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

Lake Isabelle

July 2nd, 2012 · No Comments

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Sharon and I escaped from the Boulder’s 100° furnace on Sunday to the relative coolness of the Lake Isabelle Trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It was cooler because it is higher. The trailhead starts at 10,500 feet and after 2.2 miles it reaches the lake at 10,868 feet.

We got to the trailhead at 6:30 a.m. because we wanted to get one of the 30 parking places for this popular trail on a sunny weekend morning. On the way up we had the trail mostly to ourselves. But on our return hike we weren’t surprised that we saw many people, ranging in age from 6 weeks to 80 years. I commented to Sharon that most of the people we passed were smiling. I don’t know why they were.

Out in nature away from the city people always smile more and return greetings more often. Being in the wilderness makes people happy.

But maybe people smiled back at me because I practice smiling more than I used to. Ron Gutman’s TED talk, “The Hidden Power of Smiling,” got me to be a serious smiler. I am so serious about smiling that I promote it in one of the articles that I write for HealthCentral, “Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act.”

Whatever the reason, everybody seemed happy, Sharon and me included. Before 7 a.m. I got my first photograph. It was of a little bird quite close to me.

A White-crowned Sparrow Perches in a Tree

A White-crowned Sparrow Perches in a Tree

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The only people we met on our first hour on the trail told us that they had just seen a moose between the trailhead and Long Lake. So Sharon and I set off in that direction, since moose are one of the animals we most wanted to see. We didn’t find any moose then, but the quest took us around the south side of Long Lake on the Jean Lunning Trail. Crossed by many streams feeding the lake, this is a much more scenic trail than the usual one on the north side.

The big surprise was the millions of wildflowers. Colorado has been so dry this year that we don’t have many on the plains or in the foothills.

A Yellow Butterfly Finds a Yellow Flower

A Yellow Butterfly Finds a Yellow Flower

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Three Red Indian Paintbrushes Stand in a Row

Three Red Indian Paintbrushes Stand in a Row

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As we approached Lake Isabel we found more and more water. I enjoyed this water falling under a short wood bridge that the trail crossed.

Water Falls Near the Trail

Water Falls Near the Trail

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At Lake Isabelle we took a side trail that took us to the lake’s outlet. Even though rain and snow levels were low this year, much water flowed out.

Lake Isabelle Sits Just Below the Indian Peaks That Form the Continental Divide

Lake Isabelle Sits Just Below the Indian Peaks That Form the Continental Divide

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Columbines, Colorado's State Flower, Grow Next to Lake Isabelle

Columbines, Colorado's State Flower, Grow Next to Lake Isabelle

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We stopped for half an hour or so at the lake to look around, enjoy the scene, take pictures, finish a thermos of coffee, and eat a snack.

Sharon Sits Overlooking a Corner of Lake Isabelle

Sharon Sits Overlooking a Corner of Lake Isabelle

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On the return hike down the trail I spotted an interesting pattern on a large rock.

Lichens Come in Many Colors

Lichens Come in Many Colors

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We returned to the trailhead by noon without seeing a moose. But passing Brainard Lake en route to the area’s entrance station, we saw this one a few feet from the road.

The First Moose I Have Ever Photographed in the Indian Peaks Area

The First Moose I Have Ever Photographed in the Indian Peaks Area

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With our appetite for moose sightings whetted by this encounter, we visited one more lake in the area before returning home. Red Rock Lake didn’t show us any moose. But most of it was covered by beautiful water lilies.

A Water Lily Grows on Red Rock Lake

A Water Lily Grows on Red Rock Lake

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Boulder was still hot when we returned in the early afternoon. But back from our experience of nature in the high country, we returned happy.

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