Hike: Ice Lakes
Trailhead: Ice Lakes Trailhead located at the South Mineral Creek Campground in Silverton, Colorado
Distance: 7 miles roundtrip
This weekend was one of those weekends. You know, one of those weekends you walk away from just knowing that it was a really special weekend. It sticks with you. The energy of that weekend hangs around in the weeks to follow. Every time you think about that weekend you can't help but smile and say "now, THAT was a good time". I have a few trips that stick out to me in such a way. The magic of Moab, the grandeur of Yosemite, the other worldliness of Yellowstone - and now the undeniable beauty of the San Juan Mountains.
We started the weekend off by road tripping it to Telluride and camping in the Uncompahgre National Forest just outside of town. We hadn't realized that the Telluride Film Festival was taking place until about 2 days before our trip. I was nervous about there being a surplus of people, swarming the streets and taking over all the available campsites. I could not have been more wrong - there were plenty of campsites to choose from. The most difficult part being: WHICH ONE? THEY ARE ALL SO BEAUTIFUL AND IDEAL.
So we found a spot and then went into town to watch the Husker football game. Again, I was worried that we wouldn't be able to find a bar with the game on. So silly of me - the first place we walked into had 2 open seats at the bar and gladly put the husker game on the massive flat screen right in front of us.
I was shocked, one of the biggest film festivals in the world was taking place and there was still about 1 million less people walking around then in the town of Estes on any given day.
The next day we got ready to hike to Ice Lakes in Silverton. We decided we would take "Ophir Pass" to get there. This pass is stunning and also terrifying. A good high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle is definitely needed. Once you've managed to survive driving across the pass it's just a short drive to the trailhead, which you will probably blow right past the first time around. Go ahead and turn around and park at the parking lot alongside the South Mineral Creek Campground. It's fine, we've all been there.
The weather on this hike was rainy, sunny, rainy, sunny, sunny, rainy, cloudy, sunny, cloudy - you get the picture. It was all over the place but that's what you get when you find yourself hiking at 12,000 ft in the beginning of September. The trail leads you to waterfalls, through forests, alongside creeks, across open space, and ultimately brings you to the breathtaking Ice Lake. This lake is so incredibly blue and the surrounding peaks are a stark contrast of bright green. It is unlike any alpine lake I have seen before (and I have hiked to many many alpine lakes).
The hike itself is 7 miles round trip with a 2.430 ft elevation gain. It's a difficult hike and might just leave you breathless - but in this case, that's a good thing.
Sidenote: We went into town after the hike to catch one of the free movies on the lawn at the film festival. We got a great spot on the lawn, found out we were watching the new movie Spotlight to be released in November, and Rachel McAdams introduced the film.
The San Juans man, the San freaking Juans.