towards Stone Lake, an isolated lake close to the southern boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park. We didn't see anyone else for over a day.