Trip Report, Colorado Part 2: Deluge Lake
Following our jaunt up Capitol Peak, Dylan and I had decided to hike into the Gore Range near Vail. Looking for something a little more low key we had settled on Deluge Lake. Looking at the hiking project description, it seemed perfect for what we were looking for, solitude, fairly easy, and an alpine lake with views.
Well, two out of the three of those were right. We knew, because we saw the description, but the trail climbs 3400 feet over a relatively short distance. Following 6500+ feet of gain and 21 miles from the day before, this steep climb was abuse for my legs.
The trail started out looping down and around some aspens before taking a straight line up to the top of the ridge. There were some switchbacks, but for the most part it was fairly continuous. Along the trail were some views of the valley below where you were climbing out of. The trail down in the valley leads to Gore Lake, an easier and more popular alternative to Deluge Lake.
As we climbed the sun beat down on our backs. We stopped intermittently for water and to catch our breath. The hike seemed to go on forever. All three of us (Amelia came along too!), were not mentally ready for the amount of climbing that was taking place. There seemed to be a never-ending single track up into the valley.
Luckily though, the views were spectacular and I was able to catch my breath and let the acid in my legs flush out a bit while taking pictures. Eventually though, after what seemed like a never ending slog up to the lake it finally ended and there indeed was water in the lake. There were also tons of mountain goats, off near the west side of the lake.
Immediately upon arrival of the lake Dylan and I stripped down and hopped in. It was refreshingly cold. This is I think the third alpine lake I've jumped into where there was still snow feeding into it... It needs to happen more that's for sure! I was contemplating on the way up, when would be a time that I would hike to an alpine lake and not jump in the lake?*
I thought of two situations:
- If getting wet meant I would not be able to dry off in a timely manner and I might get hypothermia.
- The lake was contaminated with gross stuff you wouldn't want to jump in.
*On the PCT I made rules for what "Jumping in a lake" actually meant.
- Your head must go in the water.
- Your genitals must go in the water
- You must splash water on the rest of your body.
This way when you "Jump into the lake" you don't have to risk cardiac arrest when you're all alone in the wilderness, just because there was a bunch of snow surrounding the lake. Plus, you can still clean your body off.
After getting sufficiently refreshed in the lake we set up camp and gathered firewood. Dylan mostly did the firewood gathering while Amelia and I took in the view. While we were taking the view in we made new friends. The heard of goats decided to come over and investigate our campsite. They started eating the dirt and rocks that someone had peed on before we got there. One by one they kept coming over until there was probably a multitude of generations of goats in our campsite.
I really didn't appreciate how close they were getting to us. Sure, they looked really cute, but in a battle they would most definitely win. Some people say I have cannons for legs, they have battle tanks for legs and a ramming rod for a head. Not a fight I'd want to get in with the sun setting swiftly.. or ever for that matter. I really wasn't sure what to do to scare them off, so I did what came to me and started doing jumping jacks and yelling really loud. It did the trick and our new friends didn't come back over for the rest of the night.
For dinner Dylan & Amelia cooked their famous skillet Mac & Cheese dinner while I just sat around and watched the sunset taking pictures as cool stuff happened. We were able to relax and breathe the thin, but fresh mountain air. The sun ducked behind the mountains and darkness quickly fell upon the valley.
Stars started showing up overhead until the moon came out. It was almost a full moon so you could still see all the ridges on the peaks around us in fairly bright light. Settling down for the night Dylan and Amelia hopped in their tent, while I chose to cowboy camp again. I think the quote was something like, "I came too damn far not to breath in as much Colorado air as I can!"
In the morning we packed up and headed back down. It was quicker than we remembered, as always, and made it back to the parking lot in a short 2 hours. If you're looking for a quick overnighter in the vail Valley this was one you should keep on your list. Except for a few other people we pretty much had the lake to ourselves. It was quiet and serene, exactly what I was looking for before heading back to Kentucky the next day.
What's next? Birthdays, Gauley Fest, and after that the fall colors should be starting to change in the smokies and higher elevations. We might see what layers we can find down there. In the mean time, keep your head up and walk out the door!