Click on the pictures!

A view of the Never Summer Mountains at sunrise, taken from the trail to Mt. Ida.

One of the many Bighorn Sheep that call this area home.

A nice view of Mt. Ida along the trail. The Alpine Avens is the most common flower above treeline.

The Never Summer Range and Alpine Avens.

Three Rams just below the summit of Mt. Ida.

On the summit of Mt. Ida.

Next on the list: Chief Cheley Peak.

Looking back up the much steeper Southeast slope of Mt. Ida from the saddle between it and Chief Cheley Peak.

The jagged summit of Chief Cheley with Mt. Ida on the left.

Me on the summit of Cheley.

Looking back at Chief Cheley Peak and Mount Ida.

The summit of Cracktop Mountain with Ida and Cheley in the background. The Never Summer Range is in the far distance.

Last summit for the day. I didn't bring a snack, and it was almost lunch time....
The HUGE crack in the face of Cracktop Mountain. This picture is looking almost straight down.

Mount Ida and Beyond.

June 28, 2003

I'm really not going to say too much about this hike. It was one of the most memorable I have been on. There was a lot of wildlife(coyotes, elk, sheep), a lot of flowers, very few people, and not a cloud in the sky the entire day.

I was only going to summit Mt. Ida (12,880 ft), but when I got there, the weather was just too perfect not to keep going. So I went down the other side of Ida and up Chief Cheley Peak (12,804 ft). This mountain is wonderful. Nice summit and wonderful views of the Gorge Lakes. The weather stayed perfect so I went on to Cracktop Mountain (12,760 ft). This is another great mountain with even better views of the Gorge Lakes. The most notable feature of this mountain is the giant crack down the middle (hence the name). It is much larger than I expected. I was going to go on to Mount Julian, but since I didn't pack a single thing to eat, I was starting to get a little fatigued.

I did want to check out the famous "knife ridge" between Cracktop and Julian, so I explored that area for a while. If you have heard that this is a very exposed ridge, you heard right. Some of this ridge made me feel a bit uneasy, but if I had had a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a granola bar or two with me, I would have taken a lunch break and continued on. This wasn't the case, so I headed back over the three previous mountains toward the trailhead. It was an uneventful walk back, and I only saw two people on the entire trail.

This is an area I would love to visit again before the summer is through. Next time I'll pack some food and plan for a longer day.

Until then.....