Albany County Highpoint Trip Report

Medicine Bow Peak (12,013 ft)

Date: July 1, 2004
Author: Layne Bracy

West Lake Marie Trailhead (10,500 ft)

It took me under 3 hours to reach this trailhead from the Denver area. Directions: I-25N to Cheyenne, I-80W to Laramie, highway 130 west through village of Centennial to the trailhead.

Started hiking at 10:23 am. A sign warned of afternoon lightning danger, recommending not hiking after 3 pm. The trail is mostly class 1, with still a few snow patches. After 20 minutes, I gained a great view of the southern valley with its mountain lakes. The terrain here seems more inhospitable than in the Colorado mountains. Wide plateaus have mixed fields of grass and trees that seem to be holding dearly onto life. Water seems abundant but surrounded by rockier terrain than I would expect.

After the first 500 feet of gain, the hike is along a wide gentle slope. At the summit, I met a family with kids 11, 9, and 6 who had hiked up from Dipper Lake (north). Shortly thereafter 4 10-year olds trudged up from the east in jeans and sneakers, preceding their leader who looked about 18. Thus children outnumbered adults 7 to 4 on the summit. Skies were partly cloudy and temps cool but no real threat of precipitation.

After the summit break, I headed down to find the spot where the Carbon County line just touches the 11,920-foot contour near steep slopes/cliffs. This is just southwest of a bump southwest of the summit which breaks the 11,960-foot contour. I had calibrated my altimeter at the summit to get in the vicinity and found two sturdy cairns in the right area. I tramped around a bit to satisfy myself, although it occurred to me that the highpoint of the county may not even be the highest point on its own individual rock.

Time to summit: 1 hour 25 minutes
Round trip: Approximately 7.2 miles and 3 1/2 hours