Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,255 feet
Date Posted:  08/06/2007
Date Climbed:   08/05/2007
Author:  krz2fer
 Boulderfield Camping and Summit  

Peak: Longs Peak (14,255') with Boulderfield Camping
Date: Sunday, August 5, 2007
Team: krz2fer (Chris), Ryan (krz2fer's brother), Steve (our Dad)
Route: Longs Peak Trailhead
Roundtrip: ~16 miles

This hike was a culmination of sorts with my brother being in Denver for the summer at an architectural internship, and our parents coming out to visit for the last week of his stay. I had made the summit with my Dad a solid 8-9 years ago, but Ryan had been stopped just short at the Homestretch 4-5 years ago. Enter: family ascent with camping.

We reserved a camping spot in early Spring during the first week they accepted them, so we had no issue getting in. We traveled to Estes Park on Friday, acclimated a bit, enjoyed some Baldpate, and rested for Saturday's journey to the Boulderfield.

We arrived at the trailhead just before 10:00am, and set off with overnight packs in tow. None of us had much experience with the larger packs, so it's safe to say the entire experience was one of learning how to best deal with the weight via strap adjustments. Hindsight being 20/20, perhaps 6 miles one way wasn't the best initial test to determine the impact on our bodies. Nonetheless, our minds were made up.

The group at the trailhead mid-morning; my Dad still resting:

We were fairly slow and steady with our steps on the way to the Chasm junction. It's a tough trail as it is, and the packs were like having a child resting on our backs. The route to the junction was fairly uneventful with stops every so often to rest.

We arrived at the Chasm intersection at about 12:30pm, unleashed the beastly packs, and enjoyed a short break destroying some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Completely devoured.

Looking towards the trail around Lady Washington at the junction:

I've always though the approach to the Boulderfield is an arduous task in itself with the switchbacks being so persistent in length. The undulating hill approaching the area is both beautiful and a pain!

Gaining the field of boulders:

We finally arrived at 2:20pm and scouted out the best location for our tent. After a brief back-saving break, we quickly setup camp as a few clouds were looking a bit ominous behind the Keyhole. I had never closely inspected the Boulderfield camp sites, so I think I can speak for us all when I say that they are pleasantly cozy and, better yet, flat.

Our camp site setup - what a view!:

The weather never turned bad the entire camp time, which was great. A few rumbles were heard to the south and into Estes, but the storms dodged us. There were plenty of awe-inspiring weather items, however...

The ever-changing cloud cover in and around the Diamond:

We decided to boil some water for food around 5:30pm and rested as our meals prepared themselves in sealed bags. What was on the menu you might ask? Pesto Salmon, Turkey Alfredo, and Sweet and Sour Chicken. None disappointed, so we were very pleased overall. We capped off a much needed dinner with some tea and cider.

What? This isn't how everyone drinks warm liquids?:

Sunset was a cool thing and we all enjoyed the evolving color schemes. We packed in around 9:00pm and starting resting up.

Colors on the Lady:

Quick side trip in my overnight: After camping at a Grays/Torreys site last week and waking up cold with a cold head, I thought to myself, "If I wake up cold, I need to stick my hat on." Sure enough I wake up feeling my head a bit chilly, so I put my a hat on. Fall asleep. Who knows how much later, I wake up. Worst head-fever-feeling I've ever had. The intensity is remarkable, and I feel like I'm going to be sick. Long story short, I take the hat off, lay as my urges to be sick subside, and eventually fall asleep. Wake up the next morning feeling groggy, but much better. Weird.

We got up Sunday morning at about 5:30am, ready for some more warm liquids. This time no one was joking as an early morning at altitude (IMO) isn't the most fun thing in the world. We saw about 10 people in headlamps heading toward us in a cool alien movie moment, as it was still too dark to make much out.

We left camp at 6:30am and headed to the Keyhole in uneventful style. I kind of felt like poop from my overheating incident overnight, so I was pulling caboose duty at first.

A cool shot by Ryan in the Keyhole (not upside down):

There are around 65 thousand reports in book and online about the route, so I'll stick to pretty pretty pictures and a few comments, since this info is heavily covered elsewhere.

The backside Ledges area was pretty fun and easy going, and we could get a good feel of the Trough immediately as people slowly headed up.

My Dad and I approaching the Trough:

Arriving at the Trough we knew what we were in for, so we all took our time and went at our own paces. It is quite the endless beast of loose rock and a bit of water here and there, so be careful. There were a handful of hikers kicking rock and not yelling, eh, "ROCK".

The Trough:

The Narrows were pretty busy as we approached the area:

The Homestretch was really busy with about 10-15 people heading up at once, so we took 10 and relaxed as they continued. It's certainly a steep section, but we mostly stayed left and found solid holds everywhere. There was very little water that I could see, because I remembered a few people mentioning this in weeks previous.

On the summit at 8:45am, it was cool to look back at our camp site, looking like an ant.

Boulderfield from the summit:

The group on the summit after a solid trek in (Steve, Chris, Ryan):

I said things were pretty busy right? The Trough going down:

To summarize the route down, it's steep, loose, and you have to do a lot of butt sitting. It is pretty quick though, so that's a plus. We saw a guy smoking up there, a few groups in shear pain, and a handful of know-it-alls. Pretty typical.

Back at camp we rested for a few minutes, but with rain clouds moving in we packed up quickly. The trek down was a bear as many understand. With large packs it only worsens the long walk back to the trailhead... that never ending last 0.5 miles. I swear it's about 2 miles.

Sore joints and muscles capped off the journey, but it was one we'll all never forget and are so very fortunate for being able to do as a family, capping off almost 20 years visiting the Estes area and eying our ultimate prize; the beast that is Longs. Thanks for the memories Dad and Ryan.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Family Style!
02/05/2011 00:22
Sounds like you had a great trip. Congrats to you and your family.


The Beast!
08/07/2007 04:49
How was the water run off? Was the home stretch wet and slick?

Sounds like you had a great trip tho. Gratz on the ”Beast.”


Great trip!
11/30/2010 17:28
Great write-up and pics. Next time I'll try camping in the boulderfield. Congratulations on a great trip with the family.


11/30/2010 17:28
cfoye130 - The Homestretch wasn't slick at all. Like I said, we stayed left and didn't encounter wet surfaces.

Treinfir - Thanks! The camping portion is definitely recommended to break up such a long, tough hike. Best of luck.


08/07/2007 20:11
dude... sounds like a good trip. Nice report.


08/21/2007 11:09
Thanks for not making the narrows look so scary, I wish you could have done the same for a pic of the homestretch!

Aspen Summit

Avatar origin
05/09/2008 05:30
So THAT‘S where your avatar pic comes from. I was wonder what/where you were leaning against. Dude, your dad looks a lot like one of my mom‘s research colleagues at the Center for Disease Control.



Boulderfield camping
07/10/2008 13:45
Great report. I‘m taking my daughters in a month and will be camping at Boulderfield. Your detail is good as there is little info posted anywhere about camping there. Can‘t wait!

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