Trekking in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Hello HMI community! It’s Jane Lovett here to tell you about my group’s breathtaking expedition in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness! Over our 11 days in the backcountry, we hiked South on the Colorado trail between Twin Lakes and Mount Yale Peak. 

On the first night of exped, we all proved our culinary skills by cooking delicious mac and cheese with brussel sprouts. Although each cook group prepared the meal together, my tarp group was especially proud of the spices we put in our meal. 

Over the next few days, we hiked about 20 miles until we got to our layover campsite in Pine Creek. On our layover days, we had classes on Aldo Leopold’s Think Like a Mountain and discussions on conflict resolution. After our much-needed relaxation, we hit the trail once again. We sluggishly packed up our campsite not wanting to leave the beautiful landscape, but were all filled with anticipation as we were to climb up to Harvard Lake that day. That night, we had a debrief of the day overlooking Buena Vista from the distance and went to sleep with bellies filled with beans and rice.

The next day, we arrived at our favorite campsite by far: Kroenke Lake. Besides the fact that we all pronounced the name in a funny accent, we had a gorgeous view of sun-baked mountains and a cold lake for wading in. That night, several of us stood in the lake for hours on end trying to catch a fish. Finally, we had the genius idea to use our bug nets to catch the fish. They finally caught a rainbow and cutthroat trout but don’t worry, they didn’t eat them! 

On day 9 of exped, we began our day with an off-trail climb up to a ridge overlooking Brown’s Pass. On the way down from the ridge, we hit vast slopes of snow in our path. Instead of trudging knee deep in the snow, our instructor of the day, Brittany, taught us how to slide down the snow on our butts. It was so exhilarating to have our backpacks propel us forward instead of them weighing down on our backs. After a long day of hiking, we camped out in Denny Creek at the base of Mount Yale, which we would attempt to summit the next morning. 

Finally it was time for our summit attempt! It was 4:45 am on our last full day of expedition when we started trekking up the 14,196 ft tall Mount Yale. For the first hour of our hike, we had to use our headlamps because it was still dark outside. When we reached the tree line, we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise over the valley. Even though the hike was extremely difficult, the view from the top was so rewarding. Our hard work was finally rewarded with a 360 degree view of beautiful snow enveloped peaks. 

After 11 days of hard work in the field, we got back to campus feeling content and excited for a shower!