This morning dawned cold and rainy! That was a surprise! It’s not been rainy at all, unless an afternoon storm whips up. Dad and I were planning to hike to Lower Blue Lake today (which is right on the other side of the ridge from Yankee Boy Basin) one of the main reasons to hike up there was to enjoy the views probably not going to be so good on a rainy day. Weather forecasts around here are a crap shoot though, no one knows what it’s going to in the mountains so even though the forecast called for showers and storms all day we headed out anyway. We figured that if we got out there and we were miserable we’d bail, it was an out and back hike (rather than a loop) anyway.
We were going to have to commit a cardinal sin of hiking…we were heading out without a good map, without any map in fact! We couldn’t justify buying a $12 map so we could hike one day! Someone needs to start a “map rental” business where you can use a map for $2 day or something! We’d googled the trail and found a great description of it that Dad printed and we took with us. We also figured that the trail was popular and would be well worn and heavily signed. We were right!
On our way to the trailhead we had to drive through the small town of Ridgeway and the sign said “Home of the Grammy Awards”. Hmmm… I had good cell signal there so I googled it. According to Wikipedia, the actual Grammy award, the trophy that the winners take home, is made right here in Ridgeway, Colorado! Who knew! Also, Ridgeway has the only stop light in Ouray County! One stop light! For the whole county! Considering how many hours of my life I spend sitting a stop lights at home, a one stop light county sounds pretty good! Wonder if Ouray County Schools are hiring? LOL!
The way to the trailhead included about 10 miles on a dirt County/Forest Service Road. This road was tamer than the road to Yankee Boy, but more remote! There were no mines along this road! A few miles in a bear ran across the road! A small-ish black bear! We’d heard that there were bear around here, but we weren’t sure there actually were any…there’s at least one!
At the trailhead it wasn’t raining too much – it was cloudy and cold, but just a light drizzle. There were a number of backpackers coming down – this trailhead leads to some good backpacking places. We headed up. And up. And up. The rain actually stopped, the clouds cleared for a little while. The sun kinda came out, but it was mostly cloudy all day. This was fine by me! I’d rather it be cloudy and cooler than hot and sunny!
To get to the Lower Blue Lake it was 3.3 miles with bout 1,400 feet of elevation gain. I thought that this was going to be easy. I mean compared to Flattop that was 4.4 miles and 2,800 feet of elevation gain, this was a walk in the park! Wow, was I surprised! The up was very steep in places and there were a ton of switchbacks. It seemed like it went on forever. I thought we’d never get to the lake. Occasionally we’d get views of Mt. Sneffels (one of the 14ers) and other nearby peaks, but mostly the trail was in the woods until the last mile or so, and even then there weren’t many views.
Finally we reached Lower Blue Lake! It was turquoise! Just like the glacial lakes in Banff and Jasper in Canada! The banks of the lake were filled with wildflowers! It was pretty nice! When we arrived the sun was shinning and there was blue sky! We settled down on a log to eat lunch and I was thinking I’d take my boots off and wade in a little after I ate. By the time I finished eating – maybe 10 minutes – the sun was gone, the clouds were back and the wind had kicked up! It was cold! No wading in the lake today!
There were almost as many wildflowers at Blue Lake as there were at Yankee Boy!
There are 2 more “blue” lakes that we had the option of visiting today – one was a half mile up the trail – with 500 more feet of elevation gain and the other was a 1/4 mile beyond the 2nd one. The guy who wrote the write up said you needed to go another 1/4 mile past the 3rd lake to get the best view. That would add 2 more miles to our trip, and a lot more steep “up”. Also it was getting cloudier and colder by the minute. We decided to enjoy Lower Blue Lake a bit more and then head back down.
The guy who did the write up we had said that you got a commanding view of Mt. Sneffels from the western bank of Lower Blue Lake. We took out the compass to see which was the western bank. We were standing on it. So where was Sneffels? Turns out, it was behind a cloud!
The trip down seemed to go faster than the trip up! It was all downhill, but it wasn’t so bad! Usually I hate going down, but this wasn’t so bad! The clouds that had been building at the lake broke up and we got some good views of the mountains on the way down!
After we got back to the campground and had dinner we drove in Ouray to visit the Hot Springs pool! This was a very nice hot springs pool! The pool was huge and a bunch of different “zones”. There was a warm shallow zone, some cooler shallow zones with sprayers for the kids, a deep area that wasn’t very warm and a lap area that wasn’t very warm, and a hot area, that was toasty. Dad and I hung out in the hot area and watched a thunderstorm build over the town. There were several loud rumbles of thunder, even a bolt of lightning high on the ridge above town, but they didn’t clear the pool! I was watching the lifeguards and I could tell the were talking about it, but they never cleared the pool. The storm went right around Ouray, I think the lifeguards knew that it would likely go around! After a little while in the hot area I went over to the lap area to swim some laps and then got back in the hot area! It was very nice!
After our swim we went back into Ouray, Mom had been looking in the shops while we swam and she had stuff to show us! One of the stores she took us too was right next to Mouse’s. Yes, I had another Scrap Cookie! This time there was a small one on the tray so I got that one! It was just as yummy as yesterday only a better portion size! YAY! I’ve enjoyed my 2 Scrap Cookies but I’m kinda glad this is our last night in Ouray…it was going to become a habit!Too see more pictures check out my album on Google+: Lower Blue Lake Hike