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!
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!
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:
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!
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!
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.
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!
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?