Trail Thursday: Tips For Staying Warm Backpacking In The Fall & Wednesday Recap!

Happy Friday-eve! I’ve been brainstorming what to write about today since I’ve kinda run out of trails to recap (or at least I THINK I have for the moment…), but then I got to thinking on my run this morning how fun backpacking in the Fall is (but staying warm is always a HUGE factor in whether or not you enjoy the experience)! So that’s what I’m sharing today- some things that I’ve learned to stay warm out there and still enjoy the crisp air.

Speaking of crisp air….it was COLD this morning 28* to start my run and unfortunately it’s going to get COLDER before it gets warmer (i.e. 9* is the LOW for Sunday night?!?). 7.25 miles plus some strides for a total of 7.65 to kick off Thursday. I’m getting more and more excited for our trip to Lake Powell NEXT weekend - the high there right now is looking to be around 60 and low in the upper 40s…amazing.

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Yesterday I tried out a new look at the salon…kidding. I just got some highlights since we’re planning on getting our engagement photos done tomorrow!

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Also Brady is continually fascinated by the Fridge. I am slightly concerned that one morning we’re going to shut him in there and forget (and he’ll be stuck in the fridge the entire day). Hopefully this will NEVER happen.

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So I’m pretty much always cold (my fingers and toes are just freezing at all times…sometimes even on the warmest Summer days!), so staying warm (especially when backpacking) is kinda my speciality.

One thing that I always bring with me whether camping, backpacking, or anytime of the year really (sometimes I wish I could snuggle up in it at home too…) - I love my Big Agnes Ethel 0*

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A warm cup of coffee. I love to carry along a mason jar (normally fill it with water, but ya know…sometimes it’s wine instead) with a koozie for those warmer drinks. Also hot cocoa for dessert (especially when you can’t have a campfire) - Ah-maz-ing.

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Warmer socks x 2. I have a tendency to somehow always get my feet wet when hiking in, so 2 pairs of socks (regardless of weather) is always necessary. When it’s expected to be really cold out, I wear 2 pairs of socks to sleep and also tuck in a pair of the Hand (or toe) warmers in between my sock layers. Also a water bottle filled with hot water also feels amazing.

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A warm tent. We have the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV Ultra Light Mtn Glow (which isn’t the best for super chilly temperatures, but we made due with extra layers).

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Leggings. I love leggings and probably would wear them everyday if I could. Skirts + leggings = a cute, comfy look that I rock way too often in the winter/ late Fall. I sleep in them and then pop them on with my skort in the morning hours before we leave our campsite (super easy to take them off too when it warms up later in the morning).

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A warm coat that can fold up into itself. My Big Agnes Shovelhead jacket folds into its interior pocket and feels like I’m wearing a sleeping bag every time I slip it on. If it’s really cold out, I also will keep it inside my sleeping for extra warmth.

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I will definitely disclose that my boyfriend, Alex, works at Big Agnes so we did get killer deals on all of their products (which is why we literally have so many coats/ tents/ sleeping bags etc.), BUT all of the items are my absolute favorites to use when backpacking regardless.

How do you stay warm when camping outdoors in the Fall?

What’s the weather like where you are?

Sleeping bags- love ‘em or hate ‘em?


Trail Thursday: Timber Lake Backpacking In Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park!

Happy Friday eve! I’m so excited to share with you some of the photos from our backpacking trip last weekend in Rocky Mountain National Park. We booked our overnight camping permit about a month ago on their website here. Alex or I had never done any sort of Wilderness camping where you needed a permit, so we were both a bit excited and nervous! It was so easy to book the site and navigate through their website to find the best location for us on the date that we were looking for (plus it was inexpensive too! $26 to book online). I ended up booking Snowbird site at Timber Lake because it was a relatively do-able distance for us (4.6 miles 2,000’ gain), close to the lake, and close to the Grand Lake entrance of the park (closer to our home!). It ended up being National Parks Day on Saturday so the park and trailhead was busier than we expected, but it wasn’t anything unmanageable. We picked up our permit at the Kawanachee Visitors Center around 11:15am and got to trailhead before noon! We ate the sandwiches that we had picked up at Natural Grocers earlier in the morning and headed out. The Ranger that gave us our permit said to be on the lookout for Moose (they were rumored to be active in this area) and that the hike would take us 4-5 hours. We were hopeful we could get to the site around 3pm!

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

The trail to Snowbird site was so beautiful and well-maintained. I honestly think it was one of the best trails I’ve been on since moving to Colorado 5 years ago!

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We crossed over several streams, but there were great man-made footbridges which made it easy.

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It was also a pretty gradual ascent (hard, but still do-able if you’re used to the elevation) for most of the hike which was nice since we had our heavy backpacks on!

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At mile 2.6, we made it to the Active Landslide area. I had read reviews where most people went around the landslide, but that it was very steep and difficult. We looked at the landslide area (it was short - maybe 1/10 mile long (if that))- gravel and a few downed trees to go over and under, but we decided to give it a try! It was definitely trickier with our backpacks on and I think that if the trail was wet at all or if we were just beginning our hiking/backpacking season then it would have been much more difficult/near impossible. We made it to the other side (thankfully) and soon arrived at the Long Meadows trailhead.

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At this point, the trail climbs up a bit steeper (with several switchbacks) and you never really get a great view of the Never Summer Wilderness region. Another mile or so past the trail crossing, we came to the Jackstraw site (it was unavailable this year) and to the open meadow (SO BEAUTIFUL).

We knew that once we hit this site that we were getting close (our mileage said we were around 4.5 miles and ~2,800’ in gain)!

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We crossed by the privy and at this point the trail subsides a bit and rolls in-and-out of the forest and meadow area, until we arrived at Snowbird site! Our mileage said that we were at 5.0 miles and gained 3,000’ in elevation (a bit off from the designated site details). We arrived at our site at 2:55pm and I think we really made excellent time. We didn’t stop too much coming out, but I was definitely TIRED once we got there!

Rockslide area right by our campsite!

Rockslide area right by our campsite!

We set up our tent, sleeping bags & pads, and gathered our chairs/books/cameras to head to Timber Lake around 4pm. Once we got there, we were the only ones! It was so beautiful- the photos absolutely do not do it justice. The lake was about a 5 minute hike from Snowbird campsite.

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We turned in relatively early (both had a mild case of (what we think) Altitude sickness, a bit of nausea) and had all of the winter layers since it was anticipated to get down to around 30* that night!

Thankfully we packed all the layers (plus hand warmers which I put on my toes!), so we weren’t too chilled when we woke up the next morning. We retrieved our bear box (necessary for the wilderness camping) that we set out 70 steps from our campsite the night before and made coffee (always tastes so much better outdoors!)/ a Mountain House for breakfast.

We both wanted to get back home, so we packed up pretty quickly and were out hiking back by 7:45am! It was still chilly for the first 2-3 miles so I kept my mittens and down jacket on for a bit.

Good Morning!

Good Morning!

We made it out of the trailhead by 10am and only met a handful of hikers heading out onto the trails. The other snowbird site was never filled and overall it was so peaceful! We got a bunch of reading done and the beauty of the Fall Foliage during the hike was spectacular. It is definitely longer than the NPS suggests, but I think you should be able to make it to the Lake within 3.5-4 hours even if moving at a gentle pace. The biggest factor in this trail is making sure to be prepared (you have zero cell service) for all weather conditions (including First Aid/ food/ layers) and going through the landslide area (it is pretty dicey for anyone who is not experienced or if the trail conditions are even a bit damp/ frosty).

Navigating the Landslide area with all.the.layers

Navigating the Landslide area with all.the.layers

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Overall- I’d highly recommend backpacking out in Rocky Mountain! The trails were so well-maintained. We didn’t see any wildlife (slightly disappointed), but I know it’s out there so please remember to leave no trace when hiking and respect the animals who call these places home.

Some of the many Fall colors we came across!

Some of the many Fall colors we came across!

Mountain Monday!

Happy Mountain Monday (is this a thing, yes I believe it is)! Once I heard about #mountainmonday, I knew I had to incorporate this into my corner of the internet because I LOVE MOUNTAINS and beautiful things that you are only able to see from hiking!

This week to kick off this new series, I am sharing with you one of my first experiences with backpacking (no, I didn't just grow up backpacking through the mountains believe it or not) through the Zirkel Circle in NW Colorado. This is a FANTASTICALLY BEAUTIFUL hike and the views are stunning, but it is not easy! I believe the hike is around 11.5 miles and includes some serious vertical (we did the circle in the clockwise direction- the only way I'd recommend it), but also some pretty fun downhill!

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We did this trip from a Friday-Saturday, so headed out on the trail later on Friday evening. I believe we made it maybe 3 or 4 miles in before we decided to pitch up camp for the evening and we would finish out the circle on Saturday. It's always so difficult to find a flat spot for your tent when backpacking and we haven't had TOO much luck thus far (unless it's been a pretty utilized trail system for backpacking). 

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Since this was one of our first backpacking adventures, we had our food all over our backpacks (not organized & not recommended) and carried WAY too much in general. We've since switched over to almost all Mountain House freeze-dried meals (they're actually really good) and keep our food in one dry-bag to make it easy to pack up the next morning (and hang our food at night). 

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We also have previously had a lot of trouble hanging our food, but gotten better at it with having just one large (22+ gallon dry bag) and a very long rope. We used to split our food into multiple food bags and have rope-like material (also not recommended). 

I was so concerned that we were going to get eaten by a Mountain Lion that I think I slept for maybe 3 hours that night (I've gotten way better at just believing that no animal will "get us") and we headed out to finish the circle bright and early. The entire trail brings your around the first lake that you come to and up and over a pretty high ridgeline (with spectacular views). The trails between the two lakes have some amazing campsites if you're able to get to that point before turning in for the evening. 

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Some things we always bring backpacking with us:

  • Rope
  • Large dry-bag
  • headlamps (1 per person)
  • book of some sort
  • JetBoil
  • Map of trails
  • Compass
  • Bear Spray
  • Water & lots of it
  • Snacks!
    • My favorite snacks are: Honey Stinger Gels, Almonds, Starbursts, Dried Pineapple, Larabars, Luna Bars, Pop Tarts
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Ever gone backpacking before? Have any good secrets or suggestions? What's some things that you always bring backpacking with you?