Sunday, September 3rd, we headed to Monarch Lake to hike the loop with Aspen. We got off to an early start hoping to beat the crowds and thankfully we did, more about this at the end. From the trailhead we trekked southeast along the northern shoreline. This by far is Stella’s favorite hike. After arriving at Aspen’s first of several swimming holes, Buchanan Creek, she immediately took to the water and was not wanting to get back onto the trail. This is where it becomes a bit interesting, there are two entry points into the water separated by a tree leaning out into the creek. She was going between the two sides with me in tow and in an effort to get here back on the trail I grabbed the tree with my left hand, which coincidently also was holding her leash. At the exact moment I was grabbing the tree she heads back out into the water and down I go for a swim. Wet, a small laceration to the wrist and a few bumps and bruises we were on our way with my slightly mangled pride in tow. Crossing the bridge over Buchanan Creek further up the trail we forge on to Arapaho Creek where once again Aspen will get to swim, however this time there is no chance of me falling into the creek, easy in and easy out. After Aspen wet her whistle we were off to her last swimming hole, however prior to our arrival we ran into a forest service ranger. He thanked us for having Aspen on a leash, which was not odd but there have been many a time hiking the Monarch Lake loop where we have come upon an unleashed dog. USFS states you are required to have your dog on a leash and it is clearly noted at the trailhead, but more importantly, especially this time of year, it is for the safety and welfare of your dog as moose view them as a threat. Moose frequent Monarch Lake as the southern shoreline is littered with willows, a food source high up on their forging list. Last winter while snowshoeing at Monarch Lake we were caught behind a moose heading back to the trailhead. Compounding the matter she was with her calf and we had Aspen. Thankfully we were able to maintain a safe distance without the moose turning about to investigate. Back on task, we hike down to the shore of the lake to swim Aspen one last time before making the final trek back to the Tahoe. We happened upon to ladies fishing from the shoreline and asking, “have you caught anything today” her reply was no, but she mentioned they caught a Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout and a German Brown Trout on Saturday, in which she further mentioned could have fed all three back at camp. I attempted to ascertain her cell phone number hinting slightly for an invite to dinner but I was unsuccessful in my endeavor. With Aspen back on shore we head back up to the trail and onto the trailhead. Arriving back at our starting point we notice a myriad of activities taking place from fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking and picnics. Which made me wonder just how many cars are parked along the road from the trailhead, as we drive out it had to easily be a 1/2 mile or so of vehicles lining the roadside, unreal and thankfully we arrived early.
On the return trip to Grand Lake we stopped at Shadow Mountain Lake to let Aspen swim at bit more. She knows that is her goto swimming hole and she was chomping at the bit to get in the water once more. Spending about a half hour and letting her retrieve her yellow ball it was time to head back to Base Camp. Our intention was to paddle Grand Lake after a quick lunch but suddenly the afternoon got away and turned to a lazy Sunday afternoon.