Arriving at the far end of Rocky Mountain at 4:30 a.m. was kind of crazy – traversing the all too familiar landscape in the pitch black of early morning commanded new respect for the park. For those who are unfamiliar with the park, Trail Ridge Road is the only way to access the Continental Divide at the far west end. This road is only open for a couple months during the summer and early fall, as winter conditions make the already extreme road more strenuous to traverse. This end of the park is much less generally populated – the trails even more isolated.
I decided not to start in the dark, but instead to stargaze and sleep. Once the sun peaked over the foothills of Poudre Lake I was among the trees, always a lovely start before facing open tundra. Alone with my thoughts and sounds of the morning, the tree line began to fade and panoramas open. It had been a while since I rose with the sun and gazed in wonderment as the sun’s pink-orange glow trickles down the mountain slopes. Since I had heard the squeaks of Pika and became enthralled with the muted colors of tundra. Since I had been slapped by the wind above the trees and felt the force of the Rockies.
The wind was so fierce it almost blew me over! Originally as a means to find reprise, I journeyed off trail to a grouping of rocks… when one of the most gorgeous valley views I have seen appeared! Breathtaking. I stayed around the spot to take it all in, meditate and indulge in a few hundred calories. As amazing as it was, I had a goal – to summit. Off I went in solitude to the summit and what a summit it was! “Boulder field” was an interesting traverse, but once through this sketchy patch the summit is so near!
What a climb and what a summit! I started at 6:00 a.m. and reached the peak at 8:30 a.m. – after some wandering, meditation and speaking to fellow hikers, I was back at the car around 9:45 a.m. While Mount Ida is only the 25th tallest peak in the park, it is a wonderful hike offering gorgeous views! One does not need to strain to hike a gorgeous trail, nor feel pressured to hike absurd terrain. I tend not to hike the same trail twice, yet when fall turns green aspens into flaming colors I will return to soak in the views all over again.