8/7/2010 - Mount Ida, Chief Cheley Peak, 12820, Cracktop, Mount Julian & Terra Tomah Mountain
Distance: ~11 miles
Elevation Gain: ~7000’
Time: ~9 hours
I left Milner Pass at ~6:30 am and started hiking up the trail towards Mount Ida. The trail is very easy to follow and disappears near the final saddle to Ida. The remainder of the hike to the summit is very straightforward. I arrived at the summit at 8:48 am. I then continued to Chief Cheley Peak, which I reached at 9:28 am. Next, I continued to 12820, which I reached at 9:47 am. I then left the Continental Divide to climb Cracktop, which I reached at 10 am. The descent down from Cracktop to the Mount Julian-Cracktop saddle was the most technically-demanding section rated at third class. The hike up from the saddle to Mount Julian was simple and I reached the top at 11:13 am. I continued over to Terra Tomah Mountain and reached the top at 11:50 am. I should have probably descended to Doughnut Lake and back up to the ridge east of Ida, but even after realizing that I had forgot my compass, I convinced myself to drop into Forest Canyon, ascend to Trail Ridge Road and hitch a ride back to my car at Milner Pass. The descent into Forest Canyon was enjoyable at first. I found the third class northeast ridge and descended it, then north down loose talus into the forest. I continued northeast to Forest Lake which had a very marshy exterior. I traversed around the lake, then descended down a very deadfall-choked gully to the Big Thompson River and just forded it since I was already soaked from bushwhacking for so long during a rainstorm. I was glad to have finally made it to the bottom of Forest Canyon, but now I had to ascend ~2000’ back to Trail Ridge Road. I found an avy path that was easy to ascend and found myself walking into a large herd of elk that was being photographed by many tourists.
Mount Julian from Mount Ida
The only summit register of the day on Julian was too wet to sign even if there were a pen or pencil available.