Finally, we got to go backpacking! Oh how long we have waited to be all dirty and sweaty and eat freeze dried food and wear bug repellant and sleep in a cocoon inside a flimsy nylon house! Oh, and what's better, we got to carry everything we had on our backs! It was awesome. We hiked the Missouri Pass/Fancy Pass trail in the Holy Cross Wilderness. Day one was a fairly steep trail to Missouri Lakes, the trail following the lovely Missouri Creek the whole way.
The vegetation was absolutely lush for the high Rockies because its been a good rain year in the high country. We saw Indian Paintbrush that was the most lovely magenta color…a shade I've never seen. There were also abundant Bluebells and Harebells, and rocks and trees, and almost no humidity! I love the West! Kate, Sue and I were joined by our son in law Stephen, and it was a great group to travel with. It rained a little after we had the tents up, but cleared quickly and gave us a beautiful sunset that lit up the surrounding mountains. That's right, we were SURROUNDED by mountains!!! That made us all really happy, and I could feel the scales and burdens falling away as we gained altitude and my eyes feasted on the high country. This place gives me renewed life, and I was absolutely loving it.
Day two had us climbing to Missouri Pass, the last part of which had me kick-stepping in snow for Sue and Kate to follow. It was a good climb, but the rewards at the top were clearly worth it!
Stephen took a dip in the lake at the bottom of this pass which gave him "manly" bragging rights for the rest of the day. We then set our sights on climbing Fancy Pass on the way to our destination at Fancy Lake. Unlike many trails in UT that are designed for horse travel, these trails were not, so they were steep. Coloradans seem to believe in the adage that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and they don't worry about how steep or rocky that straight line is! The far side of Fancy Pass presented us with a snowfield descent. Normally, glissading down a snowfield would be a welcome thing to do, but with a fairly heavy backpack, that becomes pretty treacherous. But, we took our time and made it down safely.
Fancy Lake was a great place to stop for the night, and I trekked across the lake to take a shower in the waterfall on the far side (see below). Stephen said it did not equal his manly lake dip, but I was ok with that.
Day three took us on a side trip to an abandoned mining town, Holy Cross City. We met two old-timers there who agreed to let us take their picture.
The walk out was every bit as beautiful as the walk in, and I found myself going slower and slower, looking around and enjoying every sight, flower, cascade and the smell of fir trees. I simply did not want to leave! When we came to the last bridge crossing, I looked at Sue and asked, "Do we have to go?" Surprisingly to me, I had tears in my eyes as I asked that question. I really didn't want to leave! It had been such a blessed trip, with wonderful weather, wonderful companions, a wonderful absence of back pain, and a really wonderful loop trail. At one point I told Stephen, "this kind of stuff is enough to make a man never want to get a job again!" Here's to many, many more nights spent sleeping outside above 10,000 feet!