Mount Sopris is a beautiful peak right outside Carbondale, CO. Our backpacking trip to the summit was such a spontaneous adventure and one of the most memorable because we just went exploring and figured it out along the way.
You don’t always need a plan, you just need to go.
What I’ve learned in life is that you can’t wait around for moments to come to you. You have to go out and create them for yourself. You don’t need much, not even a plan. And you certainly don’t have to be ready. When we planned our backpacking trip up Sopris Mountain we didn’t even have half the gear we needed! All we had planned was to hike Sopris and have a good time! All we knew was that there was no better time than now. The day before we hit the trail we ran to our local gear shop and grabbed all the things we needed, including packs, sleep bags and pads, food, jet boils, and some miscellaneous items. We were set for this spontaneous adventure, and it only got better from there.
My brothers, Kenny and Dally, and I, along with two of our friends, Katie and Bodhi, set out for a 3 day 2 night hiking trip up Mount Sopris. Mount Sopris stands at 12,966 feet in elevation. Though it’s not the tallest peak in Colorado it is one of the more difficult ones. Growing up in Glenwood Springs, CO I’ve been staring out at Mount Sopris for the past 17 years and never summited the peak. I was stoked I had this opportunity to see my town after all those years from the top of Sopris.
The hike from the trailhead to Thomas Lake wasn’t too difficult. Being my first time hiking with a large full pack I was pretty tired out once I got to the lake though. Thankfully that was were we had planned to camp. We set up our tents and hammocks before going exploring around the lake. Thomas Lake was a beautiful clear blue color, it was amazing! From there you could see the peaks of Mount Sopris. It was so peaceful I literally could spend forever there.
We walked around the entire lake taking in all the beauty we could before going back to camp to eat dinner. As the sun set a swarm of mosquitoes came out. We had to cover up head to toe and eat dinner fast. Mountain House meals make dinner for these types of trips easy! All you have to do is boil water and add it to the freeze dried meal. After about 10 minutes it’ll be ready to eat. I think they actually tasted quite delicious.
In the morning we leisurely got up. With no schedule we took our time. We packed only what we needed and left the camp set up. We started hiking by noon. About 2 miles into the trail it starts to get really steep. Then it turns into a bunch of loose rocks that you have to scramble through. We took plenty of breaks and found a really cool cliff side to eat lunch on top. We spent another hour or so eating and enjoying the incredible view. Without any sunscreen on we ended up pretty red afterwards. As we continued to climb we could feel the air getting thinner. It got harder to breathe and I was definitely getting light headed. We all ran out of water too. Pushing the limits of our sore tired bodys we kept going determined to reach the summit.
“Finally,” we all thought as we approached the summit but we were bummed when we saw another summit in the distance, blocking some of our view. They call the first one West Peak and the second, East Peak. Our body’s hated us when we set out to reach the summit of the second peak as well. Again … finally! We actually made it this time and we could see the entire valley! Seeing Glenwood from Sopris meant everything to me. It’s all about seeing the world from a different perspective, even if you’ve seen it a million times before. It was absolutely incredible.
We stayed at the summit for a long time. Chilling, stacking rocks, losing ourselves in the view, and taking pictures. We had nothing better to do. As the sun started to set we thought that was our que to start heading back. And at this point we desperately needed water. Luckily at the top there was still some snow so using the jet boil we melted the snow and then filtered it out using our Geigerrigs. Soon enough everyone had some water and we set out to make our descent.
The most amazing thing happened not too long after. We watched the full moon rise as we hiked the ridge. The moon was huge! I was in complete awe. With a sunset on one side and a full moon on the other and massive peaks in between I felt fully alive standing on the top of the world.
I thought just leave me here, I could die happy here.
The rest of the hike down we were guided by the glow of the full moon.. And Kenny with his machete in front. We all also had head lamps but unfortunately neither of these saved me from slipping and twisting my ankle. The rest of the hike down was painful. The 5 of us eventually made it back to camp by 12am.
The next morning we packed the tents and everything back into our packs and headed down the trail. Saying goodbye to this beautiful area and saying hello to the next adventure.