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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Lake Isabelle

August 10th, 2014 · No Comments

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This Friday morning was as nearly perfect as it gets in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. To make the 4.2 mile round-trip hike to Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness my hiking buddy Sharon and I chose the day based on the weather prediction, and it turned out to be spot on.

We made sure to get to the trailhead at 6 a.m., when the day was still cool at 42 degrees, although it warmed up later to the mid-60s. We had almost full sun all morning and, best of all, essentially no wind. We had never seen it so calm in these mountains.

​Lake Isabelle, Sharon, Isabelle Glacier, and Shoshoni Peak​

Lake Isabelle, Sharon, Isabelle Glacier, and Shoshoni Peak

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Our destination was Lake Isabelle, which sits at 10,868 feet right below Isabelle Glacier. In 1904 a Boulder engineer, Fred Fair, discovered Isabelle Glacier, which University of Colorado Professor Junius Henderson named for Fair’s first wife, Frances Isabel Fair.

​We reached the lake by 8:45 ​when ​I stopped to take ​the above photo ​. Isabelle Glacier ​is ​in the center and ​12,967 foot ​Shoshoni Peak​ is just to its right. The peak ​is on the Continental Divide ​1.3 miles due west ​of my vantage point.

That’s Sharon sitting at the left​ ​of this photo on a rock at where the lake empties into South St. Vrain Creek. She shows the ​immense ​scale of the scene.

​At the lake we stopped to rest and to photograph the scene, the birds and the bees, and the flowers. An immature White-crowned Sparrow stopped at the edge of the lake to check us out.

​A Timberline Sparrow at Lake Isabelle

An Immature White-crowned Sparrow at Lake Isabelle.

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​A Bee Feasts on a Western Paintbrush

A Bee Feasts on a Western Paintbrush

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​A Little Red Elephant Grows at the Edge of the Lake

A Little Red Elephant Grows at the Edge of the Lake

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​A Rosy Paintbrush Also Grows at the Edge

A Rosy Paintbrush Also Grows at the Edge

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​​The trail to Lake Isabelle passes the biggest lake in the wilderness, Long Lake. Whenever I go there, I make a practice of capturing the view of the lake as it spills into South St. Vrain Creek.

​​The Mouth of Long Lake

The Mouth of Long Lake

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Between Long and Isabelle lakes we came across many more flowers and one more bird species. I guess that birds don’t appreciate the alpine beauty of the Rocky Mountains as much as people do, because only 35 to 49 species inhabit Colorado’s mountains in August. They have more to eat on the plains to the east than in the mountains.

A Cordilleran Flycatcher Visits Our Mountains in Summer

A Cordilleran Flycatcher Visits Our Mountains in Summer

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I will never get tired of a common flower of our mountains, the Scarlett (or Indian) Paintbrush. But I was absolutely delighted to find this one in its dramatic setting.

​The Scarlet Paintbrush Deserves Its Name

The Scarlet Paintbrush Deserves Its Name

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The Lake Isabelle trail actually starts just after a third lake. The willows along Brainard Lake at 10,300 feet have begun to attract moose. A park ranger told Sharon and me that the Indian Peaks Wilderness area now has between 75 and 90 moose. We saw eight moose near the lake three weeks ago, and on this visit we saw five there plus a family of three (bull, cow, and calf) about a mile before we reached Lake Isabelle.

​A Bull Moose Feeds at the Edge of Brainard Lake

A Bull Moose Feeds at the Edge of Brainard Lake

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You could say that we saw a little of everything that a nature photographer would look for on this hike.

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