The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

Gem Lake

Monday, May 6th, 2013 in Colorado
Gem Lake 1

Since today was only our second full day in Estes Park and we were still exhausted from our busy schedules leading up to this vacation, we set low expectations for ourselves. From the outset, our pace was slowed by the thin air. Every action required a bit more energy than we had at our disposal. We awoke late, ate breakfast, and surfed the web for several hours. We downed a couple of buckets of tea and organized our gear in preparation for an easy hike.

Before we knew it, it was noon and there was no sense leaving for our hike until after we ate something. We made a couple of sandwiches, chopped up some fresh fruit and brewed some more tea. Finally, around one o’clock, we gathered our gear and set off for the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead.

A mountain cottontail (Sylvilagus nuttallii) sitting quietly in the shadow of a large boulder.

We arrived under mostly cloudy skies but the weather improved quickly. The sun poked through the clouds frequently enough to keep us warm despite cool gusts of air that swept down the ridge. We followed the trail as it branched to the left towards Twin Owls. Not long after we started walking, I stopped to admire a huge boulder that towered over the edge of the trail. After gazing at it for a good thirty seconds, I realized that a moutain cottontail was sitting motionless and very well camouflaged at its base.

We continued around the short loop past the Twin Owls rock formation and then turned upwards along the path to Gem Lake. It took us the better part of an hour to make our way up the remaining 900 feet of the climb to the lake. The last part of the hike was difficult in places where snow had yet to melt. We stayed up at the lake for twenty minutes but we started to get cold so headed back down before we started to shiver.

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