Indian Peaks Wilderness, CO
Distance: 5.1 miles
Traveled: Mitchell Lake Trailhead to Blue Lake
“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.”
? Mae West
My husband, Michael, went on a hike with me. Pigs may be flying.
And I think he actually enjoyed himself enough to potentially consider maybe perhaps doing it again sometime one day!
Yes, Michael does not share my unquenchable thirst for walking up mountains – and I’m totally cool with that. He loves being in the mountains and exploring backcountry roads…just not trudging around on trails. In fact the first present I ever bought for him when we first started dating about 10 years ago was this magnet (he actually likes camping, just not having to walk to it):
Though I would love to be able to share with him the beautiful places I have seen, and my magical wilderness experiences, I totally respect why it’s not his cup of tea. The most important thing to me is that he totally supports me and my ridiculous adventures – he’s my #1 cheerleader. And when I get home, he’s excited to hear about all of it. Also, I’m an incredibly independent person (sometimes to a fault). I’ve never waited around for anyone to do anything with me – it’s just not how I’m wired. I like to wander alone. I really really like it. But, it would be undeniably awesome if he someday fell in love with walking up mountains with me.
So, this was a very important hike. Some might argue it was crucial, if not critical, that I pick the right trail. I had my eye on the Blue Lake for a while – it’s only 5 miles round trip, less than 1,000 ft of elevation gain, and from my experience hiking around that area, the scenery would likely not disappoint.
(It did NOT disappoint. Not. At. All.)
On the drive to the trailhead we saw a momma Moose and her baby lying near a river. I had never seen a female or baby moose before. So sweet.
The trail leaves out of Brainard Lake Recreation Area from the Mitchell Lake Trailhead. In my Rocky Mountain hiking experience thus-far, the trails out of Brainard Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, are all incredibly stunning. Some of the scenery in this area reminds me of the Sierras, and though the Sierras eternally hold my heart – Indian Peaks is quickly coming close to playing second…
Though monsoon season is now slowing down, afternoon thunderstorms are still enough of a threat that it’s better to get on the trail as early as possible. Also, the earlier you get on the trail, the more solitude you find.
We were on the trail at 7:30 and it didn’t take long to get ridiculously beautiful. We shortly made it to Mitchell Lake and wandered around the shore a bit.
Full views of Mt Audubon opened up, little ponds dotted the sides of the trail. The trees and grass were lush and green, wildflowers were still out in abundance.
The climb was gentle, and the trail was so, so, beautiful. So beautiful that it verged on being ridiculous at points. Every corner we rounded there was some new wondrously beautiful scene. I kept joking to Michael that this trail was as if Disneyland made a “Hiking Ride” and put all sorts of magically-fantastical mountain scenery along a trail. I assured him that not every hike was this beautiful. This was truly a special place to walk.
Once we came out above the tree line, the landscape transformed into one of the most pristine alpine landscapes I have ever seen. Cascades, and small streams winding past late-season snow fields and tundra dotted with meadows of wildflowers. Marmots chirping all around. I couldn’t have made this place up.
We explored some lingering late August snow, and stopped for a snack to take it all in. I could not have been happier that this was the hike that Michael went on with me. If there was a hiking experience that could get anyone hooked, this would be it.
Just another quarter mile up the trail was blue lake – I was in awe of it. I actually had not seen any photos that did any justice to how blue it was in-person, and how huge it is. When we got up to it, the wind started howling and the it actually became quite chilly – it looks much warmer in the photos than it actually was.
We found a boulder to sit behind at Blue Lake that sheltered us from the wind and sat there enjoying the view as long as we could – until the cold really started to get to us. Once we began to head down the wind calmed and we warmed up again. There were many more hikers one their way up as we were heading down – some complaining and asking the ever-popular “How much further?” question. In my opinion, this hike was not near long enough to warrant that question.
Michael seemed to actually enjoy himself – and it was really nice to spend time on the trail with him! I doubt becoming an avid-hiker is in the cards for him, but I may actually be able to convince him to join me every once in a while!