Rejoining the rest of the group, we packed up camp but didn’t leave until almost 2:00pm. The hike started well, climbing up to the Shelf Lakes.
The Shelf Lakes were great, but the Gap was not. The winds picked up to gale force, and it was hard to keep your balance on the shore rocks. We slowed down considerably at this point, and never really picked up the pace.
By the time we turned off onto the trail to Brooklyn Lake everyone was ready to camp. Every lake we came to seemed to be full of tents. And lots and lots of wind.
We finally found a clearing north of Pinchot Lake which had some flat spots. It wasn’t ideal terrain— just an opening in the krummholz, and a long walk to water, but at least we did have views in all directions. It was dark by the time we started dinner, and everyone was pretty tired. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t get the good night sleep that we all needed…
We thought it was windy before, but in the middle of the night, the wind picked up and howled with ferocity. By far the most wind I’ve dealt with on a backpack, the tent was pummeled all night. The wind caused the tent to smack itself against the side of my head, and the back of my head. We were battered around all night, making it impossible to sleep. We woke up later than the Liprandi’s as Nate managed to fall asleep at dawn, and we wanted him to get as much sleep as he could. When Dorinna and I got up, the wind pulled up the stakes and started to blow away the tent- with Nate still inside. Windy!
We managed to find a sheltered space to eat breakfast before breaking camp, taking care not to rip the tent in the gale. The trail out was longer and rougher than I remembered it, but that was probably because we were all just ready to be done.
We drove home to the apocalypse. The winds had fanned the Cameron Peak Fire, quadrupling the size of it over the weekend. The skies were orange, headlights were needed in mid-day, and ash covered everything. Thankfully that night the winds brought in a cold front. Temperatures dropped into the late thirties (it was 100 in Fort Collins over the weekend) and we got about 4 inches of wet snow. The mountains got 6-12 inches of much needed moisture, which slowed but did not stop the fire.
This turned out to be our final significant trip of 2020, so this concludes the Adventure 2020 series. Thanks for reading!