Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Solstice Camping and Hiking at St Mary's Glacier

Backpacking, camping and hiking at St Mary's glacier for summer solstice. With the temperatures climbing and summer officially here the need and pull to get out and backpack,
camp and hike has been strong. This past weekend we planned a quick overnight camping and hiking at St Mary's Glacier. The plan was to take advantage of the easy access and get to altitude.

St Mary's Glacier is accessible from Boulder and Denver Colorado right off of I 70. From Boulder it is only one hour and fifteen minutes to park at the access. This trip we had not done for about two years and we were surprised when we discovered there is now pay parking, at $5 a day now. The camping is still free wiht no permits required and access to the base of the glacier is less than a mile hike from the parking. The path is clearly marked and is a quick trip straight up to the lake and glacier.

It is always my preference to camp right at the base of the glacier by the running creek that empties into the lake. The sound of the running water is a very soothing sound for evening sleeping. This year with the abundant snowfall from this past winter there is still plenty of skiing and the very steep chutes are skiable this year and seldom have I seen this skiing available in late June.

The views are spectacular and provides quick access to elevation, snow and a getaway from the city. From here we planned a hike to the top of James Peak at 13,400. That was the hike for the next day. Once you have climbed past the top of the glacier and snowfields you enter a high alpine tundra that is easy hiking to the base of James Peak and surrounding peaks that provide a dramatic view and vista. The wild flowers are just starting to bloom as snow is still melting.

The area is slowly growing as there is also an effort to reopen the ski area just below the hiking
access. Now there is also an inn in the little town past the parking and hiking access. Another popular activity includes the fishing in the lake.