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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Blue Lakes Hike - New View 8/21/2015

I try to get up to the Blue Lakes at least once each year - hopefully more.  Unfortunately, on this trip the smoke haze from the fires in the northwest US and northern Idaho had filtered into the area for about a week.  This summer it has been either rain or fire smoke to thwart hiking and photography.  But, regardless of the conditions (unless they're just unbearable) I decided to head on up to the Blue Lakes anyway.  However, I usually follow the trail and go on up to the upper lakes.  After checking things out on Google Earth, I decided I'd like to bushwhack up the west slopes above the lower lake and see what the perspective was like up there.  So, that's what I did.  Since I knew it would not be a place to haul nice photography gear, I decided this would be mostly a Gopro photo session.  I had my point and shoot camera, but didn't use it much.  The Gopro gives an interesting view with its wide angle lens.  I actually like several of the shots that I took with it.


I arrived at just about sunrise and headed up the trail.  I was surprised that the sky looked somewhat blue.  It had been gray and white for a week.



It actually looks like this trip won't be a photography bust after all.



Even though it was later in August, there were still a few wildflowers around.



The sky is still not too hazy as I approach the lower lake.  The goal is the ridge just above the tree tops on the right.



The lower lake was beautiful as usual.  I still say this is one of the most beautiful places on planet earth.



View looking back to Mt. Sneffels on the way up the mountain.



My rock perch high above the lower lake.  Oops - got my knee in the picture.  It's getting more hazy now, but still fantastic views.



A few columbines were still nestled in the rocks up high.  That's a harsh environment to grow in?



There were signs of mountain sheep all over this area.  On the way down I noticed this bed where the grass was packed down right in front of the rock in the center of the picture.  A nap-spot with a view to die for!



I returned to the lake down this steep grassy slope.  There were little "ball-bearing" rocks hidden under the grass.  Three times my feet zipped out from under me and I would instantly be on my back, sliding down the slope.  A few scratches were the only damage - but, it got old really quick.



Couldn't resist a photo of this old snag as I got back down near the lake.



I also had to get a parting shot of the lower lake.




On the way down I ran into these nice folks from Texas.  They also have a home in Ridgway.  As I approached he said, "I bet you didn't expect to see horses up here today".  Me laughing - "that's for sure, or any day for that matter."  Him - "the locals said people ride horses up this trail all the time."  Me - "I've never seen horses on this trail, nor sign of them. Not sure those locals know what they're talking about."  She - "there were some really steep parts that were scary".  Me - "well you're past the steepest parts, so you can enjoy the trip from here on."  She "oh good."



Now there's evidence of horse travel on this trail.


On the way down I noticed a narrow spot where the bank had nearly given way with one of the horses.  It doesn't look it, but this is a very steep hillside down to the left.  Note the sunken hoof prints on the left edge of the trail.



Lots of "shrooms" due to the summer rains.



I interrupted this doe taking an afternoon siesta!



The Gopro makes for interesting overhead shots.  Just as I got back to my pickup, it began to rain and hail.  My timing was perfect.  Another fantastic hike to the Blue Lakes was in the books.  I can't wait to come back again.  Thank you Lord for such beautiful places and the strength to visit them.  I'm blessed!