With some of her recent business travel having taken place on weekends, Peg felt it was high (no pun intended, as you will soon read) time take some comp time.
The activity of choice: hiking.
The location: the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area of the Roosevelt National Forest. (Where's that you ask? Short answer: about 35 minutes west of here.)
The lucky person who got to join her: me.
After getting Chloe on the bus, we jumped in the car and headed to the trailhead. As we approached it, we noticed a couple of things: 1) it was about 10 degrees warmer back at the house, 2) the road was closed about 0.5 mile before the trailhead, so our hike just became that much longer (times 2) and we may not have time to reach the summit of Mt. Audubon (13,221 ft.) and still get back in time to meet Chloe at the bus stop and 3) man, it sure was a beautiful area. Because 2/3 of the trail was to be above treeline, we weren't too concerned about reaching the summit because we knew we'd have views for most of the hike. And we couldn't have been more right.
Even when amongst the various evergreens, the views were great as we went through a couple of switchbacks. The trees not only became more sparse as we climbed, but as we continued on, we noticed they also became noticeably smaller and twisted. We learned from the hiking cue sheet that these latter characteristics are indicative of a krummholz formation. And indeed, as we approached the timberline, we felt more wind hitting us, but also more sunlight. Once in the alpine tundra, the views were everywhere... plains to the East, and mounts and peaks everywhere else.
After about 2.5 hours of uphill, we found ourselves at 11,900 feet and beginning to notice the effects of it, too. Rather than rush to do the final 1.25 miles/1,321 feet and risk missing Chloe getting off the bus, we felt it was a good place to take a break and eat our lunch before heading back down.
(Pictures, top to bottom: Brainard Lake and some of the Indian Peaks; some of the views as we headed back down; a pretty good place to have lunch; one happy hiker.)