Six in the morning is actually the ideal time to be at the Hessie trailhead. First of all, you can actually get a parking spot there at that hour. Second, it was a very pleasant mid-50s temperature; a blissful relief from the week of 100+ highs down in L’ville (and more agonizingly, 70+ degree lows at night). Relatedly, half the state of Colorado has caught fire and it seems like the rest might go at any minute. Better see the mountains while I still can.
Frankly, it’s been so long, I wasn’t totally certain the mountains would still even be there. But they were and they were lovely. I “ran” the well-known trails up through the flower meadows near Lost Lake (not many flowers in this super-arid season, especially compared with last year). Thence I turned left and made the steep climb up to Woodland Lake and Skyscraper Reservoir, where I’ve been only once before. Very nice.
I hate back-tracking, so the plan had been to climb up and over the ridge above Skyscraper and drop into the Betty and Bob Lakes cirque to the west. Time was dragging on and I’d promised Amy I’d be back by 10-ish. (Oh, did I mention that we have a new baby? Family time is most of the time these days.) Instead, I wandered up a tundra slope above Woodland Lake to a ridge at 11,300′. The far side of the ridge turned out to be much steeper but not impassable. I bushwhacked down about 600′, following game trails and dead-reckoning and finally came out on the King Lake Trail about where I expected. From here it was an easy, pell-mell descent of about five miles back down to Hessie and the car.
Leaving Nederland at 9:30 in the morning it was already 86 degrees. Uggg! Time to dive back in to the heat and the family life, but nicely refreshed after a little tryst in with my mountains-next-door.
11 miles, 2500′ of vertical, a leisurely 3.5 hours.