My first guess was that they ran out of names when they called it Mud Lake. It doesn’t have more mud than other lakes. If fact, I found out today that it used to be called Muskee Lake. I have no idea when they changed it from a perfectly good name, but the reality is much more beautiful than its current moniker.
I returned to Mud Lake for the first time in a couple of years today. Thinking about my previous trip there always saddened me, because it was one of the last places I ever went with Catherine. We went there with our big Akita, Ember, when Catherine couldn’t walk more than the few steps from the parking lot to the lake.
But I’m glad that I went back today. As I lay down last night I pondered where I wanted to go today. While I knew that I wanted to get out to the mountains, I didn’t want to go too far because I have an article due by the end of the day. I wanted to hike where it was between 8,000 and 9,000 feet, because that’s where the late spring (very late spring!) wildflowers are at their peak right now. And I had in mind a marshy area in hopes of finding the awfully rare spotted coralroot orchid.
While I still haven’t seen anything but pictures of the coralroot, otherwise today’s trip exceeded my expectations. Boulder County’s Mud Lake Open Space is just beyond Nederland and only 22 miles from my apartment. It lays at about 8,400 feet, and the trails are easy with few rocks — so I could look around for flowers without stopping. I wanted something easy after my overly strenuous backpacking trip from which I returned the day before yesterday.
I especially liked being able take three loop trails totaling about three miles, including one that makes a tight circuit of the lake. The high point of today’s hike was stopping. I stopped at a bench on the Kinnickinnick Loop Trail that offered a good view of the Indian Peaks. There I stopped for lunch (water and nuts) and read in The Essence of Wisdom, the perfect trail book.
John gave me that book last week. He also inspired me to get yet another pack. I already had my backpack, two day packs, and a fanny pack. But to favor my sore left shoulder I avoided my day packs today. And the fanny pack I already had was too small to hold even the bare hiking essentials, particularly a parka (in case of rain) to say nothing of a book. So I was glad to use the larger fanny pack that I just got at REI.
Visiting John even gave me a third source of enjoyment today. He thought I would like the music of John Stewart. Yesterday I downloaded his last album, “The Day the River Sang” from iTunes and today I played it on my iPod on the way to and from Mud Lake.