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

Blue Lake

July 11th, 2012 · 1 Comment

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The trail to Blue Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness of the Rocky Mountains is not easy. But the views yesterday were spectacular.

In the high country almost an hour from my Boulder apartment, the trail climbs about 900 feet in three miles until it reaches the 11,355 foot lake. The trail itself is mostly rocky, and where it isn’t rocky, recent rains made it wet and in some places muddy. Even though I got up at 4:30, I didn’t reach the trailhead until 6:30, about 45 minutes after sunrise. I wanted to arrive early to get the best light for photographs, the best weather (since the mountains usually cloud up on a summer afternoon), the most bird activity, and a parking spot at the trailhead. While the weather was sunny, cool, and calm on the hike up to Blue Lake, clouds rolled in just as I reached it at 11 and continued the rest of the day.

The day was long, because I hiked with record slowness, taking eight hours to complete the hike. Not only was the trail slow going but so too was my body. My energy was low from recent dieting extremes as I have been working ever more diligently to bring my weight down to my goal. I am almost there, but I had to take extra care as I hiked to make sure that I stayed vertical. I also stopped often to rest and to take photographs of the scene. Photography is, after all, what gets me out in nature and to get the exercise I need in places of beauty.

The most beautiful scene early in the hike was Mitchell Lake, about a mile from the trailhead and a few feet away from the main trail to Blue Lake. Mitchell Lake lies at 10,735 feet right at the base of Mount Audubon, which towers above the lake at 13,223 feet.

Mitchell Lake Lies Below Mount Audubon

Mitchell Lake Lies Below Mount Audubon

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In the bogs near Mitchell Lake grow many wildflowers. I particularly appreciated these Little Pink Elephants.

Raindrops Cover Little Pink Elephants

Raindrops Cover Little Pink Elephants

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Near Mitchell Lake I came across the first bird that I was able to capture on this hike with my camera’s bits. I really like the red on its head and the corner of its lips, because red is my favorite color. After serious checking of my bird guides in vain, I wrote Ted Floyd to ask for his identification. Ted lives near here and I have met him on the trail and otherwise, and he is the editor of Birding magazine, the flagship publication of the American Birding Association. He identified this bird for me.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet Sits in a Tree

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet Sits in a Tree

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About halfway between Mitchell and Blue lakes I stopped to photograph a chipmunk.

A Colorado Chipmunk Checks Me Out

A Colorado Chipmunk Checks Me Out

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While I was attracted to the chipmunk as much as it was to me, it was at a particularly wet area heavy with mosquitos. They were also attracted to me, but I had taken the precaution of liberally applying insect repellant and didn’t get one mosquito bite during the whole hike.

The mosquitos were a good thing, which is something that I thought I would never write. The mosquitos attracted birds that enjoyed them for breakfast.

A White-crowned Sparrow Perches on Top of a Tree

A White-crowned Sparrow Perches on Top of a Tree

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While White-crowned Sparrows sometimes enjoy eating insects, other birds feast on them. Yesterday was feast day for a group of another species of birds that I discovered when I looked in a different direction.

This Female Wilson's Warbler Has Her Mouth Full

This Female Wilson's Warbler Has Her Mouth Full

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This Male Wilson's Warbler is Ready to Fly Off with His Catch

This Male Wilson's Warbler is Ready to Fly Off with His Catch

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As I approached Blue Lake I spotted yet another bird. This is clearly a jay and is probably a Western Scrub-Jay.

Probably a Dark Morph of a Western Scrub-Jay

Probably a Dark Morph of a Western Scrub-Jay

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Even closer to Blue Lake I came across a small stand of wildflowers. Not just any wildflowers, these are the state flower of Colorado.

Columbines Attract People -- and Flies

Columbines Attract People -- and Flies

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Finally, I reached Blue Lake. Nestled in a cirque below triangular Mount Toll, the lake sits at tree line.

Blue Lake, High in the Rocky Mountains, and Mount Toll, Just as Clouds Rolled In

Blue Lake, High in the Rocky Mountains, and Mount Toll, Just as Clouds Rolled In

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This was the last that I saw of the sun before I left the mountains. But I already had more than enough colorful photos to make my day.

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Posted in: Photography

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 winnie // Jul 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    your pictures were beautiful as usual.

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