Living – Places: 19
Tenacity. I drive by this tree every day on way to and from work. It's a vibrant tree that leafs out with enthusiasm each spring year after year, despite having fallen over years ago. The main truck is horizontal and laying on the ground, but by now all of its branches have grown upward, forming a glorious crown, and its roots are like a myriad of trunks. Amazing.
The theme of today's hike was Whoa! We hiked in a new area for us, up from Bear Lake into high country, climbing up to Lake Helene before descending dramatically to Odessa Lake, and then Fern Lake, and finally down to the Fern Lake trailhead. We felt we were in another world up there, and feel so fortunate that we can spend a day in such an amazing place.
We were headed to Lake Helene, which at 10,600' is just beyond the high point of the hike of 10,697', as high as we've been when we've been hiking. That also means there is a 1,200' gain from Bear Lake, and then a 2,500' descent to the Fern Lake trailhead going past Odessa and Fern lakes. So we were facing unfamiliar territory, heading higher than we've been, and looking at more ascent and descent than we normally do. I was feeling exhilarated and just a bit frightened as we made the turn onto the trail and started climbing!
As we climbed up the ridge above Bear Lake, we began getting some beautiful views to the north.
One of the next views revealed Bierstadt Lake.
There was an abundance of wildflowers, including Jacob's Ladder.
More climbing and we began to see sub-alpine meadows.
A large field of snow covered the trail in this area. When we saw how much snow there still was in mid-July, we understood how creeks and rivers continue to flow all summer long.
There were a lot of Globe Flowers in the meadows.
As we continued to climb, we began to cross large scree fields.
Garima hiking across a scree field.
As we climbed higher still, we began to see small, unnamed glacial-melt ponds.
Our first view of 12,129' Notchtop Mountain. Lake Helene is just at the foot of Notchtop.
A second glacial-melt pond.
Another pond. Twin Rivers Lake is downhill beyond this pond.
The beautiful and unusually colored Dusky Penstemon were out in abundance.
I love old, twisted and gnarled stumps; they have so much character.
A second glimpse of Notchtop Mountain. We're getting closer! The entire mountainside beneath the main glacier is flowing with thin waterfalls. The music of it is glorious!
Our first glimpse of Lake Helene, as we're rock hopping across the outlet. I think that's Ptarmigan Point beyond.
Looking downstream at the Lake Helene outlet, which I think is the source of Fern Creek.
Enjoying a break at Lake Helene.
A view across Lake Helene at the glacier just beyond it on the steep side of Ptarmigan Point.
Back on the trail, now steeply downhill, heading towards Odessa Lake.
Our first glimpse of Odessa Lake.
The trail descends steeply through some dramatic scree fields. You can just see Garima ahead under that enormous boulder jutting above the trail.
Looking up at a screen field flowing down towards us.
Looking back up valley towards Notchtop and Knobtop Mountains.
A Potentilla flower.
After hiking down the steep hillside to a point beyond Odessa Lake, we turned around and began hiking up the creek towards the lake.
A view of the creek where we crossed it as we near Odessa Lake.
Tall Chiming Bells line the creekside.
As we began hiking down from Odessa Lake, we followed Fern Creek as it tumbled down towards Fern Lake.
The trail down towards Fern Lake remained steep and spectacular, though now we were deeper into pine forest.
Our first glimpse of Fern lake through the forest.
A beautiful trailside boulder.
Rosy Paintbrush flowers.
Brook Saxifrage growing alongside a tiny trickle of water coming directly out of moss-covered opening in the base of a boulder.
A vivid trio of Rocky Mountain Columbine flowers, which were abundant in this part of the forest.
Another view of Fern Lake, this time across a rough scree field.