Another beautiful weekend has come and gone… After driving up Trail Ridge Road to the Alpine Center, we opted for a quick side adventure into the Never Summer Wilderness via Rocky Mountain National Park. We started on the Bowen Baker Gulch trail head and continued west on the Baker Gulch Trail. We stopped at a small mountain stream before crossing into the Never Summer Wilderness.
We continued our trek until it was determined that the trail was becoming a bit broken up and muddy as there is still plenty of snow above 10,000 feet contributing to the less than desirable conditions. The winter run off should continue well into June. This was a 2.3 mile out and back scouting mission, as we will hike the trail up to the Continental Divide later in the summer.
On Sunday you could not have asked for a better day to be out on the water. We launched “The Big Mango” and headed out onto Shadow Mountain Lake and into the channel separating Grand Lake from Shadow Mountain Lake. Typically Shadow Mountain Lake flows into Grand Lake; however, due the aforementioned winter run off, the flow has been reversed.
As we paddled Grand Lake it is hard not to be enamored by the beauty of one’s surroundings. Paddling east, you are looking squarely at Mount Baldy (Technically Mount Craig). I often wonder which climbing route would allow for the quickest ascent to it’s peak at just over 12,000 feet. Shadow Mountain forms the shoreline on southern end of the lake and the Town of Grand Lake borders the Northern shores. The lake is dotted by rustic mountain log cabins to modern and somewhat out of place lake dwellings.
We continued west and back into the channel and Shadow Mountain Lake. Typically we paddle along the Eastern shore of the lake, but this time headed west. From here, you are able to look down range into the Indian Peaks range to the Southeast. The Colorado River empties into Shadow Mountain from it headwaters in the Kawuneeche Valley inside of Rocky Mountain National Park. At the Southern end of the lake, you come upon an Osprey breeding habitat. These magnificent raptors patrol the shorelines as their young are perched high top in the pines waiting for their next meal.
We made our way through a few of the islands before heading North and back to the launch site. We were just about to enter the small inlet to the shore when a large bull moose wanders directly in front of our path. Though the water may have only been a foot or so deep the moose made it seems as if it traversed a small puddle. We paddled about 10.5 wonderful miles.
Meanwhile, back at Base Camp, we were enjoying a late lunch when we heard crunching sounds. Suddenly, a large bull moose emerged from the willows about ten feet from us. We quickly put Aspen in the camper so as to not provoke an unwarranted encounter with the moose. I quickly grabbed my camera to snap a few pictures. You can see the moose and other photos from this weekend under the photos tab.