Wild Basin to Grand Lake

      by Gordon S. Novak Jr.

In about 1963 my friend William and I hiked from Wild Basin to Grand Lake via Boulder-Grand Pass. This is an interesting and very scenic hike that is well worth doing. We began by hiking to Thunder Lake and camping overnight. In those days there were no camping permits; you just went in and camped. No water filters either; we drank straight from the streams and never got sick.
The next day we broke camp and headed for Boulder-Grand Pass, a fairly steep and slippery ascent of a slope covered with loose rock and gravel. The top of the pass is flat tundra, followed by a steep descent. In contrast to the relatively dry east slope, the west slope of the pass is wet, and we found the hillside covered with marsh marigolds. Marsh marigolds are very slippery when wet. We would be walking steeply downhill one moment and on our butts the next, almost without realizing the transition; this must have happened a hundred times.

At the bottom of the steep descent is Fourth Lake, the fourth in a chain of five lakes in this valley. There isn't a formal trail here, and it was wet. It was impossible to progress without getting wet and muddy on the way. At the third lake, Spirit Lake, a real trail begins, with trail the rest of the way.

We dragged into the outskirts of Grand Lake as it was getting dark. We knocked on the door of a cabin and asked to use the phone to call my parents to pick us up. We chose some very nice folks to ask, because they not only let us use the phone, but offered us a bed for the night. We were tired, wet, muddy puppies. The next day we got picked up and were very glad to ride over the divide in the reverse direction.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks