Peak(s):  South Rawah Peak - 12,644 feet
Post Date:  07/23/2013
Date Climbed:   07/21/2013
Posted By:  Floyd
Additional Members:   fillae

 Daddy-Daughter Weekend   

I’m not one to post trip reports when a summit isn’t reached but I felt it valuable to share information on this peak since there isn’t much out there and some of the information on Summitpost can be misleading. Plus, I’ll take some time to shamelessly brag about my little girl – any parent would do the same, right?

I take her up for a couple of backpacking trips each year and she’s come to really enjoy our time together in the mountains. Now 6 years old, she has 1 summit to her credit (Deer Mountain in RMNP). We've logged some miles and she likes the camping and exploring more than the summits so far. That may or may not change but as long as she enjoys the journey we’ll head for the hills whenever we get the chance.

I met Ed (Fillae) on a climb of Capital years ago, the summer after my daughter was born. When I learned that he had a couple daughters as well, we discussed making a concerted effort to get them involved in the backcountry at some point. Last year, those discussions came to fruition as we got together for a 3-day trip to the Lost Creek Wilderness and a weekend attempt at Deming Mountain in the Gores (made it to 12,600 before turning around).

Now on to this trip…

So Helmut can keep track of our calories (Jimmy Johns Bootlegger and Slim Jim not pictured)

The West Branch Trailhead is much bigger and more crowded than I thought. I was expecting to see a small turnoff along the dirt road (Rd 103 – near mile marker 71 on Hwy 14) We pulled in to the parking lot with no less than 30 cars in it on Friday night. After sleeping in the car, we headed up and my hopes of a secluded weekend were in serious doubt.

The trail is very gentle at the beginning, holds a couple of switchbacks as it circles below Pt. 9445, flattens out after a brief downhill, and then climbs steadily from 9,200-9,400 with several more switchbacks. There are only a couple of brief views of the Laramie River but it’s mostly a pleasant forest walk. We read the intersection for the Rawah Trail was anywhere between 3 and 3.7 miles in. I would guess that it’s around 3.25 and it’s just after you cross the North Fork River. A felled tree acts as a bridge, but we had our Crocs so we decided getting wet was the safer and more comfortable option.

Enjoying the first views of the Laramie River

Loving the water

After taking the Rawah Trail, the trail is very gentle with several small stream crossings and then, after about a half a mile, has two large creek crossings in succession. The first has a large tree that is easily used as a bridge but the bridge over the second is broken in the middle so the Crocs were donned once again.

So that's why I paid for those gymnastics classes?

Still having fun!

Following the second crossing the trail climbs at a rapid pace from about 9,900 to 10,500 through several switchbacks but is in great condition. Once at the top of the headwall you catch a couple of glimpses of South Rawah Peak’s rugged north face and the intersection for the Twin Crater Lakes trail comes quickly.

The Twin Crater Lakes trail is a real treat. It meanders through several open meadows with pockets of trees and captivated my daughter’s love for wildflowers. Plenty of incredible campsites are available but we pressed on to lessen our work for the next day. Someone had told us that we couldn’t camp above 10,800 (which has not been confirmed by any signage or otherwise) but we did meet a few rangers on the hike in so we played it safe. We camped right at 10,800, just below the final headwall to the lakes at the base of two waterfalls. While the trail itself was relatively crowded with day hikers we saw very few campers in the basin – plus there are so many lakes/camping option from the connecting trails, you still feel pretty secluded up there.

Getting Gorgeous

Making it look easy

A reunion with her favorite flower - the Pink Elephant

Trail through the meadows below Twin Crater Lakes

Once more crossing before ascending to the lakes

The summitpost page offers two alternate routes, one right up the east ridge from Bench Lake and the other is a high traverse above Rocktote Lake (above Twin Crater Lakes). We chose the latter since it held a trail to Twin Crater. My daughter went to bed early so I ran up to scout out the route above the lake just to make sure. There was a small gully that was mixed with grass and rock that I felt the kids could handle just fine and we assumed it was all grass above on the bench holding Rocktote Lake.

Reflection off of Snowbank Peak (Summit not seen)

Our campsite in lower right

The next morning we got started around 8:00 and made the quick journey up to Twin Crater and then I climbed the gully while the kids had a snack just to make sure that they could handle it (and so Floyd wouldn't kick any rocks on the kids). Once on top, I saw the grass I was hoping for but the view of the entire route was hidden over a small hill. I called down to the others that it was fine and they followed up without much difficulty. Our spirits were high as we thought we were home free since all we could see was grass but my heart sank once we crested the hill. We walked right into a huge mass of choss and boulders that had several “ridges” varying between 20-30 feet high with gullies separating each for the entire length of the approach to the peak.

Twin Crater Lakes in the morning

Hiking around the lakes

Floyd enjoying the view of "Dodad Peak"

Ed and the girls ascending the gully

Grass bench atop the gully (Still in high spirits)

The motivation killer

I know my daughter doesn’t like boulder hopping on loose junk (takes after her old man in that regard) and the added complications of lingering snow and running water under the rocks took away any desire she had to climb any more. If I had known what was in store for us I would have definitely led the group up from Bench Lake (we undoubtedly would have made the summit if that route was chosen.) So, we decided to stop and play at Rocktote Lake where I got a swim in while the kids threw a stick for Floyd to fetch. After a good hour of rest, the kids’ had smiles on their faces again and we were confident that the ridge and descent to Bench Lake would be easier than backtracking what we came up.

Floyd doing what labs do

After reassuring my daughter that there would not be any more boulder hopping we started the walk up the grass to South Rawah’s East Ridge. We topped out around 12,000 and the kids’ energy was starting to dwindle again so we called that our summit and began the walk back to camp. The descent is a little steep but very easy and after a short scree field to the north of Pt. 11,002 (could be avoided to south) we picked up a game trail that led us back down to the meadows where we camped. The direct route from Bench is the way to go if you have any desire to climb this mountain. You just need to navigate the creeks and bogs in the camper’s meadow. Trust me, it’s much easier than the choss around Rocktote.

Let's give it a try

Our summit

(L-R) Clark Peak, "Lewis Peak", "Rawah Pyramid", Snowbank Peak

Missed it by that much (but smiling again)

Rocktote Lake (foreground) Twin Crater Lakes (background)

Descending the East Ridge

Walking the meadows back home

Once back at camp we relaxed and ate an early dinner since the kids had renewed interest in some activity and wanted to try their hand at some fishing. I saw some activity on my recon mission the night before but it was pretty windy so I wasn’t that optimistic for any success. We donated a couple of spinners to the rocks on the bottom of the lake and tried a surface lure in a small pond but didn’t get any takers. Nevertheless, hanging out on the lakes was a nice way to end the day and we retired back to our campsite empty handed and prepared mentally for the hike out in the morning.

Floyd keeping an eye on the fishing progress

My daughter fishing the southern lake

Ed and his daughter fishing the southern lake

The hike out was uneventful and the kids seemed to enjoy not having the rigors of any more climbing. We were all thrilled to get back to the car and anxious to get into Ft. Collins for some real food. Old Chicago made for a great post-climb feast for the four of us and then we walked across the street for gelato. Smiles abounded once again and my daughter is already asking when the next time we can get out. These are great days we’re livin’!

Not pictured is the feast at Old Chicago

Thanks for reading.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions
Chicago Transplant

What its all about     07/23/2013 21:08
Smiles and Ice Cream, any hike that ends in both of those things is a huge success in my book 8)


dreaming of the day...     07/23/2013 21:43
Spectacular report... even if you didn't get to summit. The time you spent with your girls is invaluable, and you must know that these memories occupy a special place in their hearts. I am dreaming of the day when I get to take my girls on a trip like this... I'm just waiting for the ”daddy, I need a drink of water”-at-3AM phase to end

Thanks for putting this to life in pictures. Great job!


Thats when     07/23/2013 22:01
you put her on your back and carry her the last couple hundred feet to the summit (or Floyd's back).

You must've been strapped for food options if Old C's was your only option. I hope you at least got the Italian Nachos. Next time hit Mexicali Cafe and I promise you won't leave still hungry.

Floyd looks very content in the Rawah's.


Smiling     07/23/2013 22:04
This trip report puts a huge smile on my face. Treasure that time with your daughter - she will never forget it. I love seeing kids enjoying the outdoors and admire parents who take the time to explore with them. Bravo !!


This is so cute ...     07/23/2013 22:39
Truly. Love the short people photos ... and the pictures of Floyd (my sister has two labs ... and they can't stay out of the water either). It's really neat you get this special ”dad-daughter” time when she is so young. Thanks for posting. Happy trails!


Whadda Team!     07/23/2013 23:30
This was a great TR -- with excellent photos. And, of course, lots of great beta for parents with youngsters. Keep up the trekking -- and, your first Father-Daughter Fourteener will be just around the corner! Thanks for taking the time to post this most excellent report!


Thanks Scot!     07/23/2013 23:49
Had a great trip. My kiddo got a little disappointed about not making the summit when we were looking at our photos. I take that as a positive sign. Looking forward to the next trip!


Nice work.     07/24/2013 02:36
Though, I've gotta say you're growing soft, old man. Daughters are supposed to be left out as sacrifices to the mountain gods. If they survive a stormy, monssonal night, they're worthy of keeping. Or so I'm told.

Rawah's sure are good looking. Nice write up on a few of them and it's good you were able to take a kid along. Also, I've boycotted Old Chicago ever since they got rid of the good artichoke dip. Cheap bastards.


It's so great     07/24/2013 03:05
when I read trip reports and parents are getting their kids outside and actively hiking through the mountains. I am a nanny and too often the actual parents just hand their kids electronics. I am the one who takes them into the forest. I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for my father taking me on these type of trips so....way to go dad!!!! summit or no summit.


Family Man     07/24/2013 05:03
Your kids are gonna be tearing up the weminuche in the future, Scot, or at a minimum roaming RMNP. Let me know when your daughter goes for summit #2. Always good to see Floyd make an appearance. It looks like he had a blast too.

I look forward to catching up soon.

Edit: I haven't been to Old Chi in a while. I do remember their mozzarella logs being the size of cuban cigars.


Thanks for all of the comments     07/24/2013 17:15
Re: Old Chicago - yes, there are better places, but they had shaded parking and we sat on the front porch so I could keep an eye on Floyd in the backseat. It was 95 degrees outside - I didn't want to come back to a roasted pooch.

Re: Parenting - I could take her to church every morning and the library every evening and I wouldn't receive a quarter of the compliments I get on the trail. So far so good, she enjoys it! (And I do appreciate the support)

Scott: 3 am? Sounds like you are primed for an alpine start!

Helmut: No need to force it. She'll get it when she wants it. Plus, now I have an excuse to go back more. Did you happen to see the ridge to Snowbank?

Phantom: I'll cut her teeth in the wilderness. We'll see if she ever eyes the ”list” but for now we'll explore other areas.

Anna: Give me a call when the Rawahs show up on your and Kimo's Wilderness list. She may be up for a rematch. Oh, and she already steals my hot sauce.

Ed: Their competitive spirit will shine through soon enough. She was a great friend all weekend. Thanks for everything!

Ryan: Yes, I'm a huge softie when it comes to my girls.

Pap: You've read my mind. Hopefully she'll be ready for a week trip in 2016.


This!     07/24/2013 19:40
This is awesome!


Late to the Comment Party     07/24/2013 23:30
But not short on praise for this one.
Some trips are about more than summits.
This is one of those.
Gymnastics classes, amazing hiking trips... Some daughters have it pretty darn good.


Good times     07/27/2013 06:05
I hope to come on the next outing and bring BBQ. I think she's learned how to use a sleeping bag.


Thanks Again     07/29/2013 16:00
Zambo/jasayrevt - yes, yes it was.

Matt - I do spoil her and she's helping me keep things in perspective.

Cheese - I'll try to get our little one out next year too so let's make it happen! Don't forget your tent poles.

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