Thursday, June 29
Aside from a short walk one day on my Atlanta trip back in April, I haven’t been hiking yet this year. It’s past time to rectify this.
Back in the depths of winter, I did a bit of map study and came up with a list of ten day hikes I might possibly make this year. Most of the hikes on this list are in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. One of them is Skyscraper Reservoir, which is reached via the Woodland Lake trail from the Hessie Trailhead.
Much of the lower part of the route is along the South Fork of Middle Boulder Creek. To get to the Woodland Lake trail, one must head north from this stream. On the map, there appear to be two options. The first is the trail I took last summer to reach Jasper Lake and Devils Thumb Lake. This trail runs parallel to another trail that connects the King Lake trail and the Woodland Lake trail. The two trails run on opposite sides of what I assume is Jasper Creek. The trails are never more than about a thousand feet apart, but neither trail is visible from the other. As I’ve already hiked the eastern one of these, I elected to take the western one.
This turned out to be a sound choice. There’s a spur trail connecting the two about a mile from Middle Boulder Creek. I assumed there’d be a bridge here to cross the creek. It doesn’t look like there ever was a bridge here. Many of the trails began as wagon tracks, and this crossing is simply a ford. Given the amount of snowpack the Indian Peaks received this year and the continued wet weather, the North Fork of Boulder Creek is flowing high and mighty. I’d probably be okay wading across it in August or September, but not today.
Part of the mile of trail between Middle Boulder Creek and the Woodland Lake trail can be challenging to follow. The trail gets a bit braided. It’s surprisingly easy to get off what should be the main trail onto something more like a game trail. I managed to do this hiking in both directions. It was more obvious on the way out. At one point, I knew I was on a trail I hadn’t been on earlier. I backtracked a bit but never did find where I went wrong.
Only about a quarter of a mile after the ford where the spur from the Jasper Lake trail, there’s a bridge that crosses the stream the trail is now following. To be more correct, the trail crosses the stream but the bridge is gone. Well, not “gone” so much as broken into pieces and lying in the middle of a raging torrent. It looks to me like this bridge has been out for a while, but I could be mistaken.
Again, given the flow of water, I wasn’t about to attempt a crossing. Clearly, I wouldn’t be reaching either Woodland Lake or Skyscraper Reservoir today. When I set out, I figured I might have time on the hike out to make a side trip to Lost Lake. Instead of a side trip, Lost Lake got promoted to today’s destination.
It’s only about a quarter of a mile from the main trail, up the spur to Lost Lake. The last few yards are the steepest. By the time I reached this steeper part, I’d already hiked about two and a half miles farther than anybody else here. I was powering my way up, huffing and puffing and sweating, when a downhill hiker felt the need to encourage me: “You’re already there!”
Lost Lake is a kidney-shaped body of water covering a bit less than five acres on the northern flank of Bryan Mountain, a non-descript peak topping out at less than 11,000′. There are nine campsites situated around the lake, and a trail (along with a network of social trails) circumnavigates the lake. The best view, in my opinion, is found on the eastern shore, looking a bit west of due north.
The trail guide says Lost Lake is a 2.7-mile round trip. I’m not sure if that’s the correct distance or not. If it’s measured from the trailhead, the hike is another half a mile each way. I’ve only ever seen one or two vehicles actually make it to the trailhead due to the deep water on the road that services it. Everybody else just parks along the main road. In any event, Lost Lake is the shortest hike from the Hessie trailhead and is therefore the busiest destination on the menu.
I stayed at the lake for a bit over an hour. There was a steady stream of hikers coming and going, and it looked to me like all the good shoreline resting spots were in constant use. At least a few of the folks didn’t seem to realize how well sound travels over water, and the other people there could clearly hear their conversation. I had my picnic lunch and relaxed, while other hikers fished or swam.
My first disappointment of the day was the washed-out bridge that stymied my hike to Skyscraper Reservoir. My second disappointment of the day was my peach. I should have realized it’s far too early in the season to get my favorite Palisade peaches, but when I bought them, they seemed ripe. I want my peach flesh soft, juicy, and sweet. Instead, it was crunchy like an apple; not very juicy, not terribly sweet, and only vaguely peach-flavored. So it goes.
While I ate and rested, I had my GoPro Max doing a timelapse. I should have played around with this camera before doing this. It doesn’t work at all like either of my older GoPros. With those, when I’m doing a timelapse, it snaps a still photo every two seconds (or whatever interval I want). After an hour or so, I’d have a couple of thousand stills that I can crop in whatever way I want. That allows me to make sure the image is not cockeyed, or to crop them in a way that simulates zooming or panning. Disappointment three is that the new camera outputs not a bunch of still photos, but a fully-formed 1080p video. My video editing tools allow me to do the pan/zoom/rotate thing, but I would lose quite a bit of resolution. Unless I figure out how to take a still photo every two seconds, I’ll have to continue using the older camera for time-lapse videos.
Shortly after leaving Lost Lake, the clouds started getting a bit threatening. By the time I made it back to the car, it had started to hail. The skies to the west didn’t look good at all. Perhaps it was a good thing that I couldn’t take my longer intended hike. I had my rain jacket with me, but I might very well have spent a few hours slogging through the rain.