For those of you who never heard of Fraser (I hadn’t before this trip), it is a small town near Winter Park south of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Karen, Anne, Sheila, and Canyon arrived mid-afternoon on Thursday (July 17). We barely gave them time to unpack, then drove back to Monarch Lake for another loop around the lake. I think they were glad to get out after sitting in traffic on their way from of Denver.
When we got back to the condo, I fixed Chicken Marbella, gluten-free noodles, asparagus, and salad for dinner, a popular choice. I packed a container of leftovers for lunch.
Friday (July 18) – Rollins Pass
We drove two cars to Rollins Pass. It took us about an hour and a half to cover 14 miles on the rough dirt road leading to the trailhead at 11,660‘ (4WD would have been nice). We had planned to hike to a rock formation known as Devil’s Thumb, however, we were concerned about the gathering clouds. The entire trail is above the timberline and given a couple recent deaths due to lightening strikes, we didn’t want to take a chance. Shelia and Lynne sprinted ahead for a view from the next ridge, while the rest of us headed back in the wind. The short distance we hiked was beautiful.
Since we got back earlier than planned, we took a soak in the Jacuzzi at the condo clubhouse. I was a bit dizzy afterwards, which I attribute to the altitude. Afterwards we had a yummy dinner at the Tabernash Grill about ten miles north of here. I had lamb for the first time in years, my kebab came with a beet hummus and quinoa tabouli.
Saturday (July 19) – St. Louis Trail
We were on the trail by 7:45 this morning. It’s a good thing we got an early start since our planned 7.8 mile loop turned into a 13-mile out-and-back hike with almost 3000’ elevation gain. Apparently to reduce the number of hikers, the forest service put a gate across the road about three miles from the trailhead. Sheila and Karen zipped ahead and we didn’t see them again until we got back to the trailhead at 4:00.
The road portion was boring except for a porcupine sighting, my first. Once we reached the trail, it was beautiful, if steep. We started out in the trees along a stream, emerged in a wildflower filled meadow, and then hiked up above the timberline to the high alpine tundra. We stopped for lunch before the saddle, which gave me enough renewed energy to make it up the last climb to 12,200’. Anne, Canyon, and I took a break while Lynne continued on to St Louis Peak. After a short rest, I slowly headed down to photograph wildflowers. Lynne rejoined us after an hour or so, jogging down the last stretch.
Though easier than going up, our return trip was tiring. Anne and I both ran out of water and were grateful for Lynn’s water filter straw, which allowed us to drink from the stream. We met Karen and Sheila at the car. Sadly, they had been waiting for three hours. They had taken a different fork in the trail and gone to St. Louis Lake instead of the saddle.
Debbie was at the condo when we arrived. She flew out to join us for our last day and will drive back with Lynne. Anne and the others fixed a delicious curry dinner and we retired early.