July 4th Holiday Weekend

Lake Granby looking towards the Indian Peaks Range

Saturday’s kayaking adventure was our first paddle on Lake Granby. What a beautiful day to be outdoors, a bit deceptive but nonetheless a beautiful day. We started our paddle launching from the Rainbow Bay Picnic Site located just of off County Road 6 which leads to the Monarch Lake trailhead. Our unstated goal was to paddle to the Arapaho Bay Campground. By vehicle via the way of County Road 6 this would be a 10 mile drive, so again our goal was unstated. We paddle into Rainbow Bay making our way towards Sunset Point and Arapaho Bay. Navigating our way around the point Granby Dam comes into view, this dam holds back the natural flow of the Colorado River. The dam itself was created in 1950 and technically pumps water into Shadow Mountain Lake to the North. Passing near the dam we feel the undercurrent pulling us gently in the direction of the spillway to the west however the surface winds are pushing us to the North, a strange sensation to say the least. One can only imagine what this may have looked like prior to the dams and diversions undertaken to supply water to the parched cities along the Front Range of Colorado. Continuing our paddle towards Kamloop Cove, looking West over the earthen dam or Dike #3 the Colorado River comes back into view as it begins its journey Southwest towards Utah and the Gulf of California. Paddling along the southern shoreline we happen upon Inspiration Point, maybe its aptly named as such, for once you make your way around the point you are ever closer to Arapaho Bay or is it the view from atop and the Indian Peaks Range as seen in the photo above. After maneuvering about a few of the islands dotted along our route we choose to beach the “Big Mango”. At this point, using our best judgement, we determine the we are about 2 miles from the entrance to the Arapaho Bay as we have paddled 7 plus miles. It is very difficult to judge distance on open water due to the lack depth perception needed to gauge distance from point to point. We determined that at our current pace it would be about another hour to make the campground and with Aspen back at Base Camp we decided to head back to Rainbow Bay. Remember, I foreshadowed at the beginning, it was a beautiful day but a bit deceptive. Thus the rational to my prose, the winds on Lake Granby are constantly changing throughout the day or literally by the minute. Contributing factors are likely the mountains to the North and East and the valleys to the West. Our paddle back was into a stiff headwind that was there one moment and gone the next, this continued until we reached Sunset Point, finally a respite from the winds. Nearing our launch site we couldn’t help but notice a little drama taking place at the boat launch. Apparently, and she was making it very clear, that she did not want to be on the water our for that matter in the mountains, while the theatrics carried on there was a budding queue taking place for those waiting to make their way onshore. After paddling for 13.24 miles and just over 4 1/2 hours we were safely back on terra firma, another awesome day on the water in the books. Though we not make our unstated goal, this adventure will eventually work its way into a training paddle for a far larger expedition that will take place in the future as we look to paddle the Palisades Reservoir along the Idaho and Wyoming border. This reservoir has approximately 70 miles of shoreline and goal is to complete the paddle in 3 days. The paddle on Lake Granby from Stillwater to Arapaho Bay would be about 20 miles thus simulating one days paddle on the Palisades Reservoir. Stay tuned.

Returning to Base Camp and relieving Aspen of her guard duties I took to the gravity chair outside to relax in the cool breeze, out of the sight of the sun. I was nearly about to doze off and catch some zzz’s before I was interrupted by a familiar sound of willow branches breaking beneath the feet of a large four legged animal. IMG_1028With curiosity getting the best of me, I investigate and sure enough there was a female moose within 10 feet of the back of our trailer. Moving inside to grab my camera and alerting Stella to our guest I snuck back outside to take a few pictures. The moose now less than 10 feet away and to the side of our trailer continued to feast on the abundance of willows for her evening meal before sauntering into the brush out of sight. An adult moose will typically eat on average 70 plus pounds per day with their diet mainly consisting of willow shoots and aquatic vegetation.

Sunday was a day of rest except for Aspen, she once again took to the water for a swim for the second day in a row. For Aspen, it was 2 days of uninterrupted retrieving of her yellow water ball which could have continued unabated for hours, if it were not for the passing of a kayak, paddle board  or canoe.

Racking up our bikes on Monday we headed into Fraser to bike the Fraser River Trail. Parking at the trailhead near Safeway and donning our helmets we were off. The trail is segmented into 3 distinct sections. As we head towards Winter Park the trial is a mix of single track and two track weaving along the Fraser River moving in and out of several fishing ponds before turning to pavement as we make our way into town. The trail continues through the heart of Winter Park on a shared sidewalk before heading  south into the Arapaho National Forest and back down to the river. IMG_4347The trail interlaces through a series of campsites before heading under U.S. Hwy 34 and Winter Park Village, the southern terminus of the trail. This is an out and back ride just shy of 12 miles with an elevation gain of 481 feet. The out portion of the ride is all up hill meaning that the return trip is all down hill and an easy peddle back to our awaiting Tahoe. On our way back we stopped in Winter Park at the skate park where we watched in awe of a little dude no more than 6 years old shredding it on his scooter complete with 360’s and stop & drops. Gnarly little dude, gnarly.

July 4th, happy Independence Day America! Aspen began the day by celebrating her independence with another swim, 3 of the 4 days she was able to swim to her hearts content. After returning to Base Camp we head back to launch the “Big Mango” into Shadow Mountain Lake. We immediately head in the direction of the channel to make our way into Grand Lake. Par for the course, the passage is backed up with boats attempting to pass between the lakes, we queue up directly behind the boat in front of us and make a break for it once it makes its move. Turning to the right we paddle Grand Lake in our typical counter clockwise direction. As mentioned previously this paddle will never get old. Paddling our way around the lake we eventually find ourselves on the western shore, relishing in the sun and drifting aimlessly, whilst daydreaming of owning a piece of shoreline property. Someday, someday… We begin our paddle back into the channel and Shadow Mountain Lake. Instead of heading to the launch site we continue along the Northeastern shore of the lake but decide to turn back as the winds, waves and sky indicate it is time to move to drier grounds.

What a fantastic four days, in total we paddled and peddled 30.2 miles, swam Aspen on three separate occasions, came within feet of a female moose and once again escaped the craziness of the city.


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