Thursday, August 18, 2016

Copper Lake

Copper Lake

One last backpacking trip for 2016. This time we went back to one of our favorite places: Copper Lake.

Copper Lake is located near Crested Butte in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, so it's a bit of a haul to get there. We left Fort Collins in the morning, made a couple quick stops along the way, and started hiking around 3. It's about a 5.2 mile hike, and only the last 1-1.5 miles gets steep. It also has a lot of good shade and some river crossings, so it's quite a nice hike. An added bonus was the wildflowers this time. I don't remember there being so many other times we've been up here, but they were really in bloom.


Through the years, I have a bunch of pictures of this lake and White Rock Mountain behind it (one even ended up in this book). It just looks so amazing in the morning and evening light. From our favorite campsite there, we get to step out of the tent to an amazing view.

On our second day, we decided to hike up to the nearby Triangle Pass. It was a little longer than we thought (3 miles each way), but with spectacular views. Unfortunately, it's also really rocky and Banksy ended up cutting a pad on his paw. I had a dog boot back at camp but not with us, so Christine fashioned a makeshift bootie out of some duct tape, gauze, and athletic tape. She's amazing.

Banksy's hurt paw

We made it back to camp and Banksy was super tired. He was happy to spend the rest of the afternoon laying around camp. A bit of a bummer because I'm sure he would have loved swimming in the lake, but we'll save that for next time.

With an actual dog boot available, our hike out the next day was totally fine. Christine and I ended up carrying Banksy's pack and other stuff so he didn't have to deal with that. Instead, he enjoyed trotting down the trail. Even with a hurt paw, he was quite happy. We took him the the vet at home, and his paw is great thanks to Christine cleaning out the cut and keeping some Neosporin on it. She should probably have a WooFR certification. (That joke is probably funny to about 3 people.)

It's time to clean up and put away our gear for the season, and we're already looking forward to next year's trips.
Family photo Christine and Banksy

Flickr album:
2016-08 Copper Lake

Friday, July 22, 2016

Kelly Lake

Medicine Bow Mountains
Well...they can't all be winners. :) For our second backpacking trip of the year, we decided to try something new - Kelly Lake in the Colorado State Forest State Park. This hike starts in the same spot as another lake hike we like (Clear Lake), so we were already ready for kind of a sucky start to a hike. It starts out on a dirt road that just bakes in the sun. What we weren't expecting, though, was horse traffic.

When we got to the trailhead there was a large group of several people and several horses. We asked if they were just starting or just finishing, and they had just finished a multi-day trip. That group didn't account for all of the horse trailers in the parking lot and when we looked at the trail registry we saw that there were a couple more large horsepacking groups of 8-10 in the area. (I can rant on why that's a bummer, but basically it boils down to: horse poop, flies, trash, and trail damage.)

This area looks a lot different than the last time we hiked here. Where there used to be tall pine trees providing shade, there is now a wasteland of downed trees. It looks like this area was a victim of beetle kill, and they have proactively chopped down all of those trees. Not only is it not great to look at, but it also meant no break from the hot sun for the first half of the hike.
Banksy hiking

The last couple miles of the trail are steep and rocky. We were going pretty slow, and Christine was feeling super tired. I took as much stuff from her pack as I could to make the climb easier. It wasn't until the next day that we figured out she was sick, not just tired. She slept almost all of Saturday and didn't feel like eating much. Seven miles into the wilderness isn't the most convenient place to find out that you're sick. Thankfully, she started feeling a little better on Saturday evening and I didn't have to carry her down to the car on Sunday. :)

I did a little fishing and some hiking Saturday with Banksy to a saddle above the lake while Christine rested. We got an early start Sunday to make the nearly 7 mile hike out ahead of the afternoon sun. It's a nice lake, but I don't think we'll be back any time soon. The combination of a long exposed hike, lots of bugs, and more people than I'd expect in the backcountry (at least a dozen) will move this pretty low on my list of hikes to repeat. Iy might be a better one to hit in the fall.

Christine hiking Break time

Banksy had a great time playing in the snow. 2016-07-16_12_banksy_playing_in_the snow (no sound)
2016-07-16_13_banksy_playing_in_the snow (no sound)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

American Lakes

Between our various injuries, an aging dog, and increasingly busy schedules, backpacking trips have been very light the last few years. We made a plan back in the spring to change that and blocked out some weekends on the calendar for camping.

For our first trip, we returned to an old favorite: The American Lakes. This is a special place for us. It's the first place we ever went camping together, and we've been up there almost every year since. For this edition, our friends Julie and Nathan joined us for the afternoon. Compared to previous years, there seemed to be a lot more water along the trail. This was great news for Banksy, who enjoyed having plenty of water to drink, and streams to stomp through.

Of all the times I've been up there I've never seen fish in the lower lakes, but this time we saw many. I'm wondering if they stocked it at some point. As it turns out, I actually forgot to pack my fly reel. (I guess I'm rusty at this whole backpacking thing.) I ended up tying a leader directly to the end of my fly rods and fishing tenkara-style, and surprisingly I caught a couple.
American Lakes pano

I don't remember the last time we hiked to the upper lake, Snow Lake, but we went up this time. It must have been a good snow year, because it was still partly covered in snow. Banksy saw a stick out in the water and couldn't stop himself from rescuing it from the icy cold water.
Banksy fetches a stick

Christine and Banksy lounging

The evening colors are amazing here.

In the morning we walked up to a nearby snow field and had some fun sliding down. Banksy mostly had fun getting in our way and trying to tackle us.

Ryan sledding

For our first backpacking trip of the year, and first in a while, we all survived pretty well. Looking forward to another next weekend.
Family shot Morning in the tent

More photos here:
2016-07 American Lakes

This was our first time up to these lakes without Kuzca, and our first backpacking trip without her in a very long time (since 2007 I think). :( We miss her, but enjoy remembering all of the great trips we shared. Here she is on a previous trip to this area.
2007-09-08_34_kuzca_poses_at_the_border_of_rocky_mountain_national_park 2005-10-01_21_christine_and_kuzca