Undiscovered Wonder: Summer 2015

muir_mountain

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Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
I really, really debated about posting this TR. I wanted to share my wonderful backpacking experience, but I also didn't want anyone finding out about this place. I'm going here again this summer, and much of the appeal is nearly guaranteed solitude... So what to do??

I came up with a compromise. This is going to be different from any other trip report on here, in that I'm not going to mention any landmarks or surrounding areas. This TR is just going to be about the beautiful pictures and spending quality solo time in the mountains; no geographical locations or waypoints to get caught up in. I'm hoping this will inspire you to search out the path less-trodden--For that is where, perhaps, the most beautiful places lie waiting.

It is my opinion that those of you who are interested and really search to find this place truly deserve to go here. It is my hope that you would respect the area and also keep quiet so that others may "discover" it. I hope you can understand that I don't want this area to become the next popular family backpacking destination...

The upper lake is approximately a dozen miles from the "trailhead." The trail ascends from the valley up a ways, where the views really open up. Fantastic country! I was extremely happy to finally be at the place I had been dreaming about the previous winter. I had no idea what to expect, because there were no pictures online of the area; I'm obviously not the only one trying to keep this secret! The weather was perfect; mid-70's with a slight breeze.
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There is another lake about half-way up that makes a great place to have a rest and eat lunch. It's a nice payoff for the hard work of the previous 6+ miles, but the real rewards are yet to come.
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And yet another beautiful pond in the valley above. I felt fortunate to get a semi-decent reflection shot. Pictures can't capture how pristine and stunning this place is. Although there were a few mosquitoes, repellant wasn't required.
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The rest of the hike was fairly uneventful until I reached my ultimate destination: the upper lake. And boy, was I in for a surprise! I've been to many, many stunning lakes since moving to Colorado a few years ago, but nothing prepared me for this. See, the whole time, I was just imagining how stunning this would be, just based off the rough mountain outline of Google Earth. I was only running off of a single, obscure mention in one of my guidebooks. The book said (paraphrased) that it was a hidden and undiscovered spectacle. I was thankful that so little info was available so I could "discover" it myself.
Now, you may ask, why am I posting all these pictures? Wouldn't I want others to experience it in the same way?
Yes, I do. These pictures are absolutely nothing compared to visiting this place, and I guarantee seeing this won't "spoil" any sense of amazement. And besides, I can't stop myself from NOT sharing this with you. :)

This is my campsite at the lake.
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Just me and my little 1-person REI quarter dome (wonderful tent, btw). The night was pretty peaceful, and it surprised me how soothing the white noise of the nearby waterfall was. The next day, without a doubt, was my most enlightening and absolutely sublime day in the mountains of my entire life. :cool:
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Imagine waking up to this ^^^. And knowing you have it all to yourself!

"The perfect day to just relax and read a fine book!" I thought. I brought with me The Noticer, a book by Andy Andrews. At the time, I knew nothing about it or the author, only that it was highly recommended to me by my mother. Usually I rebel and don't take her suggestions (lol), but she insisted. And I'm very glad she did.

The Noticer is a fictional story about an old man named Jones who helps people see the true nature of things and of themselves. He is sort of an angel on earth, and over the course of the short book, it alludes to him having supernatural powers, yet doesn't explicitly say so. Jones's history is unknown to the people of his community, but he has a knack for meeting people in difficult personal times (in one case, even close to suicide), and sort of mentoring them to see the beauty of this world. The book is from the viewpoint of a handful of people in the town, and their meetings with the wise old man Jones become the positive turning point in all their lives. "Perspective," Jones called it. All we need is a little perspective to see the true beauty we all live in.
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As a sat in my camp chair on the lakeside, I couldn't help but feel that my perspective had changed. All my worries melted away. All that mattered was what was real, and that was the most beautiful valley and lake I had ever set eyes on. All that stuff at home? My job? IT DIDN'T MATTER. All that mattered was the current moment. The deep blue water of the lake, the yellow sandy shore glinting like gold, the greenery, the dozens of types of flowers, the dozens of species of critters and mammals, and finally the towering mountains of rock to support it all--it coexisted so beautifully, like how a myriad of precise gears and levers form a watch. Time in the mountains is only told by the movement of the creatures, the blooming and wilting of flowers, the movement of clouds, the gentle ripples or placid calm of a deep blue lake... The mountains themselves are the watch frame; they sit tall, watchful and silent, while all the inner moving parts are bound to them. I believe this is why the mountains are such a vital retreat for us. We are able to slow down to the beat and rhythm of nature, not the speedy artificial timekeeper of society. By the time I finished the book about 3-4 hours later, I felt healed in more ways than one.

That afternoon, I decided to explore the valley a little bit. I went up to the waterfall that aided in my previous night's sleep.
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At the base of it, there is a really neat "cave" area, where the cascades fall into a small, rocky pool. It was a fantastic spot to cool off on that hot day.
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Still tired from the previous day's journey, I went back to camp to rest and wait for sunset. And what a sunset it was!
Due to the serene calm of the water, I was able to capture the best sunset photos I've ever taken.
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The next morning, I decided to hike out earlier than I expected. I just felt I had my fill of the mountains... I wish I would have stayed to explore the higher mountains above the lake, but I guess that gave me a good reason to come back this year! I definitely feel I have a much bigger cup to fill this summer. :)

To top it all off, I saw a gorgeous rainbow on the drive home, ending right on the horizon at road's end. It really sounds cliche, but I definitely felt I was traveling towards a pot of gold! It was a scene straight out of a fairy tale. However, my perspective changed on this trip. I knew I was actually leaving home, and that I wouldn't truly be living until I was back in the mountains again. It was a sign--a covenant--that I would return someday.
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"Home is where the heart lies."
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
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Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
2,413
Thanks for sharing this. That looks like a beautiful place. I can't wait to get back to the high alpine areas this Summer.
 

WasatchWill

Ready For More
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Jul 23, 2013
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I'm totally on board with the "vague" philosophy for places like this. As you say, if people are willing to do their homework and really take the time to scan maps and resources like Google Earth, then they too can find remote places and deserve to discover these solitary jewels, assuming they're committed to LNT ethics. In fact, a big adventure in itself for me, if I see pics and read about places like this with such vague detail, is doing all the detective work it can take to just find out where the place is and how to get there. Anyway, while I can't speak for all the lurkers, I think the rest of us really enjoy the eye candy, that is, the pictures, the most. Good narration and storytelling is just icing on that cake, whether location details are given or not.
 

muir_mountain

Wilderness Seeker
Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
Thanks for the reply @WasatchWill
You are absolutely right. I know a handful of members here know where this is, so they must agree with me!

This lake is definitely worth seeking out...
 

JoshuaDyal

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2015
Messages
186
There was a trip report last fall that included this place, among others in the same range. Given the nature of that range, I don't think telling people where it is is likely to change the fact that it's going to be sparsely hiked to.
 

muir_mountain

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Apr 16, 2016
Messages
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@JoshuaDyal I have to respectfully disagree. It's right next to other popular ranges, and others actually try to keep this place a secret. People WILL go a little out of their way to a spectacular place; that is, if they know about it and have a hint at what's back there.
One mention in a guidebook was all it took for me to go there. I spent my limited time at this lake over the surrounding ranges... why? Because of its perceived solitude. And I wasn't disappointed. Don't underestimate how many backpackers are willing to get to the "next best solitude-filled destination." There are so precious few places left like this, I hope you can understand.
 

swmalone

Member
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Apr 27, 2016
Messages
378
Great report and I don't blame you for not giving exact details of where you were. Several years ago my wife and I could spend mid to late May in some areas of Hells Canyon and be lucky if we saw person over the course of a week. After we had been going for a couple of years the exact area we spent time in was reported in Backpacker magazine. The next year all of our favorite camp spots were taken, the trails were clogged, and the experience was pretty much ruined.

On the other hand since moving to a state that I didn't know anyone that hiked or backpacked I have had to rely more and more on trip reports and guide books to find good spots. I have found a few with some decent solitude but usually if I found them through trip reports and guide books so have a few hundred other people.
 

muir_mountain

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Joined
Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
@swmalone unfortunately, that's exactly what would happen if this spot was reported in Backpacker. It's not about difficulty of access. For instance, thousands of people have no problem driving to Pinedale (in the middle of nowhere) and hiking 15 miles one-way to Titcomb Basin. The license plates in the parking lot are from just about every state.

I recognize that the only reason this range isn't more popular is because people actively keep it a secret, and that Backpacker hasn't done a piece on it. It's not just MY place... I'm doing this for everyone's enjoyment.
 

Jackson

I like to go outside.
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Joined
May 31, 2015
Messages
2,413
I think the proximity of ranges that have more "dramatic" scenery that appeals to the masses helps draw people's attention away from this particular range as well.
 

JoshuaDyal

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2015
Messages
186
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this site ain't exactly Backpacker. And for that matter, this exact location was mentioned as a worthy side-hike on another loop in the same range in an article on Backpacker a while ago. Granted; it didn't feature this lake as the particular destination, though...
 

Bob

Trailmaster
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Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,672
Chances are the location is out there on the web already ....... :rolleyes:
 

WasatchWill

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Jul 23, 2013
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For what it's worth, I haven't figured out the area yet, but I assume it's there in Colorado not far from Boulder.
 

Amal Flower Kay

New Member
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Feb 17, 2016
Messages
2
I think I did this exact same loop two summers ago because my photos of the upper lake look extremely similar. More snow when I was there so I missed the beautiful waterfall but I've always wanted to go back there!
 

muir_mountain

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Apr 16, 2016
Messages
121
I think I did this exact same loop two summers ago because my photos of the upper lake look extremely similar. More snow when I was there so I missed the beautiful waterfall but I've always wanted to go back there!
It wasn't a loop... I doubt this was the same place. :)
 
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