Clearing my mind, but lost in the woods
Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb? President Ulysses S. Grant of course. Where does Trappers Lake Trail take you? Not around Trappers Lake, as I had assumed.
Inspired by last Tuesday’s story by Will Grandbois, my adventurous friend and I decided to spend a few hours hiking around the lake.
It was a perfect blue-sky day and we opted for the shorter mileage but longer ride through New Castle on Buford Road, a beautiful choice. Appropriately we had some bluegrass and old timey music to serenade us on our journey.
Will asked me to stop by the lodge to return some research material as well as a copy of the PI with his story (http://bit.ly/1CNKRFt). Holly King, the proprietor and a former consultant for a Los Angeles law firm, greeted us warmly, as if we were long-lost friends.
We heard the burgers were good and decided to have an early lunch before our easy hike. Holly suggested a few trails, and we opted to hike around the lake. We ventured out on the Trappers Lake Trail on the shores of the pristine lake, with the ravages of fire clearly visible after 12 years. It was a stark contrast of natural beauty and the charred remains of trees.
As we leisurely enjoyed the hike, we eventually came to a stream we had to cross over on some downed trees. While my stamina is OK and my friend’s is excellent, our sense of balance was shaky. We were both relieved that there was no one around to witness us slowly crawling over those trees.
We lost visual contact with the lake, as we were told to expect, as the trail began to rise and I began to huff and puff. My hiking partner led us farther and farther from the lake as we expected the trail to turn to the right. After a half hour or so we began to realize that right turn just may not happen.
Do we backtrack or bushwhack? I made the wrong decision. Have you ever tried bushwhacking an area devastated by a fire? It was difficult to walk more than 10 yards without having to climb over several charred, downed trees. And then there were the wetlands and several streams to cross. We walked for hours and still no sign of the lake or a trail. We knew we were heading in the correct direction, because of familiar-looking mountains to our left and right.
Eventually we stopped worrying about our feet getting wet and mucky and opted for as straight and as clear of a path as possible. And we were relieved when we finally intersected with the trail. We learned the hard way that the 5-plus-mile hike around the lake is on the Carhart Trail.
Did we look at a map ahead of time? No. Did we have a compass? No. Did we have a GPS of any kind? No. Were we smart about planning our simple hike? No. These were all rookie mistakes from seasoned veterans. I suppose you are never too old to learn.
As the summer comes to an end, I urge you to explore and enjoy the therapy of getting outdoors. At the PI, the stress of creating budget plans for 2015 is upon us. The controversy of how to best handle the bridge here in Glenwood Springs is in full swing this week. The upside of getting lost in the beauty of our forests was that my mind was totally clear of everything but my surroundings. We all need that from time to time. While I don’t recommend getting lost, the trip will be far more memorable than if we had simply followed the correct trail around the lake.
Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.
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