While California has been struggling through a drought, Colorado has been enjoying a pretty luscious summer. The amount of rain we’ve been getting was made very apparent when we hiked through the mountains near Telluride in July.
We were road tripping to Zach’s family reunion. A perfect opportunity to do some camping and exploring. On our way to the area where we hoped to camp we drove through a heavy rain and hail storm. Not ideal camping weather you might think. And yes, you’re correct. Thankfully, the back of the car is big enough to allow two people to sleep fairly comfortably!
We filled our couple of days in the mountains with camp food (canned chili, s’mores, and beer), camp site exploring, a short trip through the town of Telluride, and a hike that ended unlike any other hike we’d been on.
Stumbling upon the Hope Lake trail wasn’t exactly an accident. We’d heard there was a trail head at the end of the windy road near our campsite. Supposedly it ended at a little lake. The sign said 2.5 miles. We had a couple hours of daylight left so that seemed doable.
It was one of the most diverse trails I’ve ever been on and I’ve hiked the big island of Hawaii. One of the most unusual compilations of climate zones in the world.
I won’t attempt to write out descriptions of the landscape. Even the pictures barely do it justice. All I will say is all of the colors were brilliantly vibrant. The water we crossed was so cold it made our entire bodies hurt, truly.
It was a fairly isolated trail. So isolated that I assumed we would run into deer and possibly bears but aside from one deer the only creatures we encountered were fluffy marmots that were not at all interested in joining our trek.
After an hour the common “are we there yet” feeling started to take over. After almost another hour and another serious ascension up a mountain we came upon a young couple that gave us some encouragement. The young man told us he’d been hiking for years and had never seen anything like it. Keep going, he said, it’s worth the next 20 minutes.
The 20 minutes were filled with slippery red mud along the mountain's edge and then the trail slowly started to disappear into the green flora covering the mountain side. A stream crept it’s way back down the mountain but we continued upwards. The hikers we’d encountered told us it wouldn’t be the first ridge we came to, you have to make it to the second ridge. The 20 minutes felt closer to 40 but the thrill of the hunt for Hope Lake was keeping us moving, as well as the threat of a quickly descending sun.
And then it was there. Hope Lake, a frozen alpine lake. It looked like we were on a different planet. Awe inspiring to say the very least. It was one of those moments where you just stand there in silence trying to comprehend the existence of something so unusual.
What we thought was going to be an easy hike to see a little lake turned into something much more challenging and rewarding.
We stayed as long as we could before racing back down the trail past the peeved marmots, through the frigid water, and towards the trailhead where we had started our adventure.
It was a brilliant experience. A little unnerving at times but well worth the challenges to experience the unsettling beauty of the trail.