Topic: Colorado Trip 2006
Lots of screw-ups on Tuesday! Not much of a sunrise, too many clouds, and the mountains obscured most of it anyways. Plus, the meeting place for our birdwalk was very hard to find, it was actually on someone's ranch, that they let the park use. Most of the walkers got lost, not just me. The ranch was very beautiful, though, and then we saw a pair of coyotes. Male and female, according to the ranger, I sure couldn't tell! Too far for a picture, I'm sure I would have missed them altogether if not for the group. Saw them pretty well through the binoculars, though.
Surprise, surprise, our ranger was born in Lexington!!!! Long time ago he says. He had fun remembering the old Cozad/Lexington rivalry, and the 18-county plate on my car.
Birds were pretty sparse again, we were hoping to see raptors on the Twin Owls. No luck, though.
We met a group that was hiking around lumpy ridge, they asked the ranger about the steps up to gem lake. He said the steps are very steep, about 1.5 feet each, and lots of 'em! He said it's almost easier going up than coming down. Of course, this is where I was going today! The hikers said they usually go the long way around, and avoid the steps. This would mean a lot to me later! We finish our birdwalk, and I swap my 1/4 full water bottle for a full one, figuring that will be plenty for my little 4-mile walk up & down the steps. Screw up #1!
We all say good-bye, and everybody leaves but me. I begin to walk the steps up to gem lake. After 60-70 of these steps, my thighs are starting to ache! But, there are great views looking out over Estes Park, and an occasional break from the steps.
Then, I meet a guy that was born just outside of Eustis!! This guy maintains toilets in the park, and is working on one by gem lake. He has to carry lots of equipment, so how do you suppose he does it? With LLAMAS! I'd seen a few llamas before, but never working! He claimed a horse could climb up the steps, but you'd need a helicopter to get him down. I'm sure he would know better than I would! He also says the back way down is easier.....
I climb on to gem lake, and it is incredible!! I hope the photos do it justice, it is a most unusual place.
As I'm looking around, another couple come up and yes, they too say the back way down is much easier - longer, but easier. Finally I am convinced. I look at my map, but don't notice the little 2-mile hike I have done doesn't compare at all to the distance of the back way. Screw up #2!