The mountains are calling, and I must go. ~John Muir
There’s nothing like hiking above tree line to clear your mind. Bright stars, campfires, rain showers, hot food, and no service.
Earlier this month, I shook the dust out of my backpack and filled it up with the necessities – bikini, SmartWool socks, drone, face wipes, and cheese.
Okay, so we brought a few more things, but those were mostly delegated to other packs.
Five of us backpacked up the trail to Chicago Lakes through sun and rain. The lakes are gorgeous, green alpine pools with craggy mountains towering behind them. Water seeps out of the fourteen-thousand foot high rock walls, looking like blood from the mountain’s veins.
- Getting there: The trail begins at Echo Lake campground, near Idaho Springs. It’s a short 56-min drive (45 miles) from Denver, so it’s easily accessible for a day hike, weekend getaway, or longer adventure.
- The Hike: Chicago Lakes is an 8.7-10 mile out and back trail rated as difficult. You’ll gain 1,971 feet of elevation. Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on leash.
- Highlights: You’ll pass three mountain lakes as you hike up into the Mt. Evan’s Wilderness. With water features, wildflowers or fall foliage, and staggering views, it’s well worth the trek.
- Seasons: This hike is best for the summer and fall. Otherwise, strap on your snowshoes and prepare accordingly.
- Closest Town: Idaho Springs
After we reached the main lake, (pictured above) we continued past it, and stepped off the beaten path. We bushwhacked and scrambled up boulders and over fallen trees to some secret upper lakes where no other campers could be seen or heard.
Up in our own private nook of the wild, we set up camp. Shortly after, we were hit with the second rainstorm of the day, with lightning to boot, which soaked our tents and one of our sleeping bags.
Once the sun came back out, we made a fire, cooked dinner, and enjoyed a spectacular display of the Milky Way, Jupiter, and the stars.
There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more. ~Lord Byron
From flying kites to conversations with new friends, it was a soul-filling weekend in the wilderness.
It was a reminder that somehow it’s easier to be happy outside. Miles away from cell service and conveniences, food tastes better, circadian rhythms return, and inner peace abounds. Even the annoying or scary bits – the rain, bugs, and boulders – become part of the adventure.
Nature becomes your playground, and without a phone or laptop to distract you, you can actually pay attention and play.
Wake up your intuition. Turn off your smartphone. Take a hike. XO Haute Scout