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help with trip itinerary

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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help with trip itinerary

Postby derekw » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:32 pm

Hi. Taking a bunch of flat landers out to Colorado for first attempts at a 14er. (I and one other individual in trip has been up at 13k + and camping before -- Leadville area)

Looks to be in the late July/early August timeframe.

I know a bit about Colorado, and have seen a few things, but haven't done extensive climbing or camping. My goal is to make the trip a combination of visual awe (camping/hiking/climbing with a VIEW) and exploration (mountain and city) while still being somewhat relaxing. (seeing a variety of things without too much car time)

Big requirement is having some beautiful camping locations... love lakes.

I've got 10 days. Since we're coming from Iowa, 8 solid days of no major traveling.

Rough Itinerary:
- Arrive in Boulder. Hike/Camp a few days in Indian Peaks for acclimation. (from my research... offers great visual scenes with lots of well defined trails)
- Head towards a front range 14er. Quandary/Torreys/Gray/Bierstadt... one of those.
- Leave front range, camp a night near Leadville. (have experience camping at twin lakes -- any other awesome locations there?)
- Pick a Sawatch to try. (have tried Huron... maybe a collegiate peak, Elbert? Missouri? Maybe Huron again? Have to decide)
- Aftewards head over to Aspen. Visit city. Camp somewhere. See the bells, hike the lake.
- Head to great Sand Dunes. Camp, play.
- Swing around to South Colony lakes... camp a night, ready for Humboldt next morning.
- Hopefully make it up Humboldt.
- Start heading back north for trip back... goof around in Colorado Springs.


Gonna be a bit much for my time frame? Attempting 3 14ers for decent fitness level people -- not total couch potatoes, but not fitness buffs either -- a bit much? From my research... scenery ought to be awesome. Any thoughts on specific mountains and or camping/hiking areas? Indian Peaks a good intro to mountain hiking&camping? Don't like the idea of tons of people on a mountain hike, so questioning front range mountain... though it would be during week. (other thought is to head straight towards Sawatch from Indian Peaks area)

Any thoughts are welcome. Like I said... rough stab at things.
Last edited by derekw on Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby derekw » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:58 pm

Additionally... love the idea of getting out to San Juans... but seems it may be a bit much to cram in.

It's looking like: 1) Front Range Stuff 2)San De Cristo stuff... 3)Sawatch area

About the only thing I'm hell-bent on is San De Cristo. Love that area. Seems like Front range will be hard to escape... (but I'm cool with that if Indian Peaks is really rewarding... hikes to lone eagle peak, lake Isabelle and Crater lake have me excited)

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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby Matt Lemke » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:04 pm

The views of the Crestones from Humboldts summit early in the morning is incredible (phenomenal, amazing, gorgeous...insert your choose of cheesy adjective and smile :D )
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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby derekw » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:09 pm

Matt Lemke wrote:The views of the Crestones from Humboldts summit early in the morning is incredible (phenomenal, amazing, gorgeous...insert your choose of cheesy adjective and smile :D )


So break out the headlamps for this one, eh?

I'm going to be bringing my photography gear.. so might as well do it right I guess. Gotta take advantage of the good light. (of course... i want to do some night shooting of stars from South Colony lake... basically... not interested in sleeping for a week and a half it seems)

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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby Matt Lemke » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:14 pm

Yeah if you're in to photography...you'll love it. You don't have to summit Humboldt right at sunrise as the lighting is still great for a couple hours after but a pretty early start would be very nice. Views of the Crestones appear long before you reach the summit too since you are on the west ridge looking towards the Crestones. This ridge climbs for 1200 feet from the saddle so views will still be there. A start from the South Colony 4WD around 4am would be more than good enough for great morning photos.
Lemke Climbs
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"Take risks not to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping"
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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby susanjoypaul » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:26 pm

derekw wrote:- Head to great Sand Dunes. Camp, play.

If you're going to the Great Sand Dunes, hike up Star Dune - it's the tallest sand dune, from base to tip, in North America. Plus you'll have views of a bunch of 13ers and the Crestones, too.

There's a hot springs pool located not far from there, also - the Sand Dunes Swimming Pool and RV Park. Might be a nice break from all the hiking.

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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby globreal » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:09 pm

derekw wrote:
My goal is to make the trip a combination of visual awe (camping/hiking/climbing with a VIEW) and exploration (mountain and city) while still being somewhat relaxing. (seeing a variety of things without too much car time)

It looks like your itinerary will have a good bit of "car time."

derekw wrote: Big requirement is having some beautiful camping locations... love lakes.


For your Leadville area, you could drive up the Halfmoon Creek Road to the North Halfmoon trailhead and backpack into the North Halfmoon Lakes. This is one beautiful area where you won't find many people. Then you could climb Mt. Massive.

Then you can't go wrong with the South Colony Lakes area to camp while climbing Humboldt or the Crestones. If you are camping at the lakes, (I suggest below the lakes in the trees) then your climb up Humboldt is short and quick. If you start just before sunrise, then you should be back to camp by noon.
derekw wrote:Rough Itinerary:
- Arrive in Boulder. Hike/Camp a few days in Indian Peaks for acclimation. (from my research... offers great visual scenes with lots of well defined trails)
- Head towards a front range 14er. Quandary/Torreys/Gray/Bierstadt... one of those.
- Leave front range, camp a night near Leadville. (have experience camping at twin lakes -- any other awesome locations there?)
- Pick a Sawatch to try. (have tried Huron... maybe a collegiate peak, Elbert? Missouri? Maybe Huron again? Have to decide)
- Aftewards head over to Aspen. Visit city. Camp somewhere. See the bells, hike the lake.
- Head to great Sand Dunes. Camp, play.
- Swing around to South Colony lakes... camp a night, ready for Humboldt next morning.
- Hopefully make it up Humboldt.
- Start heading back north for trip back... goof around in Colorado Springs.


Gonna be a bit much for my time frame? Attempting 3 14ers for decent fitness level people -- not total couch potatoes, but not fitness buffs either -- a bit much? From my research... scenery ought to be awesome. Any thoughts on specific mountains and or camping/hiking areas? Indian Peaks a good intro to mountain hiking&camping? Don't like the idea of tons of people on a mountain hike, so questioning front range mountain... though it would be during week. (other thought is to head straight towards Sawatch from Indian Peaks area)

Any thoughts are welcome. Like I said... rough stab at things.


You may want to really plan out your drive times, backpacking times, and climbing times. I think you've got to much on your "to-do" list for 8 days if you want to enjoy it.

Good luck and have fun!
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."
~John 11:25

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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby derekw » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:06 am

Curious if anybody knows the answer to this...

Does Indian Peaks allow for any sort of camping besides camping at a designated site? Their wording is rather ambiguous. Trying to figure out if I even will have a shot to camp in there or if it will be filled up.

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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby ThuChad » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:12 am

Not sure about the Indian Peaks bit but I thought I would throw in my pennies.

Being from Oklahoma, I feel your excitement and desire to squeeze as much in to your trip as possible. I only make it to CO once or twice a year. If everyone is in decent shape three 14ers in eight days shouldn't be a problem. Like the replies said above, you will be doing a decent amount of driving in CO if you follow your plan but I don't think it's too crazy. You'll be driving 10-12 hours from Iowa so what's a few more.

My best advice is to make a itinerary, as detailed as you feel necessary, then don't be afraid to stray from it. There may be days you are too sore or you just don't feel like getting out of the tent. There will be a person or people in your group that are more/less ambitious than the others. If you are taking one car this can sometimes be a problem depending on group dynamics. Your detailed itinerary has about an 80% chance of changing in 8 days. Just make sure everyone is ready to go with the flow. The goal is to introduce people to 14ers and for them to have an enjoyable experience.

Sorry if I didn't speak directly to your itinerary.
I'm just pretending to be a poseur.

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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby Lemmiwinks » Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:29 am

derekw wrote:Hi. Taking a bunch of flat landers out to Colorado for first attempts at a 14er. (I and one other individual in trip has been up at 13k + and camping before -- Leadville area)

Looks to be in the late July/early August timeframe.

Big requirement is having some beautiful camping locations... love lakes.

I've got 10 days. Since we're coming from Iowa, 8 solid days of no major traveling.

Rough Itinerary:
- Arrive in Boulder. Hike/Camp a few days in Indian Peaks for acclimation. (from my research... offers great visual scenes with lots of well defined trails)
- Head towards a front range 14er. Quandary/Torreys/Gray/Bierstadt... one of those.
- Leave front range, camp a night near Leadville. (have experience camping at twin lakes -- any other awesome locations there?)
- Pick a Sawatch to try. (have tried Huron... maybe a collegiate peak, Elbert? Missouri? Maybe Huron again? Have to decide)

- Aftewards head over to Aspen. Visit city. Camp somewhere. See the bells, hike the lake.
- Head to great Sand Dunes. Camp, play.
- Swing around to South Colony lakes... camp a night, ready for Humboldt next morning.
- Hopefully make it up Humboldt.
- Start heading back north for trip back... goof around in Colorado Springs.

Any thoughts are welcome. Like I said... rough stab at things.


Plenty of good campgrounds in this area that would provide easy access to either Elbert or Massive's standard routes. Since you like lakes there are campgrounds around Twin Lakes and Turquoise Lake. If you wanted to get a little closer to the trailhead, there are more campsites up Halfmoon Creek. These sites would probably have a lot of other campers if you went on a weekend during the summer.
“If you're bumming out, you're not gonna get to the top, so as long as we're up here we might as well make a point of grooving." -Scott Fischer

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Re: help with trip itinerary

Postby derekw » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:39 pm

New itinerary for the flatlanders.

Somewhat aggressive... but realize I'm a halfway serious landscape photography hobbiest who has put together some bizarrely grueling trips in order to see "cool" things. Plus I also storm chase... I'm used to absurd amounts of car time. I just hope this isn't too much for others. (it shouldn't be too bad for my Dad... has been out with me before... other two people? They're complete virgins to awesome trips, so who knows)

Thur evening: Drive
Fri: Drive - Boulder, shorter later day hike... City, last minute supply buying. Beer.
Sat: Indian Peaks hike morning first half of day. 2 hours to leadville. Camp twin lakes.
Sun: Twin lakes. Camp twin lakes.
Mon: Hike Elbert. 1.5hr to Aspen. Camp/hotel Aspen.
Tue: Hike Aspen. Camp Aspen.
Wed: Hike out of Aspen. 3hr to Dunes. Camp/Hotel at dunes.
Thur: Explore Dunes. Camp dunes.
Fri: Hike out of dunes. 3hr to Colony Lakes. Camp Colonly Lakes.
Sat: Hike Humbolt. Leave Colony lakes north... to Colorado Springs area for evening? (be in position for drive back Sunday)
Sun: 12-14 hr back.

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