Capitol Peak: Part Two

Friday morning dawned, albeit gloomy and rainy! We had both awoken a handful of times in the night (once so Will could actually put his head back inside the tent! He had hung it out the door when he was feeling sick), and had heard the rain pounding on our tent every single time we woke up. Not only was the rain fairly vicious on Thursday night, but the lightning was talking back in return! If you’ve never spent the night in a tent while lightning fills the sky, please do. It’s insanely eery!

Capitol Peak

You can read part one of our backpacking trip here.

Regardless, I had realized around 2am that we were not going to be attempting Capitol Peak on Friday. Instead, we slept in until 8am and rolled out of the tent, feeling rested and alive! Luckily, Will’s condition had passed, just like he promised. He felt so guilty about leaving me with all the camp chores the night before that he busted his ass in the morning to take care of everything. He even made me coffee in bed (or sleeping bag, as the case were) for the rest of the trip. I’m not so great at early-morning alpine starts, so the coffee made it a bazillion times easier to get motivated!

Capitol Peak

Doing some early morning stretching at camp

After getting ourselves sorted, we decided on a nice mellow day hike to explore the area. We still hadn’t officially seen Capitol Lake, so we decided to head in that direction. After crossing a few tiny snow patches and a large boulder field, we had a spectacular view of some of the clearest water you’ve ever seen:

Capitol Peak

It was so pretty that we decided to stop and eat lunch on a rock while enjoying the view. Naturally, I felt the need to capitalize on our impromptu rest day, so I also declared the lake to be “the perfect place for a nap!” Coincidentally, there was a massive flat rock sprawled in the center of the boulder field, so we both curled up on it….and passed out!

Capitol Peak

Out like a light!

Apparently Will doesn’t like to nap on rocks at 12,500 feet as much as I do, so he awoke after 15-20 minutes and spent the rest of the hour exploring and taking photos. I, on the other hand, really enjoy sunshine-filled naps and passed the heck out! I think I slept on that rock for at least 60 minutes, and I loved every minute. There aren’t too many days where a nap fits into my schedule, so I’m happy to accommodate them when possible.

I finally managed to rub the sleep out of my eyes, and it was a good thing I did because Will was ready for some hiking! He had scouted a ridgeline in the distance, and we realized that it was a part of the not-so-popular Avalanche Pass backpacking trail. We had spoken to a guy and his dog who were returning from the trip, and he reported all good things. Obviously, we didn’t want to drop down the backside of the ridge, but we both agreed that it would be fun to see what the view was like from higher up. Plus, the ridge was located at the base of Capitol Peak, so we could get a closer look of the demon we would be attacking on the following day!

Capitol Peak

The single track trail wound around the side of the lake and gradually climbed through meadows full of wildflowers. Some were already spent, but the seed pods were just as beautiful as the full blooms. Columbine, the state flower of Colorado, were going bonkers, and they filled the hillside as we climbed higher and higher. We plant those in Denver (via my day job with my family’s landscaping company), but it is so fun to see them in the wild. They flourish at high altitudes and their intricate petals always make me smile.

Capitol Peak

We continued to climb up the trail until we finally arrived at the ridge separating the Capitol Lake valley from another valley next door. We spent a few minutes soaking up the view. I swear, vistas like this are why I love my home!

Capitol Peak

We both agreed that we didn’t want to hike any further, and we headed back to camp. We figured a lazy night at camp was just what we needed in order to prep for our early morning start the next day. After all, Capitol Peak was coming!

As a heads up, I’m guessing my story (and photos! The photos are the best part!) of Capitol and Knife Edge won’t happen till Monday. The next couple days are pretty full o’ stuff, but I promise that it’s coming!


What’s your favorite day hike?

Craziest storm you’ve weathered in a tent?


  • Reply Laraine Wyn-Jones at

    My husband and I went camping on the Isle of Mull (west coast of Scotland, UK) last year. Ended up being force 8 gales and rainstorms. We were up mega early and took off to get some breakfast since cooking outside was a no go. When we got back, the tent had ripped apart – literally! Had to spend the rest of the week in a bunkhouse.

  • Reply Justin Fricke at

    That looks like tons o’ fun. Did you both pack your day packs in the packs you hiked in with? By the way, I’m digging the Eddie Bauer “First Ascent” series packs.

    • Reply heather at

      Will had an FA pack that expanded to be a 60L pack, but could zip-up and condense itself into a larger daypack. I was testing the Bacon daypack for Backpacker– the sucker folds up into a little pouch, so I just carried it inside my larger pack (Boreas Lost Coast 60). It was amazing! It was my first foray into FA packs and I was highly impressed.

  • Reply Ingunn at

    That last photo is a winner! Gorgeous.

  • Reply Kayla at

    Oh how I love naps in the sun!!! How cold is that lake water?

    • Reply heather at

      Ha, COLD! I dared Will to jump in but since we didn’t have a towel or anything, he wouldn’t 🙂 I would guess maybe 38-40 degrees in the dead heat of summer?

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    Bee you tee full! That boyfriend of yours takes some nice photos 😉

  • Reply Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem at

    Nice job to Will with all the great photos! Love that last one, that is frameworthy for sure!

  • Reply Rachel @ Betty LIVIN at

    I think I would be awake and scared the entire night if I were in a tent in a storm! Craziness!

  • Reply Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen at

    The photos are gorgeous! I love that you went out so hard on a rock 🙂

    • Reply heather at

      Sun was shining, no one was around…it was perfect! 🙂

  • Reply Logan @ Mountains and Miles at

    I was just recently up on the Maroon Bells/Snowmass area backpacking. We were originally planning on doing the 4-Pass Loop around Maroon Bells, but my friend ended up getting sick (flu, not altitude sickness) We ended up just hiking to West Maroon Pass and then coming back down to Crater Lake for the second night. It was so beautiful, I really want to do the full loop sometime. The first night we were camping there (near Carter Lake)there was a storm in the middle of the night. It was the first time I’d camped in a lightning storm and at first (before we could hear the rain and thunder), i thought the lightning was some hiker with a headlamp nearby, ha.

  • Reply Capitol Peak: The Knife Edge - Just a Colorado Gal at

    […] **If you missed reading parts one and two, check ‘em out here or here** […]

  • Reply Capitol Peak | Podcast 19 | Climbing, Hiking, Mountaineering | In Ice Axe We Trust at

    […] weather concerns. To read more about her multi-day Capitol Peak trip, check out here blog: Part I, Part II & Part […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.