Decided it was finally time – Ro’s 1st high altitude hike!

Did my online research and settled on Lake Isabelle – part of Indian Peaks Wilderness.  Although our Colorado sun evaporated precip from all local roads, ice and patchy snow fast became the norm on the climb to Brainard.  Elevation increased past 8,000 ft and the snow deepened.  Enter ‘Ward Colorado’ – the town that time forgot…er, shanty town.  One road through town – snowmobile traffic on all dirt road offshoots.  Additionally, saw more abandoned (roadside) trucks and campers than could be counted on 2 hands.

All roads close shortly past Ward, who knew? 🙁

5 miles in to Brainard trailhead, we saw our first sign prohibiting dogs from Nov-April.  Seriously…after a 5 mile hike?  Who’s gonna patrol today?  Hmmm…  And lucky for me I left my snowshoes safely stored in the front hall closet.  Argh!  That said – what a beautiful Colorado day!  Snow, sunshine and brisk low-oxygen air – can’t help but smile.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this place! 🙂

Brainard Lake, then Long Lake, then Lake Isabelle.  Lake Isabelle….hmmm.   The trail to Brainard was arduous but not impossible, thanks to ski tracks left by previous travelers.  Brainard Lake 10,300 ft – a WOW moment!

Brief lunch break, then Ro & I start the trek to Long Lake.  Literally FEET of snow ahead – where are those snowshoes?  Frozen pants, short breaks to clear ice-build up on puppy’s paws and snowscaped parking lots.  Blue diamond markers now also snow-covered — ranger ski tracks through the woods become our only point of reference.

Wind, cold, stillness.  Completely alone on this hike.

Our hike ended not far past the last ranger tracks at Long Lake.  Quick pose at Brainard to commemorate Ash’s 22nd birthday – then homeward bound and 11 hours of solid sleep.  Who needs a dog park?


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