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

Emerald Lake

September 7th, 2010 · No Comments

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Because of the high winds on Labor Day, my friend Diana and I had to change our hiking plans. But for some of our neighbors, the weather was much worse.

We left Boulder about 6 a.m. to hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. The night before we had abandoned our plans to hike the Old Ute Trail. That trail is above treeline on a western-facing slope, and the weather prediction called for west winds exceeding 50 mph. Instead we planned a hike from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead. But a few seconds before we arrived there at about 7:30 another vehicle got the last parking place. So we drove on to the Bear Lake Trailhead, where several parking places remained in the 275-space parking lot, and hiked up to Emerald Lake, another of my favorite trails.

Our hike from 9,475 feet at the trailhead, past Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake, to 10,080 feet at Emerald Lake was entirely below treeline, so we had some shelter from the storm. Being on the east side of the Rockies also helped.

But winds of up to 45 mph fanned a raging wildfire in the canyons just west of Boulder, forcing the evacuation of 1,000 homes where about 3,500 people live. The fire consumed more than 6,100 acres and burned down 169 homes, making it the most destructive and expensive wildfire in Colorado’s history. The fire started about 10 a.m., and  for more than half an hour  before we returned in the early afternoon we could see the smoke billowing high. Dee and Steve, the parents of Noah, who Diana’s younger daughter Naomi, will marry in a couple of weeks, were among those evacuated. They already know that their home burned to the ground with most of their possessions and are staying with Diana for now.

While some of our neighbors had to deal with tragedy, Diana and I had a good time on the trail. We bundled up with jackets and gloves that kept us warm in the wind.

Diana at Emerald Lake and Hallett Peak

Diana at Emerald Lake and Hallett Peak

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Crags and Creek

Crags and Creek

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The only wildlife we saw was small but beautiful.

A Chipmunk at Dream Lake

A Chipmunk at Dream Lake

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A Clark's Nutcracker at Emerald Lake

A Clark's Nutcracker at Emerald Lake

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A great day for Diana and me. A sad day for some.

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