When we left Fort Collins, the smoke was as bad as I ever seen it. You could smell it in the car with the air conditioning on. The smoke continued on the drive, and even in Centennial it didn’t look so good. Thankfully it was just lingering the valley, and when we drove up to the high country of the Snowy Range, it was merely a little hazy.
The parking lot was pretty crowded and filled with others from Fort Collins trying to escape the smoke. It was a nice hike up to the Gap, free of snow, but otherwise still rocky and rough.
Our goal was to hike to Arrowhead Lake, but we found a campsite next to Shelf Lake #2 that was just too great to pass up. Flat areas and great views in both directions. The only surprise was the mooing of cows down in the Crescent Lake valley. Our camp even had a resident marmot. We set up our tents while our friends James and Luis set up their hammocks.
Then we started with the big ordeal of our trip, pumping water. We had with us a brand-new Grayl filter (no link provided, this filter is garbage). In theory, it worked like a french press, but in practice it was almost impossible to press down. Eventually, it did get impossible and we decided to boil water instead.
Nate had an upset stomach, so we had a casual evening while he recovered.
The next day we relaxed and read, while our friends departed. Nate was definitely better, so I talked him into making a short loop on the way out. We continued along to Shelf Lakes #3 and #4, and then looped around off-trail to Crescent Lake. Definitely some nice sites down there. The climb up to Gap Lake was longer than I remembered it, which is how I felt about it last time.
We would be back in this area two weeks later.