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Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains
Picture of Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains

Alpine Backpacking in the Snowy Mountains

Destination: Snowy Mountains, Wyoming

Wyoming's Snowy Range is one of the most picturesque places in the United States -- and a well-kept secret! Located in the Medicine Bow National Forest in the southeast quarter of Wyoming, the jagged peaks rising above the crystal water of dozens of small alpine lakes, fields of brilliantly colored wild flowers, and unique rock formations dotting the landscape all make for a spectacular area to backpack. Add in a gentle grade to the high country and you have a fantastic location for women who want to experience backpacking in the alpine without substantial hiking uphill. This is a moderate trip with a focus on acquiring or refining backpacking skills as well as just enjoying alpine beauty. ;

Highlights

  • Backpacking in a spectacular alpine environment
  • Learning basic backpacking and naturalist skills
  • Having time to relax and explore away from crowds
  • Ending the trip with a good soak in hot springs

Departures and Prices

August 16 to August 22, 2020
$1795.00 - Available
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Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Two nights double occupancy lodging and four nights camping
  • All meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 7
  • Transportation from Denver to Snowy Mountains and back
  • Group camping, cooking, and safety equipment
Not included: Airfare to Denver, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, personal backpacking equipment including backpacks and sleeping bags (these can be rented from the Denver REI)

Details

This trip is appropriate for women in good condition who want to learn or refine backpacking skills in a spectacular alpine setting. This is a moderately paced backpacking trip and women looking for a strenuous backpack should consider our Section Hiking the Appalachian Trail backpacking trip.

This is a backpacking trip where you carry everything you need on your back and camp in the wilderness. No previous backpacking experience is required.

We'll spend two nights in double occupancy hotel rooms and four nights in two-women tents

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Arrive Denver (DEN) anytime. We will be spending the first night at a hotel with an airport shuttle. We will not be formally gathering as a group this evening and it's yours to spend as you choose.
DAY 2
We all gather at the hotel at 9 a.m. for our offical first group meeting. Before leaving Denver, we will take time to review the essentials of backpacking equipment, including what to bring, packing, and getting the best personal fit for your backpack. Most people discover that carrying 30 pounds is very manageable with a properly fitting backpack. We'll stop at Denver's "LoDo" district with an opportunity to purchase last minute gear at the REI Flagship store, or take a walk along the South Platte River for those who don't want to shop. We then head north for a 3-hour drive to an established Forest Service campsite at Vedauwoo, Wyoming. Pronounced "vee-da-voo", our campsite is surrounded by aspen and pine forests as well as giant granite boulders and rock-outcroppings that are popular with rock climbers. After dinner we'll take a hike among the jumbled rocks, with an opportunity to try "bouldering", which is practicing rock climbing movement near the ground.
DAY 3
After an early breakfast and practice packing up camp, we take a beautiful 2-hour drive through part of the Snowy Mountain Scenic Byway. We'll drive through sagebrush prairie at the lower elevations to lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forests. The Snowy Range, at 9,000' to 12,000' feet above sea level, is aptly named for the heavy annual snowfall and striking white granite peaks. To help us acclimatize to the 10,000 foot elevation, we will stay another night at an established Forest Service campground. We'll go for an altitude acclimatizing hike of 2-3 miles through spires of Englemann spruce trees and fields of colorful wildflowers.
After our hike we will continue to learn backpacking basics such as Leave No Trace ethics, and heath and safety preparation for the backcountry including altitude illness prevention, sanitation, water purification, foot care, cooking in the backcountry and more.
DAY 4
Putting everything we've learned into practice, this morning we pack up all our gear and carry everything we need about 4 miles through spectacular scenery into the backcountry near Gap Lakes. Glaciers gouged this area thousands of year ago, creating lake after lake. Today many snowfields remain all summer, gripping the mountain slopes and hanging over many of the lakes, white snow contrasting with blue water. The trail is rocky in some places and soft tundra in others. Gradually we hike up to a meadow protected by trees to our primitive campsite. We'll backpack past trees twisted by the harsh alpine environment, known as "Krummholz" or "bent trees" and a beautiful array of wildflowers, true highlights of the alpine scenery. Medicine Bow Peak rising to 12,013 feet is the highest point in the range and provides a great landmark during most of our journey. A variety of birds, such as the Clark's Nutcracker, chickadee, and hairy woodpecker will become familiar as well as the squeaks, whistles and chubby bodies of the small alpine marmots and pikas. Moose, elk, deer, pronghorn antelope, beaver, and pine martins also live in the wilds here.  After creating a Leave No Trace campsite, we will have time for exploration, fishing, wildflower i.d., or map and compass skills, depending on individual interests. Dinner is gourmet, backpacking style, and those who want to practice cooking in the backcountry are welcome to help.
DAY 5
We plan to stay at the same campsite tonight, so we can explore the spectacular area without carrying our full loads. We have a variety of choices for the day, including climbing Brown's Peak, taking a refreshing dip in one of the lakes, exploring routes to other alpine lakes such as Sheep Lake for fishing, or nature exploration. There are many small lakes nestled against high escarpments that are home to rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout -making this trip a great opportunity to practice angling skills. Anyone interested can learn backcountry cooking skills while helping to create another tasty feast for dinner. Weather permitting, star gazing is fantastic at this elevation!
DAY 6
After breakfast we pack-up and hike back to our starting point. We will enjoy a last alpine lake-side lunch and then drive about an hour to Saratoga, Wyoming to soak our muscles in the "Place of the Magic Water" at Saratoga Inn Hot Springs. The Inn has a hot spring-fed swimming pool and soaking tubs covered by teepees – a unique western experience! Our last night celebration dinner will be at a local restaurant and we will undoubtedly enjoy sleeping in soft beds tonight.
DAY 7
We drive back to Denver today, stopping for lunch and a short last hike near Prospect Ponds. We'll be back at the airport by 4 p.m. and you can plan flights out after 5:30pm

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