Finding Summer in the Never Summers, Colorado
Recently, I did another quick overnight backpacking trip into the high country. This time I was much closer to home in the underrated Never Summer Mountains in northern Colorado. Despite the majority of Never Summers being contained within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, this unique range often gets overlooked when compared to many of the other mountain ranges in the state. One potential reason for this is that there are no peaks exceeding 13,000 feet. The range's tallest peak, Mount Richthofen, comes in just shy at 12,945 feet. It also requires going over multiple mountain passes to reach it from the Denver metro area. Whatever the reason, I am certainly okay with keeping the Never Summers wild.
For this trip, I began on the northern end of the range starting from Cameron Pass. Cameron Pass is very popular spot for the local people of northern Colorado (Fort Collins-Loveland-Greeley area), in fact it is one of the few trailheads I've been to in the state I didn't see any cars with out of state license plates. The destination was the American Lakes, a relatively popular spot in the northern Never Summers (there were about 10 other tents in the basin with me that night). The hike in is quick and mellow leading to a stunning alpine basin with two shallow lakes beneath towering peaks of varying geomorphology. The Never Summers are interesting in that respect as the geology is quite young compared to many other Colorado ranges, and consists of heavily volcanic rock types (basalt, rhyolite, ash flow tuff, and other intrusive igneous rock such as granite). This mash of various rock types makes for a magnificent backdrop to the lush alpine basin of the American Lakes.
To add to the beauty, mid-summer means wildflowers in the high country and the American Lakes basin is no exception. The wildflowers were abundant and kaleidoscopic nearly everywhere you looked. This is certainly my favorite time of year to be in the mountains!
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