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

Emerald Lake Trail‏

July 6th, 2008 · No Comments

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Today I just had to get back to the mountain lakes. So did everybody else.

At least I got there early, even though I overslept. I didn’t wake up until 5:30, but quickly got to Rocky Mountain National Park before 7. About 50 other cars were at the Bear Lake parking lot when I arrived.

The four lakes here are some of the most beautiful in the world, and everyone seems to know it. I come here often, most recently just three months ago for the most difficult snowshoe hike I ever made. Today’s hike was a lot easier and much more sociable.

Two people seemed surprised that I was taking pictures of wildflowers. They had come only for the bigger views, which are indeed extraordinary. Like 12,713-foot Hallett Peak rising directly from 10,080-foot Emerald Lake:

Hallett Peak Above Dream Lake

Hallett Peak Above Dream Lake

But the flowers are tremendous too:

Nymph Lake Takes Its Name from these Water Lilies

Nymph Lake Takes Its Name from these Water Lilies

This little flower grows right out of the rock beside the trail:

Aspen Daisy

Aspen Daisy

I never saw this type of flower before:

Globeflower

Globeflower

None of my five books of Rocky Mountain flowers tell me the name of these beauties:

Found in a Bog near Emerald Lake

Found in a Bog near Emerald Lake

The only species of trout native to Colorado is the greenback cutthroat. By 1937, however, it was considered extinct. Then, in 1973 scientists discovered two small populations of native greenbacks near here. They removed all the brook trout from Bear Lake and reintroduced the greenbacks, which remain on the endangered species list. Early each summer the trout travel up this stream from Bear Lake to spawn. Males like this one have brilliant red bellies:

Native Greenback Cutthroat Trout

Native Greenback Cutthroat Trout

When I returned to the trailhead about noon, the parking lot was full and a line of cars was waiting for my parking place. A ranger told me that the lot held 275 vehicles. And on the way down the road I passed hundreds more on the way there.

“This is not exactly a wilderness experience,” the ranger told me. True, but a wonderful experience nonetheless.

Now, I need to write an article that’s due today. But first things first. And what was it that came first? Nature, exercise, fun, photography, sharing my experiences with you? Of course, it’s all of the above. Work is secondary in my life.

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Posted in: Hiking, Photography

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