Here, finally, are the pictures from our wonderful and challenging backpacking trip.
We hiked Eaglesmere Trail, which is about 45 minutes NW of Silverthorne. The trailhead is located near Lower Cataract Lake.
Thank you, Google Maps.
The road to get to the trail head is pretty rough (washboard dirt roads) and tight (which makes for some interesting times when there’s an oncoming car). When we arrived at the trail head parking lot around 10:30 am, both the main lot and the overflow lot were completely full. We had no choice but to create our own spot, which was difficult because the Forest Service has lined the open areas with logs to prevent you from doing just that. Secret: there’s an open spot near the outhouse, which is where we parked.
We finally got on the trail, which was absolutely gorgeous. It was very wooded and green, with lots of plants and flowers. It actually kind of felt like a jungle. Since the last couple of hikes Travis and I have gone on were near Colorado Springs where it’s very rocky, this lushness was a pleasant change.
It was very hot this July 4th weekend with temperatures reaching 100 in Denver and mid-80s in the mountains. Within 10 minutes of starting out, I had sweat streaming down my face and dripping off my chin – and we were still in the shade! There are a few stretches of this hike in full sun and while it gets hot out there, they’re not the steepest parts. But you do get a gorgeous view.
I totally think I look like my mom in that picture. Like mother, like daughter.
Our dog, Katy, was so cute on this trip. While our dog, Charlie, stuck to the front of the pack with Rocky (Ahren and Lauren’s dog), Katy followed along after Ahren and Lauren and would come back to watch for me and Travis pulling up the rear. Once we were in sight again, she’d continue on. Just wanted to make sure
we I hadn’t died, I guess.
See my massive calf muscle? Hells yeah!
Also, note my little lantern hung on the back of my pack (it’s the blue thing at the bottom). Travis laughed at me when I bought it. I laugh at him when he wears his headlamp.
At about the time the last picture above was taken, my legs and my mouth were cursing at the never-ending hills on this trail. The highest point of the trail is 10,300 ft – starting at 8,500 ft – an elevation gain of 1,800 ft, which isn’t that bad except when you’re 1) not in backpacking shape and 2) doing hard workouts all week for triathlon training. My legs were just so tired. I have never felt like that on a hike before (well except for the first time I went backpacking, but I’m in a lot better shape than then. Last year, we did 30 miles in 3 days but they were flat miles. I hate hills!)
Finally, we were getting closer. We arrived at a stream (which was more like a small river it was flowing so fast) and then bushwhacked it on the ‘Rock Superhighway’ to the lake (which I don’t think is actually Eaglesmere Lake but some other obscure, yet well-known, little lake).
Finally, to my immense relief, we arrived. I survived! But the thing about backpacking (or really camping in general) is that once the hard work is over, there’s more hard work. Like setting up your tents, making a fire ring, keeping an eye on your dogs so they don’t piss your neighbors off (even though they piss you off with firecrackers at 10 pm and a dog named Slim that keeps visiting), cooking your food, filtering water, gathering fire wood, trekking up hills just to go to the bathroom, etc. Camping is so much work.
But at last, with all the dirty work out of the way, it was time for fishing, reading, picture taking, and a campfire.
The view of the lake from our campsite
The view of the mountains from our campsite
Our tent (borrowed from Ahren and Lauren because ours would not fit us + 2 pups)
Yay for self-portraits a la SkinnyRunner!
Isn’t that a totally awesome picture? Yeah, I took that – on my little Canon PowerShot.
The next morning, I woke up as the Green Hulk. That’s what happens when two dogs that should be exhausted beyond recognition still decide to wake up at 5 am. Grrrr…
Instead of accepting my early wake up call like I should have, I took the dogs on a little 10-minute walk, then tried to get them to go back to sleep in the tent. They weren’t having it (for the record, they hit their daily energy peak at 6 am). So I had Travis tie them to a tree when he got up to pee. Which was pretty much useless because I just laid there the whole time, hearing them walking around, tangling themselves together, and then Charlie digging a hole.
Finally, I resigned myself to my fate and got up. Not too long after that, Ahren and Lauren were up, and then I made Travis get up too.
After a breakfast of oatmeal and Strawberry Goober, we hiked down the stream that flows out of the lake to go fishing (I went to go reading). Actually, after contemplating an entire day of reading, I decided I would try my hand at fishing. Three casts in, I snagged my line on a rock or log and Travis broke the rod trying to get it un-snagged. Fishing FAIL. That is why I just shouldn’t fish. The universe was telling me something.
So instead, I read The Autobiography of George Muller and the Bible.
I also snuggled Katy.
She’s my little sidekick.
We also sat back-to-back for a little bit, which I thought was funny. (It’s also funny that I double as Popeye in this photo.)
I watched Travis fish for a bit.
Ahren and Lauren have been to this spot before and had tremendous luck catching fish. But the stream was a lot higher and faster than past years (due to the abnormally high amount of snow the high country received last winter) so we weren’t having much luck. After 30 minutes of no luck, we moved downstream to find Ahren and Lauren.
They found a great fishing spot where there was a bend in the stream and some trees had fallen across, creating slower water. It was also hilarious to watch the dogs make their way across these logs. Their balance wasn’t always the greatest, but not one fell in (though Rocky got wet a lot on purpose). Our dogs want nothing to do with water.
Kluthes didn’t have the greatest fishing luck. While Ahren and Lauren caught 4-5 small brook trout (and Lauren had caught a nice, big one the night before at the lake), Travis caught a few (I caught none of course) and then he caught his line on a log. After a wholehearted attempt to save the lure (I’m not a fisher so I don’t know what you call them), they cut the line and said RIP.
Meanwhile, the early-rising dogs were peetered out and trying to take a nap anywhere they could.
We all laughed at the places Charlie tried to sleep. While we were at our campsite the second night, both Katy and Charlie were so tired that they found little nooks to curl up in. Charlie even tried to crawl under the vestibule on Ahren and Lauren’s tent. When we told she couldn’t do that, she found a cozy spot in a some tall grass. I kept telling her that she wouldn’t be so tired if she’d just stop getting up so early but she just looked at me with her Eeyore face. Oh, bother.
Since the pooches were so obviously tired (and so was I), I decided to capitalize on their sleepiness by returning to camp for a nap of my own. It was glorious but I felt a little guilty because by the time I got up from my nap, Ahren and Lauren had filtered water, collected more firewood and gutted their fish. Whoops.
After dinner and some campfire discussion, I retired to bed with the pooches at 9 pm.
The next morning, pooches didn’t get up until 8 am! It was a miracle! I slept a lot better the second night (I got a little chilly at night but warmed right up by sticking my head in my sleeping bag). We ate our breakfast of champions (oatmeal with Strawberry Goober) and packed up camp. We took some pictures of the gang:
I had been nervous about the hike back and even prayed the night before as I was falling asleep that God would give me the energy and strength I needed to make it back. The first mile and a half on the way back was mostly uphill (since the lake itself is only at 10,000 ft) and I was sweating buckets again. After that, it was downhill. While I was glad to not be incredibly out of breath and ridiculously sweaty (I was only really sweaty), my legs were still exhausted.
I was SO ready to be done that I welcomed a break for this photo op (Travis took that pic – I think he did very well!):
Little did we know that the appearance of Colorado Columbine means the end of the hike! I rounded the trail bend, saw the trail head, and exclaimed “We made it!”
After using the outhouse, replacing our hiking boots with sandals, and loading up the tired pooches, we made our way to Silverthorne for some delicious food at Dairy Queen. I had the chicken finger basket and a mini Banana Split Blizzard. Delish!
Then we discovered that eastbound I-70 (the main interstate connecting Denver to the high country) was closed due to a semi-trailer that overturned. So our drive home looked like this:
It was a cluster. People were doing whatever they wanted or thought was necessary. What should have taken us an hour took us 2 1/2 but we finally made it home. We were so exhausted from the weekend and fed up with crowds that we decided to forego fireworks (and if you know how much I like fireworks, that is saying a lot). The annual Carnation Festival in Wheat Ridge always has a fireworks show so I figure I can just catch them then.
Well, that was our weekend. Backpacking is a fun adventure but man, it is hard work!