August 24, 2011

Ice Lake & Highland Mary Lake Trails - Camping Adventure Part IV

I thought I'd conclude my camping adventure blog series with a post about some of our hiking trails. The San Juan's are massive mountains, many of them ranging 13,000 - 14,000 feet in elevation. In the past we've rented a jeep to see the sites, but this year we decided to try hiking.

One of the hikes we planned was near our campground to see a waterfall not listed on any of our maps. It was one my husband and youngest daughter found on a previous vacation. Although I'm sure it has an official name, we fondly call it Abbey Falls. 


Another hike my family went on was the Ice Lakes Trail. Everyone but me, as it was the first day and I was suffering a bit from altitude sickness. 


Ice Lakes is a 7 mile hike (round trip), with an elevation gain of 2400'. I'm still not sure why my husband decided to take on the hardest hike the first day . . . but I really regret missing out as the sites were beautiful.


I hope to go on this trail next time and make it at least to the first lake where some of the most amazing flowers grow in the mountain meadows.  


Another day, we braved the Million Dollar Highway to Ouray and spent some time at the Lower Cascade Falls. Again it rained, and the trail was slick and muddy.
Our last hiking day, we'd planned to take-on the Highland Mary Lake Trail. As with Animas Forks, we had to access the trail-head on a 4-wheel drive road. (My poor husband). The woman at the Visitor's Center said we'd need to cross a creek toward the end. Well, we did go over a bridge that crossed a creek . . . but half a mile later, we realized she meant we'd need to literally cross a low-water creek. And my husband wasn't willing to do this.


Two in our party decided to cross the creek on foot. But my husband thought we could blaze our own trail and find a better place to cross. Now, in case you're unaware, the mountain streams were gushing with water, and those pretty little boulders and rocks were slick little devils. 

So, we braved our own trail and hiked upward until we managed to find a place to cross the creek . . . only to realize that we would need to cross the creek again to access the trail-head. Can you tell I'm a bit miffed at this point, with my rugged, adventuresome husband as well as at myself for not following my oldest daughter and son-in-law at the beginning???


We managed to hike to the second stream-head, but still no safe crossing. We can see the other members of our group above us on the trail, waving and wondering what we're going to do. So, what do I do? I take it upon myself to find a place to cross. I placed my foot on what I thought was a safe boulder. And remember thinking, Oh no! I'm going to fall in!


And then I remember thinking:
Oh no! It's really cold!
And then:
Oh no! It's really deep!

I fell into a deep hole in the stream, covered by water up to my neck. And thankfully, my husband was right there to pull me out.


Suffice it to say, when my legs were no longer wet, shaking, noodles we trecked back the way we came, back to our truck, and called it a day. So much for seeing the sites at Highland Mary Lake. There's always next time. And next time, I'm bringing trash sacks to put over my boots!
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