Another beautiful weekend has come and gone… After driving up Trail Ridge Road to the Alpine Center we opted for 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 lease than desirable conditions, The winter run off should continue well into June. We will call this 2.3 mile out and back a scouting mission as we will hike the trail up to the Continental Divide later in the summer.
Paddle day on Sunday and you could not have asked for a better day as we set out in the “Big Mango” our tandem kayak. We left the launch site on Shadow Mountain Lake and headed 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 would paddle along the Eastern shore of the lake however we headed to the Western shore. 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. Paddling toward several islands dotting the Southern end of the lake and hiding the dam preventing the waters of the Colorado River from freely flowing Southwest into he Gulf of California you come upon an Osprey breeding habitat. These magnificent raptors will 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. As we are just about to enter the small inlet separating our exit back onto terra firma 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. Waiting for a few moments for the moose to clear out we debated whether or not to finished our journey by circumnavigating the island or continuing to shore. Today’s paddle was just shy of 10 1/2 miles.
Mean while back at Base Camp enjoying a late afternoon lunch we encountered another bull moose. Sitting there we heard what seemed to be a few twigs/branches falling from the nearby pine trees but no, out from behind the willows emerges a relatively large bull moose. Less than 10ft from where we were sitting. Quickly we moved Aspen inside so not to provoke an unwarranted encounter 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.