Fourth of July Trailhead
Friday November 28, 2008
I was up and attem’ about 7:00AM and wanted to get out and “walk-off” the previous days feast (Thanksgiving). The weather was mostly cloudy with some blue spots as the sun rose and I made ready my daypack and was on the road through Boulder via Route 36, Baseline Rd, Broadway and then left up Boulder Canyon to Nederland. I rounded the rotary and headed towards Eldora ski area then beyond and all the way to 4th of July trailhead at the 4th of July campground in the Indians Peak Wilderness area. The dirt road was rutted & bumpy but completely passable all the way.
There were three other cars at the TH and nobody camping the clouds were stacked-up pretty heavy yet the sun could still be seen through the cover. I started up Arapaho Pass Trail at 9:35AM and had climbed a short distance when the clouds above began to relinquish their snow and before long it was snowing lightly but steady and it was plenty cold enough to allow for immediate accumulation. The trail was in good shape with only a few icy spots and I was soon at the junction where the trail breaks left for Diamond Lake. There was about a foot of fresh snow from the night before and it continued to snow rather heavily with light small flakes.
I was soon at a creek crossing on a solid wooden bridge and here I saw two guys cross-country skiing up the frozen creek bed as they appeared to be a bit lost. I asked where they were going and neither seemed to know where they were going or from whence they had come or where they were now………?? A bit unusual but to each their own I suppose. These would be the only people I would see all day. The trail was pretty well defined and I could see where others had snow-shoed through probably the day before. I climbed up out of the creek basin and up a series of switchbacks as I gained elevation with each step I took.
The forest is quite thick in this region and as I gained altitude I could see back down to where the trailhead was and also way across and where the trail continues up to Arapaho Pass. Although the snow was heavy I could still see the sun and visibility was a good ½ mile or more; pretty cool weather pattern and it made the hike very enjoyable and the temperature was perfect for my efforts and exhilaration. A few more short switchbacks and then the trail rounded a couple of turns and up over a rise to where a broad meadow appeared on level ground. I couldn’t see the lake but could see that the mountains ahead offered a spot where a lake would naturally form and thus I hiked directly across the meadow, over a couple of downed trees and there I found the lake right where it should be.
Diamond Lake was wind-blown, frozen solid and dusted with new snows; the sun above created a sparkly vision with the snows coming down and with the surrounding mountains offered a most beautiful picture. It was 11:00AM and I took a few photos and embraced the quiet beauty before me; all I could hear was a soft breeze from the west and the snow beating down through the tree branches above……………really nice! I removed my pack, hat and gloves and had a snack with a long drink and took some more photos. The icy breeze cooled things down rather quickly and I soon had my hat and gloves back on.
I stayed about 20 mins and then made good time back the way I came and arrived back at the TH at 12:23PM without seeing a single person the entire way. A nice way to spend the day and another beautiful day in Colorado……Sweet!