One of my favorite things to do in Colorado is overnight backpacking trips. The physical challange, the sense of accomplishment and the quiet relaxation are all food for the soul! On this occasion Charlie and I decided to take the Jasper Lake trail, just out side of Nederland, a place where many spectacular trails begin. The total trip length is a moderate 9 mile round trip with just under 2000 feet total elevation gain. In my opinion trails of this length are perfect for an overnight camping trip as you are able to get up to the top early enough to enjoy the quiet wilderness.
The trail starts at the Hessie Trailhead and takes you though the Indian Peaks Wilderness with epic views of Mt Jasper, Mt Neva and Klondike Mountain in the distance. The ascent is pretty even most of the way up with only a few moderate switchbacks as you wind through meadows and dense woods. We went up this trail in June, this time of year you will need a permit and I have to admit we forgot to secure such permit. So we treked up the mountain knowing we may have to pay at minimum a fine of $100 but luckily we never ran into a ranger. I would not recommend doing this as I feel the only reason we didn't see more rangers is there was an unseasonable amount of snow still on the mountain. As we got nearer and nearer to the lake we got deeper and deeper in snow. In some parts the snow was as high as I am tall, but we continued and hoped there would be some clear areas near lake Jasper that would give us refuge.
The right gear is paramount when you are staying overnight in altitude. We barely found a dry space, although our gear would have faired fine on snow, where we set up our Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy Sacks with Nemo Sonic 0 Bags and Sea to Summit mats slipped inside. At this point I'm pretty sure we have stock in REI, but having light gear that packs down small and keeps you warm and dry has changed camping and motorcycle travel for us. Not only is it effective it is quality made and with the warranties the gear will keep us happy for a long time.
The sunset that evening was unreal with vibrant reds and oranges that mimiced its brilliance in the lake. We sat in awe sipping coffee from our camp chairs in near seclusion. This is the reason we do what we do and after taking it all in we drifted off to sleep early. We sleep early because then you can wake up in the middle of the night in order to take in the stars that are unreal when you are this close to them. Other than the dog having a midnight freak out (our first time camping with her without a tent) the night could not have been more perfect!