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Backpacker Magazine – May 2009

Rip & Go: Bowen-Baker Loop - Never Summer Wilderness, CO

Get national park scenery without the crowds on an alpine overnight with lakeside camping.

by: Adrienne Isaac

Fairview Mountain (Kim Phillips)
Fairview Mountain (Kim Phillips)

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Trip Planner

The Way From Estes Park, take US 36 seven miles west to RMNP's Beaver Meadows entrance. Veer left onto US 34/Trail Ridge Rd. and drive 30 miles to the Bowen-Baker trailhead.
Permit $20 for entry to Rocky Mountain National Park; (970) 586-1242,
Gear up Grab supplies or gear rentals (packs, bags, pads, and fishing gear) at Estes Park Mountain Shop, 2050 Big Thompson Ave., Estes Park, CO; (866) 303-6548.
Conditions Trail Ridge Rd. is closed from November to April. Check conditions at (970) 586-1206.

Key Skill
Clean and cook a trout

The Never Summer's cutthroats could convert a vegetarian. You'll have to catch one to find out (Locals Know, below). But plan for success by packing a sharp knife, and following these tips.

1) Remove the hook, then rinse the fish to remove its natural layer of slime. Don't worry about descaling or filleting–small trout (less than 12'') are best cooked whole.
2) Grasp the fish by the head and cut the flesh from the anus (vent) to the gills. (A)
3) Pull out the entrails from the head toward the tail. (B)
4) Cut out the bloodline along the backbone with your knife (or scrape out with a spoon).
5) Clean out the inside with water. (C)
6) Pan-fry with olive oil and seasonings or poach for 10-12 minutes, then remove the bones and skin.

Double-bag the entrails and bones to pack them out or bury them at least .5 mile from camp.

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star Star


Jan 12, 2012

Hiked up Baker Gulch with 3 friends in Aug of 2011. An awesome trip. We set up base camp in the gulch between Parika Lake and Baker Mtn. In 2 afternoons of fishing we caught 12 beautiful brook trout out of Parika...tasty! Another morning we dayhiked to Baker Pass, then climbed Nimbus, following the ridge to Stratus and Baker Mtn. What a ridge walk (could see RMNP visitor center and Longs Peak in the distance)
We saw moose, pika, and even a wolf (hard to believe).
Incredible trip!
The trip ended on a bad note, a critter had chewed through our SUV's transmission and fuel lines at the trailhead...But the backpacking was superb!

Aug 05, 2010

Hiked this July 30, 31, and Aug 1 2010. A perfect trip, and the weather was kind. Indeed, we saw knee-high wildflowers at their best. We saw no moose, only a few pika and marmots, but descending Bowen Gulch trail we met a wolverine.
If you get the chance, take this hike! It's outstanding!

Jul 20, 2009

Jul 20, 2009

Jul 20, 2009


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