Reflections on the Collegiate Loop

My 16-year-old son Samuel and I completed this loop over 11 nights/12 days in the summer of 2021. The daily adventures are captured in other blog posts on this site. This post aims to provide background in the hope that it might guide or even inspire others. It is a fantastic hike but is bestContinue reading “Reflections on the Collegiate Loop”

Collegiate Loop Day 12 – Hunt Lake to Monarch Crest

Our last day of the loop. The weather was kind, but an unexpected detour briefly dampened spirits. We were not going to let is get us down: Up at 5. There had been beautiful stars and moon earlier. Tent was very wet but we packed everything up with a new energy knowing today was theContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 12 – Hunt Lake to Monarch Crest”

Collegiate Loop Day 11 – North Fork Chalk Creek to Hunt Lake

With CW03 behind us, the biggest challenge had been accomplished. This day brought peaceful beauty and great variety: Difficult to get up at 5. Samuel has slept well while Peter had had a restless night. Fixed breakfast but the oatmeal is getting old. We’re all tired and slow but at least everything was dry thisContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 11 – North Fork Chalk Creek to Hunt Lake”

Collegiate Loop Day 10 – Cottonwood Pass to North Fork Chalk Creek

The night wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It stayed above freezing and the wind did not pick up. It felt like it would be quite exposed in high winds. So, the day had come when we spent the whole day above tree line. Woo hoo: Up at 5. P got up atContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 10 – Cottonwood Pass to North Fork Chalk Creek”

Collegiate Loop Day 9 – Apostle Trail Junction to Cottonwood Pass

Today was about Lake Ann pass and getting ourselves staged for the 15 miles above tree line in CW03. It was always going to be a long, ambitious hike to get to Cottonwood Pass, but there isn’t much flexibility when doing CW. Here is how it went: Up at 4:30 but with everything so wetContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 9 – Apostle Trail Junction to Cottonwood Pass”

Collegiate Loop Day 8 -Willis Gulch to Apostle Trail Junction

It had been great spending some time with Paul (and enjoying the use of his truck for trips to stores and a hotel in Salida!), which was a good indicator for the trip. We struggled to “land” on the right plan, working around the constraints of Hope Pass, Lake Ann Pass, the 15 miles ofContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 8 -Willis Gulch to Apostle Trail Junction”

Collegiate Loop Day 7 – Cache Creek to Interlaken Trailhead

It had been a rainy evening. While we were dry inside the tent, the tent and tarp were soaking. This was when we started to realize how good Paul’s suggestion would be to have a night in a hotel to dry out and cleanup. But we still had to get to the trailhead: Up atContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 7 – Cache Creek to Interlaken Trailhead”

Collegiate Loop Day 6 – Harvard Lakes to Cache Creek

We knew we had to hike over 24 miles in the next ~24 hours to meet Paul. Our plan had been to stay night 6 on the shores of Twin Lakes, close to the CT/CDT trail split, but I was unsure we’d get that far. It was an option, but in the end we choseContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 6 – Harvard Lakes to Cache Creek”

Collegiate Loop Day 5 – Yale Saddle to Harvard Lakes

After the side trip up Yale, the rest of the day was just about getting to a campsite. The constraint now was arriving at the Interlaken trailhead at about 9am on day 7. There did not seem to be good sites for a while beyond Harvard Lakes, so that was the target, but that wasContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 5 – Yale Saddle to Harvard Lakes”

Collegiate Loop Day 5 – Yale Side Trip

While not part of the loop, this side trip was a highlight. Yale was our first 14er, at 14,199ft, and the conditions were perfect, and emphasized by the previous evening’s weather. While it was less than 5 miles, it took nearly 7 hours. I found the boulder hopping particularly tiring, but otherwise this route wasContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 5 – Yale Side Trip”

Collegiate Loop Day 4 – Cottonwood Creek to Yale Saddle

We had agreed that the plan was Yale for day 5, so day 4 was short, but with a long climb with as much water as we could carry (7l total). So we could take it easy and enjoy the hike: Good nights sleep. P did not have to pee. Alarm at 6. P upContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 4 – Cottonwood Creek to Yale Saddle”

Collegiate Loop Day 3 – Browns Creek to Cottonwood Creek

Day 3 ended up being a key decision day for the Yale side trip on day 5. During the planning, I had gone back and forth. It had looked like a great trip, but the loop was our primary objective. I had been concerned about my calf injury, so had concluded before departure that weContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 3 – Browns Creek to Cottonwood Creek”

Collegiate Loop Day 2 – Fooses Creek to Browns Creek

Day 2 felt good. We’d approached the first day carefully, wanting to ensure we did not overdo it, and succeeded. Wanted to remain cautious for day 2. An early start provides greater flexibility later in the day. The plan had been a conservative 12-mile day, and we saw viable 15-mile and 18-mile camping options. SoContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 2 – Fooses Creek to Browns Creek”

Collegiate Loop Day 1 – Monarch Crest to Fooses Creek

This is the first of the daily journals from the Collegiate Loop which were written on the trail. I dictated to Samuel each night, who wrote it up on his phone which worked well. Well at least it did for me! Other than obvious typos, I have left the text as the original to preserveContinue reading “Collegiate Loop Day 1 – Monarch Crest to Fooses Creek”