The trail to Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness of the Rocky Mountains is not easy. But the views yesterday were spectacular.
In the high country almost an hour from my Boulder apartment, the trail climbs about 900 feet in three miles until it reaches the 11,355 foot lake. The trail itself is mostly rocky, and where it isn’t rocky, recent rains made it wet and in some places muddy. Even though I got up at 4:30, I didn’t reach the trailhead until 6:30, about 45 minutes after sunrise. I wanted to arrive early to get the best light for photographs, the best weather (since the mountains usually cloud up on a summer afternoon), the most bird activity, and a parking spot at the trailhead. While the weather was sunny, cool, and calm on the hike up to Blue Lake, clouds rolled in just as I reached it at 11 and continued the rest of the day.
The day was long, because I hiked with record slowness, taking eight hours to complete the hike. Not only was the trail slow going but so too was my body. My energy was low from recent dieting extremes as I have been working ever more diligently to bring my weight down to my goal. I am almost there, but I had to take extra care as I hiked to make sure that I stayed vertical. I also stopped often to rest and to take photographs of the scene. Photography is, after all, what gets me out in nature and to get the exercise I need in places of beauty.
The most beautiful scene early in the hike was Mitchell Lake, about a mile from the trailhead and a few feet away from the main trail to Blue Lake. Mitchell Lake lies at 10,735 feet right at the base of Mount Audubon, which towers above the lake at 13,223 feet.