On day two the Staffords and I did an approximately 11 mile hike from the Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Blue Lake and back.
Note: Click each photo to view it at a larger size.
The Glacier Gorge region, shot from Blue Lake shelf on the upper east wall of Glacier Gorge:
Ben and I took the regular trail to see Alberta Falls while Mr. and Mrs. Stafford took the shorter, less known fire trail and we met just before Mills Lake. (Mills is the large lake farther away in the photo above.) Ben and I weren’t very inspired by the falls and quickly hiked past it, making up time in order to meet his parents. We all stopped for a short rest and snack break around 2.5 miles in at Mills Lake.
Across Mills Lake you can see the north west side of Longs Peak illuminated in the morning sun.
I zoomed in with my telephoto lens and could see people at the top of Longs…that was us just a few days later!
We continued along and hit Jewel Lake about 3.1 miles in. (Jewel is the closer, smaller lake in the Glacier Gorge photo above.) Across the lake on the south west side of Jewel Lake we saw a few elk soaking up the sun:
We kept pushing along in order to reach Black Lake by lunch. Most of this time I had my camera in my pack (a nice Kelty Tornado which I found for $10 at a rummage sale the week before…a total steal!) I brought my camera back out around 4.7 miles in at Ribbon Falls. Here is a shot of the beautiful scenery we saw as we hiked up the rocks by a cascade from Black Lake:
We ate our lunch at Black Lake. Above to the left is McHenry’s Peak and to the right is Arrowhead:
We had approximately another mile of hiking and about 1000 feet in elevation gain to go in order to reach Blue Lake. The problem was that there is no path to it. It is not even on most maps. Most of the lakes above Black Lake require you to hike in their general direction and find them. This was definitely the case with Blue Lake. We followed a creek above Black Lake and then cut sharply left and in order to find Blue.
Halfway up the creek I turned around and snapped a few photos of Black Lake, Arrowhead, and McHenry’s again:
The beautiful area above Black Lake (Longs Peak is the flat one in the center):
The Staffords, taken while we were trying to figure out where Blue Lake was:
After much bushwhacking through krummholz and climbing up steep rocks, we finally made it to Blue Lake. The view from up there was worth the 5.5 mile, 2000 feet elevation gain one-way hike. The lake was beautiful and we could see almost the entire Glacier Gorge area (photo at the top).
Ben scouts ahead and finds a good route to get down to the lake:
The south west edge of Blue Lake with the Spearhead in the distance:
Here is a photo I forgot to post last time. After the Odessa Loop hike we went over to Sheep Lakes and got to see some Bighorn ewes come down the mountain to get some of the minerals in the lakes: