Yesterday was moving day - eight miles north from Nathrop, Colorado, back to Buena Vista, Colorado. We didn't even bother to hook up Jules when we left Chalk Creek RV Park (read our review and see photos here). We were set up by noon, and spend the rest of the day doing a whole lot of nothing.
Today was a different story! Denver, like a lot of the nation, is experiencing a heat wave, and so are we here at 8100 feet up in the Rockies. That meant today was a good day to visit another alpine lake.
We met up with Buddy and Jackie at 9 am and took off for Waterdog Lakes, along the east side of Monarch Pass. The trail to the upper lake is 2 miles long and was rated "easy" on one of the websites we've been using, even though it starts at 10,200 feet elevation and gains 1,300 feet by the time you reach the upper lake at 11,500 feet.
EASY! What were they thinking??
We missed the official trailhead, so started at a spur trail that went up quickly and steeply for a quarter mile before joining the official trail. A steep climb is not my favorite way to warm up for a hike! The trail remained fairly steep and very rocky for the entire hike - once again, I straggled along in the rear sucking up the thin air.
It was worth it. These high-elevation hikes to alpine lakes surrounded by wildflowers in glacier-scoured bowls... they are indescribable. The air smells wonderful, the colors are vivid, the water is clear. We sat on a big rock to eat our lunch, comfortable in t-shirts with the sunshine on our faces and the breeze at our backs - a fine, fine way to begin August.
After lunch, we poked around the edges of Upper Waterdog Lake. We found a few small patches of Colorado's state flower, the Rocky Mountain Columbine - rare and protected by law. Standing on a bluff above the lake, we watched trout laze near the shore. What a spot!
The return hike was far easier; we were back home around 3 pm. I hauled my pack inside and cleaned it out, took off my hiking boots and jeans, reclined on the bed and took a 2 hour nap. Whew!