Still under the weather with (smoke-related) bronchitis and would have stayed locked indoors had it not been for my New Year’s pledge.  Soooo very last minute on Sunday morning, I fast-n-furious scoured for a weekly hike.  I remember a lady at my local dog park once mentioning Lake Dorothy as challenging – today’s destination Lake Dorothy, elevation 12,061 feet.

Didn’t arrive in Nederland until 10am on a sunny summer day morning – so the place was packed, no parking to be found.  Parked and started the 2 mile hike to ‘4th of July’ road.  Lucky for us, a bus stopped and asked if we wanted a ride.  Sweet, huh?  From the bus drop-off point, sign read 4 miles to ‘4th of July’ trailhead.  Ugh ’cause  I remember the hike being 7.3 miles roundtrip from the trailhead.  Go big or go home — today’s hike was gonna cure me (with a rush of happy endorphins) or kill me.

I’m ‘all in’ and focused on banging out these first 4 miles as soon as possible.  The road hugged a large rushing river so Ro enjoyed two water/swim breaks – all before we ‘technically’ started today’s trail hike.  Unfortunately my notes were kinda sketchy but knew Arapahoe Pass Trail was the initial trail choice to Lake Dorothy once we reached the trailhead.

The MOST wildflowers year-to-date of any hike we’ve done.  All ROYGBIV rainbow hues represented – fed by mountain streams which created 2 healthy waterfalls both intersecting our hike – beautiful!  The climb ascended into a green valley surrounded by glacier-riddled mountains.  Colours were all so vivid – like being interposed into a Ravenswood jigsaw puzzle of the Swiss Alps.  W-O-W!

So I’m now 6 miles in after the bus ride and make a HUGE directional mistake – taking Arapahoe Glacier trail at the 2-mile junction.  This trail led Ro & I across a tundra marsh and then up a series of switchbacks up the base of Mount Neva.

The trail moderates through a broad krummholz flat (1.65 miles : 11,110′) to the Arapaho Glacier Trail split (2.05 miles : 11,236′), and continues past the historic Fourth of July Mine into open tundra. The trail is well-defined but markedly rugged once above treeline.

A mile and half into this trail we see our first hikers, who confirm we are on the wrong trail.  Disappointing.  Altitude made my lungs ache for air – bronchitis creating an asthmatic reaction.  Time for a lunch break.  Two bites of bean burrito and whoof – I empty my stomach like an East Coast tourist.  I catch 20 minutes of zzz’s on a large rock and contemplate the meaning of life.

Do I hike back and then another mile and half in the other direction to see Lake Dorothy?  OR (after doing the math) do I focus on just getting back: 1.5 miles + 2 miles (to trailhead) + 4 miles (to 4th of July road) + 2 miles (to Nederland)?

I take the losers’ ‘tude this day and head home 🙁  Leaves me with unfinished business for another day – maybe 4th of July week…seems appropriate [this hike] starting from 4th of July trailhead.

 

 

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