Location: Indian Peaks
Wilderness, near Nederland, Colorado
Christine and I got a late start, and only made the trailhead by 11:30, a dangerous thing to do in summer in the Rockies. Still, the sky looked relatively benign, and we scouted out a parking spot (no small feat) near the trailhead and loaded some gear in packs for a short hike to King Lake. It was a warm, beautiful day that reminds me of why I enjoy hiking in Colorado so much.
We began by hiking downhill along a rough, rocky road that is passable to high-clearance vehicles wanting to shave ½ mile off the hike. Parts of this road were underwater, so we used the foot trail that passed north of the road to the real trailhead. The trail was well-signed and easy to follow. It began in thick spruce/fir forest with a thick understory of marsh marigolds and yellow pea, all in bloom. We marched over thick patches of hard snow still hanging on despite the recent heat, and rivulets of water seemed to drain through every gulch and depression.
We passed several people on their way down from hiking, some with happy canines trotting along beside them. A bridge spanned Middle Boulder Creek, and beyond we entered the Indian Peaks Wilderness. We continued on uphill to a trail junction, and another bridge that spanned a beautiful whitewater cascade that the trail shadowed for some time. Beyond the trail junction, we encountered very few people, and continued on up the mountain in the silence of the woods, broken only by conversation or the rustling of icy water down the mountain.
It clouded over halfway up, and we began to worry we might not safely make it to King Lake. Above treeline, the trail often disappeared in snow, forcing us to find our own way, but since it was all krumholtz and rock, it wasnít too hard to keep on course. The cirque holding King Lake was pretty obvious for some time before we got there, and we kept heading in that direction when the trail wasnít apparent. Near the lake, we heard thunder rumbling overhead, but no ground strikes of lightening. We reached King Lake, a perfect alpine lake of deep blue ringed by rock and snow, under foreboding clouds. The weather was deteriorating, so we didnít dally long. Snapped a few pictures, then turned right around and began the descent. It would have been great to take in Bob and Betty Lakes also, but the weather was absolutely not cooperating with that plan.
We slipped down the trail, passing a couple of teenage girls on a backpacking trip, and soon it began to rain. I hadnít brought my rainjacket (stupid!), so I put on my fleece jacket and hoped the rain wouldnít last too long. Luckily, it didnít. In fact, 30 minutes later the sun was out and the sky was clear. Funny how fast things can move on like that.
We stopped at a nice waterfall
on the way down, and took lots of pictures and enjoyed the roar of the
water. We picked up a canine follower for a while, until she found her
humans down the trail as we began walking that way. We reached the car
at around 3:00, then cruised into Boulder for a burrito at Chipotle.