Collegiate West Part 1 - Hope Pass, the Big Up-n-Over

July 6, 2020

Destination: Clear Creek Today's Miles: 11.40

Start Location: Twin Lakes Trip Miles: 189.10



It’s always good to get back on the trail after a little downtime. Leaving our comfy king bed at the Best Western in Buena Vista, Mike dropped us off at the trail head for Hope Pass a little before 7 am.


We were excited to do the west Collegiate route despite concerns over Lake Ann Pass. Word on the trail is you have to kick in about five steps to get up and over the snow cornice. People have been doing it but there has been considerable build up – we will see how it goes tomorrow.

For today we enjoyed climbing ever higher through dense, steep timber. It was a long pull uphill and we would summit the 5 mile trek in just over four hours while the sky was still mostly clear...a few clouds beginning to build behind us.


The views from the top of the 12,000 foot plus pass were unbelievable, we could see for miles, from Leadville and the area from which we came as well as noting the gigantic peaks coming in to view up Clear Creek as we crested the ridge. Now this is what we came to Colorado for!

We said goodbye to Twin Lakes, now almost 4000 feet below, and began our descent down the other side. It was steep, very steep. Several switch backs on the higher portion helped ease the descent but about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down it just got steeper, and long. It seem like forever before we leveled off and for a minute or two when we did, I had a hard time convincing my legs we were on flat ground...


For the next 5 or so miles we stayed at relatively the same elevation as we curved around the contours of the mountain range. There were a few uphill spots my legs didn’t care for but the views held my attention.


It was a pretty hike winding our way through the aspen and pines framed by towering peaks at every angle. We stopped often to take pictures and eventually made it across the Clear Creek drainage and began looking for a place to camp. Picking a spot just north of the trail towards Mt. Huron, it’s not completely flat but the timing was right and we’ve slept on way worse. With no storms threatening we fought off the mosquitoes and cooked up some ramen while watching the sun slowly disappear behind a tall peak. It’s been a fun day but we are tired. Nestled cozy in our bags we reminisced about the day. Aaron mentioned he read somewhere it was named Hope Pass because if you make it to the top you will hope you never have to climb it again - and I agree!


A special part about being on the trail is having an instant connection with other hikers - we are all hiking alone together so-to-speak. If you are following along on our journey we would love for you to sign our guestbook below so we can welcome you to our ‘tramily’!