Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hike to Arapahoe Lakes

This Saturday I went on a little afternoon hike up to Arapahoe Lakes in the James Peak Wilderness. I knew the light would not be very good, but I was a little stir crazy. (Scroll all the way down this post for a neat video of the adventure)

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This is a classic Colorado hike. You start from the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel where the train goes under the continental divide. You hike up crossing several streams until you get to an open area where you turn right on forest lakes trail. You go up, cross a usually raging stream until you get to the next intersection where you go left to Arapahoe Lakes. Then you go up following Arapahoe creek. The first part of this is usually self route finding as the trail is very unclear. Then when you hit treeline about, you turn left following the stream and you'll end up at the lake. This is the theory at least. I was hoping to make some flowershots, but everything is late this year. There were lots of Marsh Marigolds and the trail was extraordinarily wet. This is what the trail looked like in many places:

Some of the Marigolds:

Wetter than I have ever seen it and it usually is quite wet and muddy in places. The area is clearly set to explode with flowers soon so I should come back in a few weeks. I saw one or two Columbines in bloom, but clearly there were thousands of just starting ones that were yet to bud. After the intersection to Arapahoe Lakes, I made my usual mistake of forgetting you need to cross two streams right after each other. I only crossed the first and ended up at a lower lake that is unnamed (you can see it on the map above). This was a long hard slog because there was an incredible amount of snow still here. I think you might even be able to ski down all the way if you're very good. So I cut right and found the right stream again and followed it up.

I found the lake and took some simple shots. There were millions of mosquitoes here all lining up to get every last drop of blood I have. Here is an image I took overlooking Arapahoe lake.

As you can see very few flowers still. This will change soon I'm sure. I hiked up to the ridge between Arapahoe Lakes and Crater Lakes as I wanted to escape the mosquitoes. Here is an overview with some tiny alpine flowers on it.

On the way down, I sank up to my thighs into a snowfield and had to dig myself out if I did not want to lose my one-day-old Keenes. Luckily I was able to work myself free. Here is a field of little flowers just below the lake.

I was now able to follow the right stream down. This is what it looked like most of the time. Lots of snow still.

Further down I ran into the confluence of the two creeks and had to back up a ways before I could cross the lighter running one. This is a nice slowed down shot of the slow one, making the water silky.

Stitched at 35 MP, this image has amazing detail and should print very large indeed.

Some more Marigolds in the trail further down:

I liked this lone flower on a hill next to the trail.

A Columbine I saw:

A very big waterfall. This one is very close to the trailhead but it is hidden. You mostly just hear it and you have to bushwhack a little to get to it:

A detail from this fall:

I am experimenting a little with video too and I made a little movie from this hike that you can view below. The roar of the waterfalls was inescapable everywhere and I filmed my easiest creek crossing (didn't want to risk dropping the little videocamera in the water). Enjoy!

You can check this video out in even higher def here.

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