This hike (7 miles round trip, 2,430ft elevation gain) visits two beautiful lake basins, traverses through meadows full of wildflowers, and passes numerous waterfalls along the way.
It was sunny and warm when we started. Half-an-hour later clouds moved in, and it started raining. As we were still hiking up, the rain turned to sleet. Soon the ground was covered by ice pellets.
Both of us were prepared. But even with a wool hat, gloves, jacket, and raincoat, I was freezing cold by the time we reached Ice Lake. Dark clouds hovered above us. Loud thunders boomed around us. We didn’t have any luxury to enjoy the gorgeous lake before heading back. I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture of the lake for fear of ruining my camera.
Half way down the mountain the rain and the sleet stopped. A ray of sunlight peeked through the clouds and lit up the dramatic peaks around the area. What a nice way to conclude the San Juan Mountains adventure!
Thank you, David!
Today’s hike turned out to be easier than that of the first day. I still huffed and puffed, and we made it to 12,800ft, but the slope seemed less steep and I didn’t stop “every 30 seconds” as David joked. The view from the top was equally breathtaking, and the experience was no less memorable.
Perched at 11,600ft, the OPUS Hut is an eco-friendly, European style lodge. In the summer, one can drive to within ¼ mile of the hut, but in the winter, the road is closed, and one has to take a 3.5-mile hike to reach it. Breakfast, afternoon soup, and dinner are provided to the guests.
It has solar powered lighting and running water collected from the rain. There are indoor composting toilets, but no shower. A sauna room with a bucket of hot water is a refreshing way to clean up after a sweaty hike.
We indeed took a sweaty hike (5.5 hours). As an experienced rock climber and ice climber, David is like a mountain goat. Although I’m a pretty good hiker, I huffed and puffed and felt my lungs were going to explode at the high altitude (11,000ft-13,000ft). The view from the top was breathtaking. I was so glad he encouraged me to keep going until it was time to get down. 🙂
The slope was so steep that I simply couldn’t handle it. We had to find a longer, but less scary way for me. And even so, I had to hold his hand in a death grip when we inched across a crumbling ledge hundreds of feet above ground and when we stumbled downhill, racing against the threat of rain. Thunders boomed all around us by then, and drops of rain indeed fell on us. Luckily the heavy downpour held off until we returned to the Hut. If we were five minutes late, we would be drenched. The afternoon soup tasted heavenly.
Sitting amongst the craggy summits, the Hut is a remarkable place to visit. And the adventure I experienced with David will be one of the fondest memories in my life.
The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Phoenix, central Arizona. Founded by the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society in 1937, the garden has more than 21,000 plants. It’s a great time to visit before it gets too hot.
Last year, my friend and I went to California to look for wildflowers. Look what we have here in Sedona this year!
Although it is end of wildflower season, we’ve seen some gorgeous blooms. If you love wildflowers, Colorado is a great place to visit in the summer.
Just minutes from downtown Steamboat, wilderness comes to life with a splash at Fish Creek Falls. Clear and fresh alpine water roars down the canyon, spilling over the 280-ft falls which can be seen with a short walk.
We took the longer hike to the Upper Fish Creek Falls and continued to a large meadow deep in the Routt National Forest. Colorful leaves and the tail end of wildflowers dotted along the trail. I kept wondering how brilliant it must be when all the flowers were in full bloom.
PS. The sign says it is 5 miles to Long Lake. We hiked more than 5 miles and we were told by several locals that the sign isn’t right. It is another hour to the lake so we decided to turn back.