One of the reasons I chose to stay in the south west Colorado is because of San Juan National Forest. I had never been here before, but from what I have learned, there are hundreds of miles of trails in the forest. No doubt, some of them would be really pretty.
Yes, they would be, if they are open for hiking! Most of the trails in the area are still closed because of the snow on the trail. Luckily, one area (William Creek Reservoir) just opened up. I was so happy it is so close (only 25 miles). I didn’t have to drive a long distance, for a change! I have been driving out of town for the past few days.
A twisty, windy gravel road leads to a beautiful blue lake surrounded by mountain peaks (4/24/13). It was a little after 9 when I got there. Nobody except a big cleanup truck was there clearing the road. The young man in the truck stopped and asked kindly what I would like to do. “I just want to hike around the lake” I said. So he pointed a parking area and told me a trail to take. I thanked him and then we parted our ways.
I hiked around the lake. It was so peaceful and quiet over there. Although the temperature was just above freezing, with sun shone brightly, it wasn’t too cold. Half way around the lake, I sat down on a piece of rock drinking some water and taking a little snack. The scenery was breathtaking. Sitting by the side of a blue lake in front of several mountain peaks (some snow-capped) was incredibly nice. The lyric of a song similar to something like “there is no place I would rather be” came to my mind. Isn’t it so true for that moment? There isn’t any place I would rather be!
Well, even though I would rather stay there forever, I still had to keep moving. I have always wanted to see more. 🙂 Perhaps the next scenery is equally as good or even better.
Since the scenery around the lake seemed similar after awhile, I decided to take a different trail. The description for “William Creek” trail seemed interesting. However, the road toward the trailhead is still closed. I was told yesterday at the Visitor Center that it is ok to hike on the road to trailheads. So I decided to walk on the road. After all, the scenery along the road seemed beautiful enough. I had no idea, though, how far away was the trailhead. No matter how long it is, I have made up my mind that I would turn back in two and a half hours, whether I would find the trail or not. In this way, I would only hike additional five hours.
Hiking in an area without anyone was wonderful and a little scary at the same time. I loved the quietness. Surrounded by just nature without any man-made stuff was very soothing. However, being there alone and knowing the bears are out from hibernation was a little worrisome. “No need to worry about the bear. They run away from you faster than you run away from them” The young man driving the cleanup truck assumed me when I asked him before. It was comforting to know that the locals are not worried about the beast that much.
In a couple of hours, I reached the trailhead. Not long after I hiked the trail, I had to turn back. There were still quite a lot of snows on the trail. Walking alone on a nice gravel road with good visibility was already a little tense for me; hiking in the dense woods with lots of snow on the trail and without seeing the environment too well was a “no-no”. Besides, even on the road, I had noticed a lot of foot prints, even though I couldn’t tell what kinds of animals they were. It was definite time for me to go back!
Not long after I turned back, I saw a dog-sized animal running across the road. My immediate reaction was, not taking the picture, but taking out the bear spay I carried with me in the side pocket of my backpack! It was a coyote and it ran as quickly as he could away from me, just as the young man described.
I felt silly for I was so jumpy. A year ago I have also seen a coyote in Banff National Park in Canada. My immediate reaction there was to take my camera and took some pictures. Of course, at the time, my car was by my side. I felt protected and safe by having my car with me. Now, here, all alone, without a car to protect me, and as I was already very alert, I reacted in a totally different way. I am glad the animal didn’t try to attack me; otherwise he would get sprayed on. 🙂
As I walked close to the lake, the cleanup truck drove slowly up the hill. The same handsome young man I talked to before was sitting high up in the truck. He stopped, surprised to see me walking down the road. “I thought you were a hunter!”
We started talking again, this time for much longer, about animals, hunting, travel, weather etc. I learned that he is the fifth generations living in this area! “I am about to move, though. It is too cold here.” “Where are you going to move to?” I was curious. “Arizona, somewhere warm”. I thought people living in areas like this really enjoyed the cold weather. I guess I was wrong.
When he heard I was on my way to Alaska, he commented that it seemed a lot of fun and he might consider doing that one day. Wouldn’t it be great, if someone do take a similar trip as mine, after hearing my story?
It is wonderful meeting a friendly person in wilderness; it is amazing seeing him again, twice in a day, without seeing anyone else! “There is no place I would rather be” – I remember the song again. Perhaps, there is a place, not only has a blue lake and tall mountain peaks, but also has a nice, friendly and handsome man. That certainly would be the place I would rather be in the whole wild world. 🙂
PS. my photo website: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/qing-yang.html