Hiking to Hanging Lake

Trip Start Jul 26, 2012
Trip End Aug 06, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Monday, July 30, 2012

It's a beautiful Monday morning, we're in the Colorado Rockies, so time to get our hiking on. After hearing wonderful things about Hanging Lake, we decided to give it a try. When I was told by a friend, who incidentally is in great shape, that he was passed by pregnant ladies, I figured I had nothing to fear - WRONG!

Hanging Lake is hidden within the steep walls of Glenwood Canyon west of Avon just off Interstate 70. Again, another beautiful drive if you ignore the area around Gypsum - the name says it all. We arrived early enough to secure a parking spot and headed off for a hike easy enough for a pregnant lady. My first warning sign was, literally, the sign that said "Caution: Trail is difficult". I'll just pretend I didn't see this and carry on. I mean, what could be easier than a paved bike trail, right?  Problem is that paved bike trail quickly gave way to a steep and rocky path!

Two days in the Rockies does NOT prepare you for the huge elevation change we experienced coming from Houston. I think we (as in me) were stopping about every 5 minutes or so to catch our breath. When we hit the quarter mile marker - only 3/4 of a mile more to go - I told Gary to go on without me as at least one of us should see the lake. I grabbed the keys, thinking I may head back to the car and play on my iphone, and he headed on up the mountain. After resting for a bit, I decided to keep going. Even if I didn't make it all the way I could at least enjoy the scenery along the way. Plus I met a lot of really friendly people at each of my multitude of resting places.

Though fairly steep and rocky, it was a beautiful hike. The trees were lush and beautiful, and the stream coming down from the lake meandered along the trail, sometimes splashing downhill as a waterfall. As I climbed and rested, visiting with people along the way, the number one thing I got from anyone who lived in Colorado was this is the best place ever to live.  There were a lot of locals along the trail, plus I met folks from the west coast to the east coast. I had a great time making new friends!

After I passed the halfway mark I became determined to make it all the way up. I continued on, walking 5 minutes and resting 10. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but not by a lot. As I was once again resting, this time close to the 3/4 mile marker, I spotted Gary heading downhill. Totally not expecting to find me so close to the top he was pretty surprised to see me there. After giving him a bit of time to catch his breath, we headed back up. This time I had a guide to tell me what to expect and when to rest for the final push to the top.

I finally made it, and was greeted with cheers by quite a few new friends. But the best part by far was the view. The lake is such an extraordinary color of blue, it almost looks unreal. We sat down next to my new Maryland friends for a drink and granola bars, and watched a begging chipmunk eat his fill of whatever people would toss him. I really think he would have taken food right out of your hand, having obviously overcome any fear of people. Smart chipmunk!

Due to the massive amount of thunder in the area we decided we should head on back down, the recent news of the Houston soccer dads getting killed by lightening while standing under trees fresh on my mind. It started raining pretty good just as we reached the bottom, so we missed the possibility of sliding down slippery rocks. Probably the craziest thing we saw, after the lady wearing dress shoes, was seeing the lady hiking up barefoot. Obviously she didn't read the same sign I did (and ignored).

It was good to be down, albeit a bit sore, in one piece. And I felt an immense amount of pride in my accomplishment. As I told a group of twenty-somethings I passed on the way down who were contemplating giving up, "if a 58 year old with 3 knee surgeries and a triple by-pass can make it, so can you"!

1.2 mile with a 1,020 foot elevation change, each way. I did good!
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Roger Bourland on

I forgot to mention that the pregnant lady passed me on her way down as I stopped to take a picture. Seriously though, a BIG congratulations are in order to both you and Gary for taking on this challenge. Now you can join Becky and me on some longer hikes and higher hikes. Beaver Lake hike is next.

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