Backpacking to Blue Lake, Part I

August 2, 2007 at 1:18 pm

So we’ve heard so many great tales of friends hiking and backpacking in the mountains lately, that Mark and I decided it was time to get our sorry butts out to the wilderness last weekend.

I’ve put the first batch of photos up in the gallery.

We left Ft Collins a little late on Friday evening, and it rained for most of the two hour drive up the Poudre Canyon. Everything was so wet by the time we reached the Blue Lake Trailhead, that we decided to just find a free place to park and sleep in the car. We drove across the street to Long Draw Road, and quickly stumbled upon a very nice, quiet, free site. Hmm, have to remember that these are here for the next time we’re camping in the area.


Mark said it was the worst night of sleep he’d had in a long time. I guess the car just isn’t long enough for him AND the dog. I did ok, and after making coffee and packing up, we hit the Blue Lake Trail at around 9am on Saturday morning.


We moved quickly over the flat-to-undulating first couple of miles, but started to slow down as the trail steepened. Around noon, we hit a serious rain shower, and we decided to pitch the tent in a nearby spot and wait out the rain there. We had about an hour to dry off and eat lunch before the sun came out. Looking at the wet rainfly and gear sitting in the sun, we figured it would be best to leave everything where it was and go look for a better site up near the lake. So we took some water and our raincoats and finished the last 20 minutes of hiking up to Blue Lake.

Columbine Beside Blue Lake

This large alpine lake sits right at tree line, nestled in a little valley between Clark Peak (12,951ft) and Cameron Peak (12,127ft). As the sun came out and everything dried off, we had a beautiful afternoon to walk around the lake and enjoy the area. The wildflowers were in full bloom, and columbine covered the banks of the lake.


Eventually, we scrambled up to Hang Lake, which sits about 500ft above Blue Lake at about 11,150ft. The view of distant Rocky Mountain National Park, Never Summer Mountains, and Mummy Range was incredible from there. And it looked like those mountains were seeing much worse weather than we were.


Eventually we had to head back to find a campsite. We saw some great sites down in the trees next to the lake, but there were signs everywhere saying that there was no camping allowed within 0.25 miles of Blue Lake. This didn’t seem to bother the 30 other people we saw camping down there, though. We found a nice site in the woods just off the trail just before the “No Camping Past This Point!” sign, moved all of our gear and tent stuff up the hill, and set up for the night.


Unlike our last trip two years ago, this time we brought a little wad of mosquito netting with us. I found this little mosquito tent at REI for $20 a few years ago. It’s only 3.5ft tall and maybe 6ft long by 4ft wide. It’s supposed to hang over your camp bed inside your canvas safari tent, I think. But we stuck it in one of Mark’s pack pockets for the hike up, and then hung it between a couple close together trees for a very short dining fly. Boy, was that nice. As the evening wore on, the whole south side of the netting was buzzing with those little buggers. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have to sit out in that swarm.

Mark was exhausted and fell asleep before it was even dark out. I read my little novel and eventually fell asleep myself.