Independence Pass: Not just a tourist destination

Your tired car pushes and struggles up the last few hundred feet of the narrow mountain road. You have finally reached the top, and Independence Pass is just as beautiful as they all say. But, have you ever arrived at the top of the pass and wished there was more? You walk around the holding ponds and to the end of the tourist-y walkway. You look out over the view and then hop back in your tired car and head down the other side. 12,096 feet and that’s it.

Disappointment be gone! Hope is not lost; have you ever noticed the humble trail heading up the side of the hill opposite the bathrooms? If you trek up this path, which will eventually end, you can follow delicate cairns to the top. These will bring you to a saddle, often coated in snow no matter the season. Many visitors hike up this small mountain and then hike right back down again. An hour later, you’re again in your car and put-put-ing down the other side of the pass.

If you want a short adventure to add on to your Indy Pass jaunt, yet one, which still satisfies all your inner longings for escape, for a quest, or exploration, you are in luck. Once you follow the cairns and reach the saddle, look north to the nearest peak.

Photographs by Caleigh Smith
Photographs by Caleigh Smith

Hiker, meet Twining Peak. Twining Peak, meet your newest summiteer. A short forty-five minute hike brings you to one of the most beautiful 360-degree views of Colorado you will ever see with such a short ascent. From the summit you can see Alpine lakes, and Mount Sopris in the distance. Twining is a 13,711 foot beauty, though don’t let the short ascent fool you! Altitude is still taxing no matter where you’re starting point may be. Bring lots of snacks, stay hydrated, and keep it slow and steady. Feeling short of breath, achy, nauseous, dizzy, lightheaded, tingly in your extremities, and uncoordinated are all signs of altitude sickness. Head down immediately if any of these occur and try again another day.

If not, keep on truckin’ to the summit; I advise a good picnic and equally good company to have a fine time atop this hidden and secretive peak.

Caleigh Smith

Caleigh Smith

Caleigh is a sophomore and began writing for the Catalyst during her first block at CC. She then became the Active Life editor a year later in the fall of 2015. She designed her major (Ecological Translation in Adventure Journalism) with a minor in both Spanish and Human Biology and Kinesiology. She is passionate about all things outdoors and is excited to see the Active Life section expand.

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