Snowy Mountain Backpacking

Photo by Kit Dunsmore
Photo by Kit Dunsmore

Last weekend, we intended to spend four nights camping in the Snowy Mountains near Medicine Bow Peak with friends. We picked an easy loop hike that would allow us to backpack in, camp for a few nights in one spot, and do interesting day hikes on side trails. One of the advantages of our choice was being able to start at high altitude, so that the hiking itself wasn’t all that strenuous. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.

The hiking itself was as intended – exercise, but not the backbreaking slogging that can go with climbing endless trails with a pack when you’re not really in shape to begin with. However, the area we picked for our first camp spot turned out much wetter than we realized. (There was a little “marshland” symbol on the map, but none of us noticed that…!). We were attacked by swarms of mosquitoes that made cooking and eating dinner so unpleasant that the teenagers with us were happy to forgo dessert in order to retreat into their tent.

Molly and Sarah before the Bugs. (Photo by Dana Geary)
Molly and Sarah before the Bugs. (Photo by Dana Geary)
Photo by Dana Geary
Photo by Dana Geary

We did have a net tent that we set up and used as a place to get a break from the mosquitoes. Even the dog learned the joy of being able to go into this shelter and get away from them.

The next morning wasn’t as bad, though it was still buggy. The girls did not want to stay out another night, so we packed up and hiked the rest of the loop to get back to the car. The day started well but it rained heavily all afternoon, making the last few hours of the hike cold and wet.

This picture of me only hints at how wet I was. I'm not wearing my hat any more because it was soaked through. (Photo by Dana Geary)
This picture of me only hints at how wet I was. I'm not wearing my hat because it was soaked through. (Photo by Dana Geary)
It's still raining, and the signs they are sitting by gave us the cheery news that we had almost 4 more miles to go. (Photo by Dana Geary)
It's still raining, and one of the signs they are sitting by gave us the cheery news that we had almost 4 more miles to go. (Photo by Dana Geary)

Remarkably, the scenery was still gorgeous. If it hadn’t been raining so hard, I’d have taken endless pictures. There were some things (like flowers) that I just couldn’t resist.

Photo by Dana Geary
Photo by Dana Geary

It was hard to get good pictures at all with the low light, but Dana got a couple that really captured the beauty of the place. I imagine the rainy part of our hike might be easily replicated in parts of Scotland (although I’m not so sure you would see snow…)

P1110724prettyLandscape_small
Photo by Dana Geary

We saw a little wildlife and lots of wildflowers.

A pine grosbeak that hung out with us in the parking lot. (Photo by Dana Geary)
A pine grosbeak that hung out with us in the parking lot. (Photo by Dana Geary)
Columbines (Photo by Kit Dunsmore)
Columbines (Photo by Kit Dunsmore)
Photo by Kit Dunsmore
Photo by Kit Dunsmore

I am dying to go back and stay longer, and I think we now have a better idea of which sections of the trail are likely to provide better camp sites. Maybe Kurt and I will head back up there before the year is out. He bought a Wyoming fishing license but didn’t get to use it.

More of my photos from this trip can be found on my Facebook page.

Author: Kit Dunsmore

Kit is a writer and an artist who adores living in Colorado. Whether she's hiking in the mountains or walking the prairies, she's always watching the wildlife in order to learn more about the natural world.

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