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Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunday, July 23, 2023 - Sunday, July 30, 2023 -- $1600 ★★★★


Everybody has heard of the incredible beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park but few have experienced the wonders of the magnificent mountains up close. On this trip, you will hike the quieter, more remote Tonahutu Loop on the West side of the Continental Divide.


But that doesn't mean you won't summit some high peaks. You'll hike to the top of Flattop Mountain at 12324' and scramble up to the summit of Hallett Peak, 12,713 before returning back down to complete the loop over a week.


The park is host to a wide variety of plants and animals including black bear, elk, coyote, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, marmot, white tailed ptarmigan, blue grouse, and beaver as well as Colorado Blue Spruce, Quaking Aspen, Lodgepole Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, and endless fields of redolent wildflowers.


Our trek begins in Grand lake at Green Ridge Campsite right on Grand lake. We head into the backcountry at somewhat nearby Green Mountain Trailhead, elevation 8780' hopefully staving off the effects of altitude as we climb. Staying hydrated will help. up toward the Continental Divide. We'll hike clockwise and head up to the picturesque and largely treeless Continental Divide, summiting Flattop Mountain (12324') along the way. If time and thunderstorms permit, we will summit 12713' Hallett Peak. Then we will loop back around via remote and beautiful Nanita Lake before returning to Grand Lake. Along the way, we will approach and descend scenic backcountry trails which provide breathtaking vistas that car bound tourists just can't access.


The short Summer season is prime time to visit the Rockies, so why not join us?


Here is a topographic map of our proposed route.



Weather

Weather is always an important concern when hiking. Summer is the ideal time to hike in the Rockies. Expect daytime hiking temperatures into the 70s and 80s and nighttime temperatures in the 40s & 50s. However, be prepared for the possibility of daytime temperatures into the high 80s and nights below freezing at elevation (possibly accompanied by a lot of wind). There are also ubiquitous afternoon thunderstorms (often with hailstorms) at high elevations that are to be avoided for safety (and comfort) reasons. Here are the historical weather averages Be prepared with sun protection and water containers that add up to 4 liters of capacity.



Probable Trip Leaders

Guide(s) TBD

Difficulty

The trails through the Rockies often have good footing but elevation changes can be drastic. This implies more difficulty but also higher, unimpeded views. Furthermore, those arriving from lower elevations may have difficulty with the altitude. Our first day in Denver should help ... so will staying super hydrated, but it will still take a few days to fully acclimate. Distances will be kept below 11.5 miles per day (our longest day).



Cost

$1600 per person double occupancy. Here, double occupancy means that you will share a room with another participant during the hotel night. You will also be responsible for transportation to and from Denver International Airport (DEN), personal equipment, restaurant meals eaten off the trail and any gratuities for guides.


Covered expenses include 1 hotel night, 1 frontcountry campground night, park entrance fees (but bring a park pass if you have one), 6 days of trail meals, ground transportation to/from the park, National Park permits and awesome guides.


Tipping: In order to keep our prices competitive with (and hopefully favorable to) other outfitters, we shamefully can’t pay our guides as much as we think they deserve. Like most other guiding services, we rely on the generosity of our participants to make up this shortfall by tipping the guides. While tips are not required or expected, if your guides have served you well, please consider a gratuity so they can continue living their extravagant lifestyles of eating powdered meals, sleeping in the dirt and pooping in smelly outhouses and small holes they've dug.



Notes

The itinerary you see here is our proposed itinerary and may be changed by the park. The park begins awarding backcountry permits on March 1, 2023 so we may end up running this trip in a different part of the park


There may be snow at higher elevations. Please be prepared for walking through an occasional snowfield or snow squall.


Rocky Mountain National Park requires us to carry Bear Canisters which can be cumbersome. However they are effective at protecting food plus you can sit on them.


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Itinerary
Weather
Guides for this trip
Cost
Important Note
Difficulty (Please Read)

Itinerary


Sunday, July 23, 2023

Fly into Denver International Airport (DEN) or drive into Denver. The best time to arrive is between 9AM-1PM. However, if you have been on our trips before and can be ready to go quickly, later will work as well.


Take free airport shuttle to airport hotel to meet up and gather (TBD)


Mini equipment shakedown, checking that you brought everything you covered during the pre-trip virtual shakedown


Make your own trail mix bar


"Before" body composition measurements taken


Go to Denver Flagship REI Store, 1416 Platte St, Denver, CO 80202, (303) 756-3100 for forgotten and last minute equipment purchase


All the items that you won't bring on the trail will be set aside and put in storage.


Our shuttle vehicle(s) depart around 4PM toward Grand Lake. Along the way, go out for dinner at a local restaurant (cost of dinner not included in trip cost)


When we get to Grand Lake, we will camp at Green Ridge Campground. site(s) TBD.



Monday, July 24, 2023

Second set of "before" body composition measurements taken


Shuttle to Grand Lake Entrance. You'll probably have about 20 minutes of unstructured time while guides do permitting paperwork.


If you have a National Park Pass, please bring it


Begin hiking at Green Mountain Trailhead, elevation 8770'


Hike 6.1 miles via Onahu Creek to Sunset Group Site, elevation 9550'


Camp at Sunset Group Site Campsite, elevation 9550'.


Miles today: 6.1. Total miles: 6.1


Possible bailout: Onahu Creek


Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Hike 3.5 miles to the Haynatch Lakes Trail, elevation 10375'


Drop packs and Day-Hike 3.0 round trip miles to the Haynatch Lakes, elevation 11185'


Hike 0.4 miles to the Timberline Group Site, elevation 10570'


Camp at Timberline Group Site, elevation 10570'.


Miles today: 6.9. Total miles: 13.0


Possible bailout: Green Mountain Trailhead


Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Awaken and leave camp early in anticipation of summiting before any afternoon thunderstorms roll in


Hike 4.2 miles to the summit of Flattop Mountain, elevation 12324'


Congratulations! You are now atop the Contiental Divide


Hike 0.2 miles to a trail sign, elevation 12325' (Flattop is pretty flat)


Drop packs and rock scramble 0.8 miles to the summit of Hallett Peak, elevation 12,713'


Hike 3.3 switchbacked downhill miles to July Group Site, elevation 10775'


Camp at July Group Site, elevation 10775'


Miles today: 8.5. Total miles: 21.5


Possible bailout: Bear Lake on the East Side of the park


Thursday, July 27, 2023

Hike 2.2 downhill miles to a trail junction, elevation 9,510'


Drop packs and day-hike 8.0 miles to Lake Nanita, elevation 11125'


Lunch at Lake Nanita


Hike 0.9 downhill miles to North Inlet Group Site, elevation 9,290'


Camp at North Inlet Group Site Campsite, elevation 9290'


Fires permitted in fire ring, although we probably won't have one after a long day


Miles today: 11.1. Total miles: 32.6


Possible bailout: One day away


Friday, July 28, 2023

Hike 6.2 downhill miles to the North Inlet Trailhead, elevation 8525'


Hike 3.5 uphill miles to Paintbrush Group Site, elevation 8320'


Camp at Paintbrush Group Site Campsite, elevation 9600'


Miles today: 9.7. Total miles: 42.3


Possible bailout: Grand Lake


Saturday, July 29, 2023

Break camp and hike 3.0 miles back to the Green Mountain Trailhead, elevation 8780'


End of hiking portion of trip


Miles today: 3.0. Total miles: Hiking 45.3


Shuttle back to hotel near Denver Airport TBD


Gather your off-trail items from storage


After body composition measurements taken


Dinner and awards Ceremony (Dinner cost not included in trip price)


This is the official end of the trip. You are welcome to spend the night at the hotel, however if you drove and would like to get on the road or if you flew and would like to schedule a late flight (or a red-eye if this is a West Coast trip) you can definitely do so.


Sunday, July 30, 2023

Take free airport shuttle or we will pay for a shared cab/Uber


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