It always feels so easy to get on a plane and go to a new destination and forget all about the amazing places in your own backyard. I daydream about climbing Aconcagua and walking miles on the desolate terrain in Iceland but the reality is that the state of Colorado has a very diverse geography, ranging from majestic mountains, deep canyons, deserts with enormous sand dunes to lush forests. So last summer, instead of trying to get away to far flung places we decided to spend some time discovering our state.
For Dan’s birthday in July, we drove down to Telluride (about 6 hrs from Denver), a ski town nestled in San Juan mountains in south west Colorado. We did an overnight stop in Montrose and mastered the art of car camping. Next morning, despite our lack of sleep and stiff backs, we were excited to be on the way to hike the Blue Lakes (between Montrose and Telluride). We got off the main highway and drove another 15 miles on a small, windy road. The area is so desolate that we didn’t spot another car for 30 minutes until we reached the trailhead. The trail is considered one of the best to see wildflowers during summer. I don’t think that either one of us was the least bit disappointed. The trail takes you to three lakes on different elevations. The first 45 minutes of the hike was steep and strenuous but it was balanced by the quiet beauty of the foliage, the blooming wildflowers and the sound of streams in the distance.
As you approach the first lake, you realize that it is aptly named Blue Lake. The turquoise color shimmered and the entire ecosystem around the lake – the native grasses, flowers, insects, hikers – brimmed with life. We had a quick lunch and continued our hike to the next two lakes which were above the tree line. Even though, we were over 11,000 feet and experienced some shortness of breath with each step, we were overpowered by the incredible beauty of our surroundings – vibrant, knee high wildflowers, the melting snow feeding the lakes, sweeping vistas, the towering San Juan giants, the grassy, alpine landscape. In that moment, it is hard not to just stop for a moment, take a deep breath and feel good to be alive!