Two more hikes

Two more great hikes to write about, from Grand Lake. Yesterday I hiked uphill from the lakeshore to the Shadow Mountain fire tower, almost ten miles round trip. I started soon after seven, I was the first car in the parking lot, and didn't see another hiker until I was on my way down.

Very soon after I left the start line I heard a rustle in the bushes and saw what I thought was an elk, but I later found out was a mule deer. It ignored me. The path followed the lake for a while and I noticed a pelican and lots of ducks. After entering the Rocky Mountains National Park the path started to climb, but the climbing was gradual and I motored along. The walk was almost entirely in the forest with only occasional views. It's a shame that so many of the trees in the forest are dead from bark beetle infestation.

I popped out at the fire tower quite suddenly. It wasn't quite on top of the mountain but it was the highest you could go. The fire tower is a historic building but it's closed for climbing. The views from up there were great, looking down onto the main lake, Grand Lake, but also good views over Lake Granby and Shadow Lake (both latter are manmade). I startled a wild turkey as I clambered onto a rock to sit, and then saw my first hummingbird.

As I was leaving the summit area I heard more rustling and there was another mule deer just by the trail. It wandered off. Further down I startled a lone deer and then a pair of deer. On my descent I met another hiker, who recommended the Adams Falls hike to Lone Pine Lake.

So that's what I did today, 11 miles. In many ways it was more my kind of hike than yesterday's. There was a lot of trail in the forest but also plenty of time spent on a ridge above meadows and out in the open.

The trail started with a detour to Adams Falls, where the Colorado River is forced through a narrow gorge. The Falls were impressive, as was the rushing river above the Falls. After early climbing the trail came out into the open above extensive meadows. The river snaked through the meadows surprisingly peacefully in view of the raging torrent it was about to become. On my return along here, several hours later, I saw a moose in the meadow, and further on I saw an elk, replete with antlers. The moose was obviously a big deal because all the people around me became very excited.

I had the trail to myself almost to the lake. I was alternately in steep sided gorges, following the river, passing waterfalls and deep in the forest. I kept looking up and wondering where the lake would be, and also wondering how much I was going to climb because the craggy peaks around me seemed very high. I think the lake must sit in a sort of pass between the mountains.

The temperature was perfect for hiking, no wind, and I thoroughly enjoyed moving along in silence. The lake itself was larger than I expected, and featured a small island with a pine tree (presumably the lone pine) and some saplings. It was still below the tree line. The edges of the lake were swampy and I saw one small patch of snow. There were tons of mosquitoes but they showed no interest in me, phew. 

It was a lovely peaceful spot and I sat on a rock that was actually in the lake (I jumped over to it). I was completely alone. Then I started back down. I had planned to make lots of stops but in the end I only stopped once to rest on a rock jutting out over the valley. It was getting very warm. Also the trail was really busy as I headed down. 

Lone Pine Lake


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