The Descent
Backpacking the Rawah Wilderness

Since early June, I've been planning a 3 day Rocky Mountain backpacking trip. And to make myself look good, I invited anyone that doesn't live at high altitude, namely my brother, Trevor from San Francisco, and good friend, Niran from Chicago. Once they arrived in Denver, we agreed on a 16 mile loop in the Rawah Wilderness west of Fort Collins and Poudre Canyon. When we set out, I thought this trip might satisfy my backpacking longings for awhile, but 3 days later, I'm ready to go again... (just not this month).

Day 1

Day 1 began at the West Branch trailhead. From the trailhead, we followed the West Branch Trail for about 1.5 miles and Camp Lake Trail for another 4.5 miles before making camp at Camp Lake. Today was the most challenging day with an elevation gain over 2000 feet. My pack weighed the least at about 40 pounds, and Trevor's was about the same after he was finally convinced to ditch his 2 pound axe at the trailhead. Niran won the heaviest pack award, coming in at around 50 pounds, due to his 5 pound professional camera and one litre of boxed milk for his morning granola (hey, we all have our necessities!).

 
West Branch Trailhead
West Branch Trailhead
Elevation: 8,500 feet
Entering Rawah Wilderness
Entering Rawah Wilderness
"This isn't so bad..."
"This isn't so bad..."
 
Switchbacks already?
Switchbacks already?
Camp Lake Trail Junction
Camp Lake Trail Junction
"Dude! I live at sea level!"
"Dude! I live at sea level!"
And still 1000 feet to go...
 
The Death March
The Death March
This was the least scenic and most tiring section of the 3 day hike.
Out of the Trees
Out of the Trees
Camp Lake, finally!
Camp Lake, finally!
 
Second Wind
Second Wind
Hiking Pose
Hiking Pose
With our new found confidence, the hiking pose was born.
Campsite near Camp Lake
Campsite near Camp Lake
Elevation: 10,500 feet.
 
Sunset at Camp Lake
Sunset at Camp Lake