Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Crater Lakes

Learned something very important today -- I can get both kids ready for school, see Taryn off at the bus stop in the morning, drive to the Moffat Tunnel East Portal trailhead, hike the Crater Lakes Trail all the way to the upper lakes and back, and get home in time to greet her at the bus stop in the afternoon.  Winning!

The trail started out fairly level, so I was able to make good time.  I didn't leave myself much margin for error, so I even had to be judicious about how often I stopped to take pictures.  Old, abandoned buildings still beg for me to stop and take a monochrome shot, though.

The trail at one point went right through this slot between two big boulders.  How cool is that?

The final stretch to the upper lakes was technically a "route" and not a "trail," which I believe simply means it's not maintained.  I had to hunt around for it a bit, partly because I was hoping this nearly vertical ascent wasn't it.  It was.

But the tough climb paid off with some great views of the upper lakes.

Ginny had tremendously sure footing on the talus.  I let her lead on the way back and she picked a solid trail.

Very cool colors in the water of the westernmost of the five lakes.

I thought I missed seeing the fifth lake, but double-checking the map and this photo I see it just past the largest of the lakes on the left.

After going four years without ever seeing a marmot on a Colorado hike, I've now run into them twice in a row.  Ginny also took a keen interest, which is why I didn't get any really good shots of them.  But the little guy on the big rock here adds a certain something to the picture.

Fall is just around the corner when you start seeing foliage turning red.

The wildflowers were mostly fading, with butterflies still trying to get whatever nectar they could.

Even the late-blooming Black Eyed Susans were starting to wilt.

The east portal of the Moffat Tunnel seemed out of place and ominous.  It sort of looks like it's melting here, too.  I never did feel a train go rumbling underneath the trail, but I'm not sure if you ever do.

I've read a total round-trip distance of 8.2 miles including the upper lakes, but nothing specific on the additional elevation gain to get to them.  I'd estimate another 500 feet or so, putting it at about 2,000 feet total over the entire trail.

We made it back to the car in 3:51, including the normal stops for photos and a snack.  I need to come back sometime and check out some of the other lakes in the area!


mrs ackerman said...

Love your blog. What a great way to remember and document your hikes. I will look forward to viewing more. Thanks for sharing your link on the meetup. You've inspired me to start a new blog.

SteveHarbula said...

Thanks for the kind words! I've had a lot of fun with it. Definitely worth starting one of your own and seeing where it goes! :)