The Rockies: Another Hike at Abyss Lake Trail, Colorado

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I went back to Abyss Lake Trail, number 602, on the way to Guanella Pass. This time, along with Kristin and Justin, I followed the trail all the way up to Abyss Lake as opposed to turning off the trail at the Rosalie Intersection.  We hiked over 14 miles in 6 hours and gained over 2,000 feet.

It wasn’t long before we met our first challenge, one of the early bridges over the creek was washed out. Logs and rocks were scattered across the creek, but none made it all the way across nor did they look stable enough to hold us. We followed the shore of the creek a bit as we contemplated our options, when I suggested that we just take off our shoes and wade. As we were preparing, another couple didn’t think that was such a good idea because the water was cold, and asked if I had ever crossed a creek. Multiple times at Estabrook, I thought.

Yes, the water was ice cold, the creek was wide, and our feet burned immediately, but we made it to the other side! After drying our feet and lacing up our shoes, we went on our way, following the path beneath the aspens that were just beginning to bloom.

The rest of the bridges seemed to be hanging by a thread as the water came up to the bottom from the high runoff. We crisscrossed the creek, passed by the beaver ponds, and slowly turned up the switchbacks, many of which were blocked by fallen trees. As such, occasionally we followed the most used looking trail, crossed a little snow, and sometimes ended up on our own trail until we found our way back to the marked trail with the help of cairns.

We eventually made it above the treeline around 11,000 feet and hiked through the tundra as the wind whipped behind us. Our lunch at the lake, tucked beneath sheer mountain peaks dotted in spring snow, was quick as the body heat we worked up on our climb plummeted while we sat unprotected from the wind.

We didn’t spot any mountain goats or sheep that like the area, but the views at the lake and along the way were lovely. After we had thought we’d reached our final destination, a nearby camped said we sat at an unnamed lake and Abyss Lake was farther.  Oh well, we were ready to return to the car.  It was another great hike in the Colorado Rockies! ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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