Caribou Peak

I’m still pinching myself… some days (today, for example) it still seems like we’re vacationing in Colorado. It hasn’t completely sunk in that we LIVE HERE now.

The plan was to double-summit two 14ers (a peak that is 14,000′ or higher in elevation.) But, I’m that person that doesn’t care much for gambling and a 50% chance of thunderstorms by noon was too much of a gamble for me. Rule #1: You do NOT want to be on a mountain, above tree line, during a thunderstorm!!! This is why “alpine starts” are so important. You start your hike at sunrise so you can be OFF the mountain before the afternoon storms roll in. So, instead, we decided to summit a 12,300′ peak called “Caribou Peak.” It may not have been a 14er but it was undisappointingly (woohoo! made up word!) gorgeous.

We drove up to the trailhead to find that the trails were closed for reconstruction. There went our alpine start. After an alternate route that involved some 4WD, we drove the Kia as far as we were willing to take it – just short of running it into a river.

The detour tacked on an extra mile onto our already 6.5 mile hike but we didn’t mind. We crossed a river – thank goodness for hiking poles and gortex boots…

… and encountered a moose. A MOOSE!!! It stared at us for awhile, we stared at it…. while it continued to chew on grass. And then it just walked off. It must’ve weighed 800 pounds easy. That was the highlight of our hike. I mean, we saw a MOOSE! In the wild!

We hiked for a mile on a rocky road. Yes, this is a road that certain capable cars drive on!

Then we happened upon a nice, wide, meadow that led to the peak. It’s amazing how little these geological features can make you feel. We made sure to keep Rogue close because, you know, mountain lions and stuff.

After the meadow it was more or less a trek uphill, past another high altitude meadow with snow fields, rocks (so many rocks) and wild flowers:

There was really no trail leading up to the summit and this afforded me the opportunity to practice orienteering. After a while of just walking and walking and walking, it was, “Ooooh! SUMMIT!!:

We reached the top around 10:00 am, right on schedule. And within 30 minutes, we started seeing some clouds roll in:

Knowing thunderstorms were in the forecast, we decided it was time to jet. After quick get-oriented session and we were on our way downhill and back over a couple of streams.

Rogue was very afraid of crossing the river, but she made it out alright:

I seriously love this place. Seriously. Love.