Mt. Ida

      by Gordon S. Novak Jr.       June 28, 1997

Mt. Ida is one of the mountains seen across from Forest Canyon Overlook on Trail Ridge Road, to the right of the large Terra Tomah Mountain. It provides good views of Terra Tomah and Julian. I leave from the Milner Pass trailhead at 11:11. Since this is a shaded slope, there is lots of snow here; the ridge is steep as well as snowy. Maybe there is a trail; there is an old road here, with some trees growing in the middle of it now. It's hard to know what to follow, so I just bushwhack up the steep, snowy slope.
I reach the top of the ridge at 13:05 and soon stop for a rest. I see a coyote some 400 yards across the tundra. She sees me too, and she comes trotting over. She stops about 15 feet from me and turns, making a very submissive posture. Probably she wants me to give her something to eat; I say "Hello, puppy dog" and take a photo but follow Park rules and don't give her any food. Seeing that there is no food to be had, she trots back from whence she came. I'm amazed at the speed and seeming ease with which she goes that far out of her way for the chance of a snack.
The terrain on top of the ridge is much like that along Trail Ridge Road. There are herds of elk, though they scatter well before I get close. I reach the Ida summit at 15:40 (no register), relax, and enjoy the views of Terra Tomah Mountain and Mt. Julian, Chief Cheley Peak, and the higher Gorge Lakes. I leave at 16:47. On the way back, I pass what are apparently gopher tubes in the soil -- maybe what the coyote eats. I reach the top of the ridge above Milner Pass at 18:40. The slope is uncomfortably steep going down; I am slipping and causing erosion. Probably it is better to start hiking below the visitor center on Trail Ridge to avoid this slope. I get back at 20:00.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The High Peaks