July 17, 2013
Today Kelley and I joined a group taking an afternoon hike up to Bill Moore Lake. The trail to get to Bill Moore Lake is part of the Continental Divide Trail and requires a bit of four wheeling up 274, a rocky dirt road off Fall River Road to get there. In fact, many people go off roading on 274 on the weekends, so this hike is better suited during the week.
Just before the trailhead, is the remnants of an old building from the mining days. As soon as we ducked into the trees, the trail gradually turned up the mountain slope and then it quickly turned into severe and steep switchbacks. The trail was actually built up on a retaining wall! I couldn’t help but wonder who felt like building a wall from 10,000 to 11,000 feet…it was hard enough to walk up it! As we were trying to beat a storm rolling in, we hardly stopped to enjoy the magnificent views of the surrounding peaks, but we did catch a few glimpses.
Wildflowers were everywhere! I have never seen so many different kinds and colors. Before we left the treeline red indian paint brush, purple aster, and blue columbine lined the trail. As we emerged into the rocky, grassy slopes more and more flowers covered the hillside…bistort, purple fringe flowers, alpine phlox, fleabane, chiming bells, kings crown, and yarrow. I’m certain I’m not even naming all of them, and I didn’t even come close to getting a picture of all them. I didn’t know there were bright pink and salmon colored indian paint brush! If there weren’t 2,000 mosquitoes (no exaggeration) and a storm weren’t rolling in, I think I would have plopped down in a patch of these wildflowers for an hour. I was just in awe of the flowers surrounded by green peaks still spotted with snow.
I couldn’t help but wonder as we were making our way to the lake if the wildflowers were nice on this trail every year, if we timed it perfectly, or if it was due to all the rain we’ve been having. I most definitely will have to return to this trail again and make the steep 1,300 foot climb over a short 1.5 mile portion of the 7 mile roundtrip. As we got closer to the lake we dipped back down below the tree line and crossed a few small streams before the trail took us out onto a dirt road. Here we turned right, passed by another old shelter, and stopped at the lake tucked beneath the rocky points and dark clouds above.
The menacing thunder turned us away within a few minutes. No lightning was in sight and the rain hadn’t started, but we didn’t want to take any chances given a mile of the hike took us across open space. We backtracked quickly as sprinkles began, though by the time we reached the treeline, the sun was shining! The trail to Bill Moore Lake was one of the prettiest hikes I’ve been on in Colorado…glorious!! ETB