Little did we know that Saturday would end up really being our last full day at Base Camp. After our morning ritual beginning with our breakfast burrito and espresso paired with glazed donut holes we walked Aspen and made our way to Never Summer Mountain Products. As we head into winter Stella needs a new pair of boots for snowshoeing, technically I do as well. However her foot is a bit more difficult to fit and we thought we would get a head start before winter sets in. She tried on a pair of Oboz and Merrell boots in the spring and almost purchased the Merrell’s before the leather eyelet failed when she was lacing the boot. Maybe this was a good thing, because it allowed me to hike the entire summer in my Oboz Bridger Mid Waterproof boots and I formed a very strong opinion on their quality. With that said, May Lou helped Stella as Dan was off on vacation, she recommended the Oboz Bridger 9″ Insulated Waterproof boot. Stella typically wears a size 6 and they only had a 6 1/2 for her try on, however she immediately took to the boot. We asked Mary Lou to order a size 6 as we will be back next weekend closing up Base Camp for the winter. Though we had anticipated hiking to Timber Lake inside Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday we began running short on time as it is a 4 to 5 hour hike and it is now after 1PM. So I suggested that we just head down to Monarch Lake and hike the loop with Aspen. As we make our way down to Monarch Lake Stella says let try the Doe Creek Trail, we pull off the road into the trailhead parking area and I grab the map to investigate distances. The Doe Creek Trail provides several options from short to overnight as the trail system navigates the Arapaho National Forest and into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. We opt for an out and back as Aspen will be joining us on our new adventure. From the trailhead you make a short climb to a meadow leading to an intersection that allows you to loop the trail or venture off to various side trails. We opted to hike up the N9.7 trail that takes you up a large hog back plateauing around 9042 feet. After leaving the sagebrush covered meadow you begin climbing through an Aspen grove, a few weeks back the views would have been amazing but we are past the peak of the fall colors however the golden leaves lined the trail like a carpet. Continuing our climb we traverse a series of switchbacks allowing for various views of Lake Granby below and the snow covered peaks of the mountains beyond the lake. We ran into a few obstacles along our journey with a fallen tree here or there blocking the trail which Aspen successfully navigated under or over as necessary. After reaching the summit we traveled down a steep incline to the trail intersection that continued on to the Strawberry Bench Trail or you could have looped back along N9.3 trail. We reversed course climbing back up the steep incline and wondered our way back to the trailhead. We covered over 4 miles out and back with an elevation gain of 574 feet. Stella and I agree this would be a moderate hike due to some of the inclines along the trek.
Now on to the aforementioned last full day at Base Camp, upon returning from our trek we snacked on chips and french onion dip before dinner. After relaxing for a while we sat down to enjoy a Stella’s chicken pot pie, which I had been anticipating all day to devour, yes it is that good. Saturday, in general, was a beautiful day, maybe 60 degrees however it was supposed to dip below 30 degrees overnight. Now, short of the air conditioning not working properly, everything thing else has performed well, up until we decided to head to bed. Our furnace suddenly failed, the blower would come on but for some reason no heat. With that said it was working flawlessly an hour before and earlier in the morning. Short of pulling the unit out from underneath the refrigerator I tried in vain to get the furnace to work properly. We could have packed up and headed home but we chose tough it out overnight. Plus we had Aspen between us and Stella had her heating pad, thankfully, I grabbed an extra blanket and ended up donning my beanie later in the night to stay warm. When we awoke the next morning it was a balmy 27 degrees and you could see our breath clear as day. We each had a cup of hot chocolate to start our day, I ran a burner on the stove to provide some heat and we waited for the sun to break the mountains to begin warming Base Camp.