Colorado has thousands more beautiful lakes for me to see and photograph. My adopted state has dozens of passes over the Continental Divide that I haven’t hiked yet. About 550 of its mountain peaks are higher than 4000 meters or 13,123 fee – and I have yet to climb one of them!
But I have moved on to waterfalls. At least temporarily and for today.
A week or so I pulled out a book on Waterfalls of Colorado and noticed that of more that 250 in the state two are in the Boulder area. I hadn’t seen either of them in the three years that I’ve been here, so it was about time.
Today I hiked to Eldorado Falls. The book describes it as a cascade type. Other types include segmented, horsetail, serial, plunge, punchbowl, tiered, and fan. I am going to have to see a lot more waterfalls to understand what those terms mean!
I got a late start this morning because I had made an appointment for 10 a.m. to talk on the phone with a young woman in Brussels, Belgium, who is setting up a diabetes website and wanted my advice on how to do it. I also referred her to another friend of mike in Brussels who has a diabetes blog. This is one tight diabetes community worldwide!
Getting a late start limited the places where I could go, because trailhead parking would be scarce, particularly since this is the Labor Day weekend. Driving by on Wednesday, I had noted how large the Crescent Meadow trailhead in the upper reaches of Eldorado State Park is, so that is one of the reasons why I picked it today.
I also wanted an easy hike because I was still tired from overdoing it a week ago when I climbed to Rogers Pass. But this hike was a lot harder than I had expected. First, it was a lot hotter than the weather prediction. Had I known how hot the day would be I would have gone a lot higher in the mountains (the trailhead is at 7500 feet and the falls at 6500 feet). There was little shade on the trail and it was longer (5 miles round trip in 4 hours) and steeper (1,000 foot elevation loss and gain) that I had thought it would be.
The trail went down from the Crescent Meadow trailhead just beyond Gross Reservoir, about 20 miles northwest of my place, the last four miles on a dirt road. This is a separate, upper part of Eldorado State Park, the lower part of which is only about four miles south of my place. The trail is one of four sections of the eight-mile Walker Ranch Loop, and the only section I hadn’t hiked in previous years.
Last year or the year before that in fact I hiked a different section of the Walker Ranch loop almost down to Eldorado Falls. But it was far too difficult for me at that time and I turned back just before the falls.
Today I almost did the same. I took careful note of this sign:
But the inspirational words of Adlai Stevenson rang through my head. “I am not a wimp,” I kept saying to myself. The trail got awfully steep for the last half mile down to the falls. But it was worth it.
At the falls I found the perfect place to stop for lunch. It was right at the water, just 2 feet from my feet, in the shade, with a flat rock of just the right height to sit on, and with no one else in sight or sound.
Actually, going down to the falls was a lot harder than coming back up the trail. I eventually got into the groove or the zone or whatever the current expression is. I’m glad I stuck with it.
There’s still one more waterfall for me to see in the Boulder area. But if waterfalls are my current passion, can hot springs be far behind?