After going to bed at 7pm because of the pouring rain on Day 3, we awoke the next morning with clear skies overhead. In terms of elevation, the last leg of the North Inlet/Tonahutu Trail was almost entirely downhill. In fact, this final 9.2 miles would take us down 3000 feet through Big Meadow and back to the North Inlet/Tonahutu TH.
Day 4 (Wednesday, July 25)
Renegade Campsite (10,500 feet) to Tonahutu/North Inlet TH via Big Meadows (8540 feet)- 9.2 miles
This was one of the toughest mornings. Of course it was really wet when we got out of our tents, but then packing up our wet stuff is another thing. The sun would not be offering any help because it was still hiding behind the mountainside. This is more of a reality for this area than what we experienced throughout the entire trip. We were really fortunate that we did not get rained on more. I would advise anyone backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park to always have a raincoat accessible at the top of your pack.
The coolest thing about the North Inlet/Tonahutu Loop Trail is that you get a ton of variation and diversity in terrain. While my favorite portion was the alpine hike through the cairns along the Continental Divide on Day 3, there is no question that there was something refreshing and reinvigorating about falling below the tree-line and then walking out into a vast green meadow. Big Meadow makes you take off your pack and stand still… so the calming breeze can envelop you.
The homestretch of our nine-mile trek took us back through the pines. There were not many exciting moments on this day, it was just a peaceful hike back to the TH. As we approached the parking lot to wrap up North Inlet/Tonahutu Loop Trail, our minds were already thinking about the next day when we would be tackling Long’s Peak, the highest peak in Rocky Mountain National Park at 14,258 feet. Day five would have us hiking over 3300 for five miles to camp at the Boulderfield, which will be by far the coolest camping spot to which I have ever been.
Longs Peak Trailhead (9400 feet) to Boulderfield Campground (12,750 feet)
Total Mileage Day 5- 5.0
Elevation- 3370 feet