Day Hike – Milner Pass to Bear Lake Continental Divide Traverse

Clare Summit Mt. Julian (12,928 ft) Guns & Pizza on the Continental Divide
When Dennis & I were forced to retreat off the summit ramp of Mt. Ida a couple summers ago, I vowed to return and claim victory. Boy, did I ever!
Dominique Scouting From Summit of Mt. Ida (12,880 ft)
Lucky for me, intrepid CMC trip leader, Dominique, came up with a marvelous scheme: Hike from Milner Pass to Bear Lake bagging peaks along the way. What a brilliant concept, with even greater execution!
Topo Map of Milner Pass to Bear Lake Continental Divide Traverse
Total Distance: 17.4 miles
Total Time: 15 Hours
Gain: 6,077 ft
Loss: 7,355 ft
Peaks Bagged: 6
Elevation Profile Milner Pass to Bear Lake Continental Divide Traverse
Start at Milner Pass (10,758 ft): 6:15am
Mt. Ida (12,880 ft): 9:10am
Chief Cheyley (12,804 ft): 10am
Cracktop (12,760 ft): 10:50am
Mt. Julian (12,928 ft): 12:35pm
Sprague Mountain (12,713 ft): 4:15pm
Flattop (12,324 ft): 6:50pm
Finish at Bear Lake (9,475 ft): 9:10pm

Early Morning on Continental Divide 7:50am. Mt. Ida on the top left of picture.
Mt. Ida (12,880 ft) Peeking Out from Divide

Looking Northwest from the same spot as the previous picture. Neversummer range.
Continental Divide Trail North of Mt. Ida, Looking Northwest

We took our second break at 8:30am; snack time!
CMC Hikers Enjoying a Break on Continental Divide

Dave leading the way up north slope of Mt. Ida (9am).
Dave Leads the Way on Continental Divide Traverse

Mt. Ida summit pictures at 9:10am. Including a shot of Azure Lake with Mt. Julian looming.
Dave on Summit of Mt. Ida (12,880 ft)
Clare on Summit of Mt Ida (12,880 ft)
Azure Lake with Mt. Julian in Background

Descending Mt. Ida
CMC Hikers Descend Mt. Ida
CMC Hikers Descend South Slope of Mt. Ida (12,880)

Climbergirl happy on Chief Cheyley Summit (10am).
Clare Summit Chief Cheyley (12,804 ft)
Renata shared some cookies on the summit of some of these peaks, so I was *EVEN* happier. In fact, I never thought I could be quite that happy on a summit. It’s amazing what some crumbly, sugary morsels can do! I was wondering what the secret ingredient was…?

Mt. Julian and Cracktop with Highest Lake nestled in scree.
Mt. Julian & Cracktop from Chief Cheyley

John on top of unnamed peak between Chief Cheyley and Cracktop (10:30am).
John & Renata Summit Unnamed Peak
We made up a limerick about the unnamed peak, but I can’t remember what it was, except that it was totally cheesy.

Chief Cheyley and Mt. Ida from Cracktop (10:50am).
Chief Cheyley & Mt. Ida from Cracktop

Descending Cracktop Southeast ridge – Dan’s Bravado-Look Ma, No Hands! Not yet, at least…
Look Ma, No Hands!  Descending SE ridge of Cracktop (12,760 ft)

John & Renata Descending 3rd/4th class terrain off of Cracktop (11:15am).
John & Renata Descending Cracktop SE Ridge

Dave Signing Mt. Julian Summit Register (12:30pm)
Dave Signing Mt. Julian (12,928 ft) Summit Register

Instead of retracing our route, we drop into a bowl on the south of Mt. Julian. We then scramble up scree to merge back with the Continental Divide. Picture taken just before the steep ascent, at 2:05pm.
Climbing Back to the Divide

John & Renata work their way up the steep scree & talus. They made it look easy, they had done an arduous hike the day before. One could not have guessed it from their performance on Sunday; they are such strong hikers!
John & Renata Ascending to Continental Divide

Group Approaching Sprague Peak vacinity (3:15pm)
CMC Hikers on Continental Divide

John Approaching Summit of Sprague and Climbergirl on the Summit (4:15pm)
John & Renata Ascending Sprague Mtn (12,713 ft)Clare on Summit of Sprague Mtn (12,713 ft)

Water stop at the Eureka ditch (5:40pm)
CMC Hikers Fill Water from Eureka Ditch

Back on the Divide Trail, 30 minutes from Flattop (6:30pm)
CMC Hikers on Continental Divide

Clare with Hallet’s and then Longs Peak further off. I love the color of this picture.
Clare Nearing Flattop (12,324 ft)

Flattop Vacinity (HUGE CAIRNS!) at 6:50pm
Flattop (12,324 ft) Area

The rest of the hike was in darkness. We all picked up the pace and headed downhill for Bear Lake. We did a bit of singing and played the food game, which helped to pass the time. This trip was totally fun. I had a great time hanging out with everybody and the conversation was quite enjoyable.

Dominique was a fantastic trip leader and a truly motivating person. The miles melted away, the views were amazing, and there were no shortage of peaks to bag.

Thanks to Dominique and Dan for organizing!!!

A big thanks to Dave for letting me carpool & share his camp space-totally generous!

Last but not least, thanks to John & Renata for driving me back to my car in Golden and letting me snooze a little on the drive. I was really tired, I can’t even imagine how tired they must have been with two huge adventures back to back!

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