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Blue Lake Trail, Rawah Wilderness, CO, June 28, 2008

August 17, 2008

Posted August 17, 2008

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Late in June, Will and I headed up to the Blue Lake trailhead (just before you get to Cameron Pass up the Poudre River). You hit timberline right before getting to Blue Lake itself, but I thought it was late enough in the summer that the snow would be mostly gone.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos I put in this site’s trip narrative.
I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. Use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (This link
will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.)
In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a topo map of the Blue Lake trail.
All links open a new browser window.

As part of my decision to use Microsoft’s Live Writer, I’ve included a map to see if it adds any value. You can click on the map to bring it up “live” in another window to zoom in/out, change it to aerial/satelite view, etc. I think it adds enough to leave it. I will still use Google maps for my links (see above) and because Google is integrated with my gallery.

Red tack shows approximate location of Blue Lake trailhead.
Red tack shows approximate location of Blue Lake trailhead.

Got up to the trailhead and the parking lot was pretty empty, blue sky, warm, and spotted a moose across the highway in a meadow. It actually was not that far away, but this photo makes it look that way.

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Zoom in max to show what it really looked like. Nice start to the day.

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After spending a few minutes with the moose, I headed back to the trailhead where Will was waiting (patiently) for me. Nice trailhead including a pretty good map of the trail.

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The trail descends (gently) to a nice bridge that allowed us to cross a rather full and rushing stream.

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I’ve come down this trail before and been tempted to cross the stream on some logs. But, not tempted today : )

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The trail ascends a short distance………….

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Till you intersect with what used to be a road that you will follow for approximately the first mile. It’s a mostly level “walk” along the road/trail. Fairly pleasant, but hard to get any view due to the trees.

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That said, occasionally you will get a glance at the country to the south of the trail . Even enough to catch a glimpse of Chambers Lake.

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Hmmmm. What’s that?

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Why, it appears to be a little bit of left over snow. No big deal.

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The road does have a few small stream crossings. Not sure how much water it would hold late in the summer. But today it’s pretty nice.

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Will checking out the small stream crossing.

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Slightly different view.

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At long last, we got a glimpse of some of the mountains we would be hiking into. Interesting. White stuff. Probably no big deal.

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Here is a little zoom of that. Hmmm. Lots of white stuff. O well, that’s way up high..

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When you reach this point you can see the main stream (Fall Creek) down the little trail to the right. You are leaving the old road and getting ready to head uphill. Interesting. More snow.

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Here is Will on the bridge that crosses Fall Creek. Later in the summer the bridge is probably unnecessary, but this early in the season it’s a really good thing to have.

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Lots of water coming down today.

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We saw (and climbed over) a lot of downed trees along the trail. Looks like a forest crew has been by to do a little trail clearing. They must have been pretty selective about which trees to cut (or, a bunch more fell down after they cut these).

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Entrance to the Rawah Wilderness.

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And then, the mosquitoes came.

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You could run, but you could not hide : )

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Yes, a portion (a mile or so) of the trail hit the perfect combination of time of day, time of year, wet conditions, etc., to allow the mosquitoes population to, umm, explode. I usually don’t need mosquito repellent, but if I had had some for this hike, both Will and myself would have used it. That said, thinking back over time, the Rawahs have always seemed to have a rather strong mosquito presence.

But, Will used his ingenuity and I just tried to ignore them.

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We were getting high enough to get some nice views. Both long range……….

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And close up (yes, water everywhere)………

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Zoom in……..

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Hmmm. More white stuff. Much more. Well, surely just some isolated patches. It did not bother me much (gore tex lined boots), but Will was wearing low profile hiking shoes that had no waterproofing. So, wet feet.

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I did start to see more flowers the higher up we got. Which meant, more flower photos.

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Macro…..

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Snow and sunshine.

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More flowers.

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Macro….

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Where a lot of our water comes from ………

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After around 2+ miles, you get to a nice open park. Lots of meadows, good views, flat trail, and, at this time of year, streams full of water. You can just see the “planks” under the surface of the water where the normal crossing takes place. And you can see Will using the alternate “high water” crossing : )

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Also, if you look into the forest behind Will (where the trail goes) you will note a lot of snow. However, I tried to ignore that at first and just contented myself with looking at the surrounding countryside.

This is looking up the stream we just crossed. You can “just barely” see someone through the trees. We saw a few other people on the trail (but, the vast majority of the time we never had anyone else around; so, not really hordes of hikers : )

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And across the valley at a snow-free ridge.

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We decided to march on into the forest. And immediately ran into three rather concerning issues. The first was that it was a trifle difficult to locate the trail under the snow. The second was that the snow was soft and deep enough that both of us were getting quite wet feet.

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And the third thing was that our progress had slowed dramatically (I knew we had slightly less than a mile to go, but that could take hours at our reduced speed). It was time to consider options. So, while Will made ready, I tried to come up with a plan.

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OK. I could see that the area around the stream we crossed seemed to be free(er) of snow. So, maybe we could just follow the stream (I knew the stream headed pretty much in the direction we needed to move)? Worth a try, so off we took and slogged it down to the stream (where it may have had less snow, but the meadows were still rather wet : )
Along the way I came upon some “rooms” and just had to take a picture (really, my camera forced me : )

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Close up……..

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Now, one of the reasons I wanted to photograph the mushroom was because I was surprised to see them popping up out of the ground so early in the year. Still a little nippy at night (and snow everywhere).
Therefore, imagine my surprise when I found mushrooms actually growing “out of the snow”! Amazing (I’ve never seen that before).

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Anyway, Will and I made it down to (and across) the stream. His feet were soaked by now, but he said he was willing to make a try following the stream up to see if that would get us to Blue Lake.

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View with no human…….. It really was quite nice. Warm, sunny, no wind. And, no mosquitoes in this area.

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I thought the mix of the snow and the flowers interesting. The photos don’t do it justice, but I tried.

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Zoom a little closer to try and show the flowers in the background.

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Will enjoying the ambiance of the setting.

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A look at the small creek that we were going to hike up in an attempt to reach Blue Lake.

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We did pretty well at first. But the further we went, the snow coverage just seemed to increase.

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While both Will and I were having some fun (right : ), it eventually got to the point of “time to turn back.”

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So, we headed back down, enjoying the snow free sections where possible.

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Going back down went a little faster than coming up (definitely made it easier getting through the section with all the mosquitoes : )
What I hadn’t remembered were all the downed trees that we had to cross over.

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Sure seemed like a big wind storm had hit a few weeks ago and brought down many (hundreds ?) trees all along a big section of the trail.

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This did add some variety to the trail (besides the sun, water, snow, and mosquitoes : )

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Pays to be just a little cautious climbing up/down/through the blowdowns. It would be easy to sprain an ankle (or worse) which could cause a fair amount of hardship getting to the end of the trail.

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Anyway, we did make it down to the trailhead with no mishap other than a few extra mosquito bites. And while we did not make it to Blue Lake, I’d have to say the trip was a success. We saw some very pretty country, at a neat time of year. I did add a bottle of mosquito repellent to my pack after getting back to Fort Collins : )

– Geoff Weatherford

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2008 3:48 am

    Good. Google map-based tool shows symptoms for any geographical spot.

  2. August 24, 2008 6:58 pm

    Yes, I need to spend more time researching all the neat tools out there.

    Thanks,

    Geoff Weatherford

  3. June 9, 2013 8:54 am

    Very interesting information!Perfect just the thing We were looking for!

    • June 9, 2013 12:53 pm

      Glad I could help. May want to wait till July : )

      GeoffW

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