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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

High Lonesome Trail

July 20th, 2009 · No Comments

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Today I made a long drive of 190 miles for a short hike of 3 miles. But the trip gave me the chance to see some high country and hike a trail that I have wanted to experience for a long time.
I drove to the west of the Rockies above the ski resort of Winter Park, where I took a rough dirt road for about 15 miles up to Rollins Pass at 11,660 feet. Except in Rocky Mountain National Park, this is the highest trailhead I’ve ever been able to reach with my SUV.
Rollins Pass

Rollins Pass

Near the start of my hike the trail came to the southern point of the Indian Peaks Wilderness at the abandoned Corona site. This foundation is all that remains:

Entering the Wilderness

Entering the Wilderness

Last summer I was able to drive a different section of the Rollins Pass Road up to 11,000 feet from the east side of the Rockies and hike down to the Forest Lakes. Originally vehicles could drive the entire route, but a tunnel cave-in a few years ago closed about five miles of the road.

What really attracted me to hike here today, however, was the chance to hike the High Lonesome Trail along the Continental Divide. I find the name of that trail irresistibly appealing.

Two summers ago when I hiked up to Rogers Pass, I reached another section of the High Lonesome, but didn’t have a chance to hike along it. Then last summer I celebrated my 73rd birthday by falling down a glacier with my backpack just short of reaching the High Lonesome. That trip took me to Devils Thumb Trail, but I had to abandon my plan to hike along the High Lonesome and return by way of King Lake, where I went today.

Following the High Lonesome Trail

Following the High Lonesome Trail

Today I succeeded in hiking to King Lake. Like Devils Thumb Lake a few miles to the north, King Lake is just below the Continental Divide:

King Lake at the Continental Divide

King Lake at the Continental Divide

Hiking on down from King Lake, I saw some beautiful country:

Storm Clouds Brewing

I had intended to another couple of miles to Betty Lake and then on to Bob Lake. But the sky grew darker and darker as a storm approached. I don’t know of any more dangerous place to be in a lightening storm than above the tree line, especially hiking along the Continental Divide.

Unwilling to chance it, I turned back. In the event I got off the mountain well before the storm broke. I count the day as a success because I achieved my main goal of hiking along the High Lonesome Trail and lived to write about it.


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