Monday, May 28, 2007

Its still winter at 10,000 feet

Since I had used up all day Saturday on the Redstone ride, I told Jill the rest of the weekend was for her. She decided she wanted to get up and do a high country hike Sunday morning, so I dug out the map and started looking for something new and exciting. This time of year is a mixed bag around here: warm, sunny and dry on the Front Range and cool, snowy and wet in the high country.

Knowing we'd probably be encountering snow anywhere above 9500 feet, we decided to go hit up the Indian Peaks Wilderness area. Normally you can drive up to Brainard Lake (10,300 feet), but with huge snow drifts in the road still, the winter gate was still locked. That meant we had a 2+ mile hike from the car just to get to Brainard, which was a long way from our intended destination of Lake Isabelle.

We made it to Brainard in pretty good time, and but we could tell by the snow drifts that we wouldn't be making Lake Isabelle today. We walked around Brainard Lake as fishermen in waders tried to lure the trout out of their winter slumbers, and marched on. We encountered a couple people on the trail that told us Long Lake was doable, but after that it was tough going. Pretty much what we expected, plus we didn't plan on having the added 4 miles of pavement from Brainard to the car.

The approach to Long Lake was completely snowed in. We were just walking on top of the packed snow drift following the previous hiker's trail like a couple of lemmings. Eventually we popped out to a spot where we found a clear beach, and we sat and ate lunch.

The lake was about 90% frozen still, but the melt-off is coming quick. The creeks are rushing, the wild flowers are starting to pop up and more and more terrain becomes obtainable each day. While we were disappointed to not reach our ultimate destination, we did learn some things that we'll keep in mind next time we're back (like take your bike so you can ride the paved miles!). We'll definitely be visiting Lake Isabelle this summer, as the pictures I've seen are absolutely stunning. It sits a bit higher in the bowl of jagged peaks that you can see in some of the pics I took around Long Lake.

And onto said pics...

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