Contact: Rich Kurz Page content last updated 10/14/2011
This was a simple two night backpack into the southern end of the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Jasper Lake is just below a mountain peak with a feature called "Devil's Thumb".
We decided that the Devil's Thumb was a peak just behind the one visible from our campsite.
Our first campsite reservations were made for mid-July, but the cool wet year forced their cancellation.
Finally, the park service allowed reservations for mid-August.
Our party of six left the Hessie trailhead just above the little mountain village of Eldora at about 9 a.m. I had borrowed an external frame backpack while everyone else had internal models. So every once and a while along the trail, my tall pack would catch on brush and branches and pull me backwards. I will switch for the next excursion. The weather was overcast and threatening. It held off but for some brief sprinkles, but of course the wind built up as we moved higher. The trail itself was based on an old access trail, but was now rather bouldery. That made it a challenge for my feet in my new hiking boots. They were rubbing on the heels and very pressure sensitive on the ankle bones.
We reached Jasper Lake after about five miles around noon and chose our campsite. One does not reserve a particular campsite - just the right to camp in designated areas. We chose the southeast corner just above the lake but behind a wall of trees. That was a good choice. We were protected from the wind, but the roaring all night would wake one up. But by morning, it had nearly died away.
I am an early riser so I got up to catch the sunrise on the surrounding mountains.
Sure enough the color did a fade-in from the top of the peaks and side-illuminated the mountainsides.
The camera intensified the color, but it shows the effect.
Alas, I could not convince anyone else to get up to watch the show, too.
Today we would hike over the far ridge, which is the Continental Divide, and see the west side of the Wilderness. The hike was relatively easy, and the perfunctory field of flowers were encountered. But as I began the climb above tree line, my feet complained too much about my new shoes. I handed off the camera and told them I would wait below. It was sunny, but still breezy, and without brush protection, it was a chilly wait. Two came down. The others had decided to hike the peaks. We rested at camp until their return.
The rest of the afternoon was passed at the lake, either watching the fishing or chatting or looking over the wildflowers. Our two anglers practice catch and release. They caught mostly small lake trout. The flowers were bright and abundant, but I cannot tell you their names. I am still working on learning birds. Supper was pleasant and bedtime was at dark.
I caught the sunrise the next morning. It was nearly a duplicate of the day before for spectacle. It was very chilly and I was fully layered. We waited for the sun to touch the campsite before packing, and then we headed back down. We all agreed that this was a great little lake and campsite for its mountain beauty, and within easy hiking. Give it a try!
A traditional composition, but the lake makes it easy to compose
Sunrise about 6:30 a.m.
Our camp site, with the lake to my back
A pleasant meadow on the way to the pass
A fishing point on the right
Close-ups of flowers
Sunset on the first day - wind blowing and clouds scutting
Morning light thru the trees
Now THIS is hiking!
We determined the Devil's Thumb formation was the peak just behind this one...
which would make it the left half of this formation.
Man's profile imitates cliff. I cannot decide if the cliff resembles Nixon, Mao Tse-Tung, or Elmer Fudd. Let me know your vote (you can write in your own candidate).
(LEFT) One of those wonderful sunrises from above our camp
(RIGHT) Morning view of the lake
360 degree panorama just before the climb up to the pass (north is just left of Devil's Thumb)
360 degree panorama a little higher up (center is north)
1st pair: Columbine - side view
2nd pair: ground cover in the woods - nice 3D effect