Southeastern Gore Range Backpack – Day 2
July 22, 2001 in South
Day 2: The hike to Gore Lake
I woke up about an hour before Ruth Ann and Pat did. They had complained a bit last night about headaches so I suspected that the altitude had gotten to them just a little bit; the extra rest would help. In the meantime, I explored around a bit. I tried to find a place to cross Gore Creek up ahead of our camp but I didn’t find one. I spent the rest of the time checking out the flowers. About 15 minutes after I arrived back at camp, Pat woke up and soon thereafter Ruth Ann too. We had a pretty basic breakfast and then packed up camp. We spent a few minutes taking pictures of the morning sun striking the brilliant flowers in the meadow that we were camped alongside. The leisurely pace was nice and it wasn’t until around 8:30 or so that we began the hike up to Gore Lake.
The hike to Gore Lake isn’t far; it’s under 1.5 miles, but it’s a fairly steep climb. We’d just planned on taking it slowly, stopping to take pictures along the way. That’s exactly what we did. The beginning of the trail was fairly steep and wended through a thick evergreen forest. After we had accomplished most of the ascent, we emerged into grassy meadows with great views all around us. We saw lots of wildlife too. We spotted some deer a hundred yards away or so and even saw either a ferret or weasel scampering among the rocks. Ferrets are pretty rare and this one looked bigger than the others I had seen (on Longs Peak) so maybe it was a weasel or some similar animal. (8/1/01 – After some more analysis and a consultation with another Gore Range fan, I’m pretty sure we saw a pine marten. This image is provided by John Marriott.)
After a bit more wandering through the forest along the nice trail, we started up a steeper part of the trail flanked by some of the most brilliant Indian Paintbrush that I’d ever seen. We saw all sorts of different colors: yellow, pink, and scarlet. In front of us loomed a mountainous wall; obviously we were getting close to the lake. Sure enough, we topped out and saw the lake nestled inside the mountain cirque, just inside of treeline.
As usual, we took our packs off and then scouted around for the best camping spot. We found one fairly close to the water that was almost like a small island thanks to the tarns below the lake. We set up camp and then began to ponder what we’d do the rest of the day.
I had originally planned that we’d go climb a couple of peaks from this camp but the weather seemed to be turning a little nasty. It was beginning to cloud up quite a bit around Hail Peak and Willow. It didn’t take long before rain started sprinkling down on us. The rain didn’t last long but the weather still looked menacing as if the rain could begin again at any time. We decided to put off the side trip to the peaks until the next day, when we’d be moving closer anyway. So, we did indeed grab our cameras and headed south, up and around the lake looking for good pictures. We found lots of tarns and neat rocks where all sorts of really weird looking spiders had built their webs. We kept venturing further and further. We saw what looked to be a pretty big rainstorm to the south heading right for us. We turned around immediately and made it quickly back to camp. The rain had caught up with us though, but it wasn’t too bad. The rain cooled everything down.
This small rainstorm didn’t last too long either. Everything dried out pretty quickly and we spent the rest of the time around camp throwing the frisbee (we had to have good aim because we were thrownig over the tarns) and playing a game with 48 rocks that Pat taught us (the name escapes me). Pat even took a short swim in Gore Lake. I would have but just wasn’t hot enough to jump into the cold water. This lake wasn’t too bad either – it was just at 60 degrees which would have felt great if the sun had been beating down on us all day.
Later on in the afternoon, we went and scouted our route to Snow Lake. The plan was to drop our packs near Snow Lake and take the side trip to climb Hail Peak and Zodiac View. So, our first job was finding the easiest way over to Snow Lake. At first, I thought we would drop back down into the valley and hike back up, but this appeared to be a lot of elevation. So we scouted ahead and found an excellent route following animal trails. We placed small cairns at early crucial turns and then headed back to camp.
We prepared another delicious dinner consisting of brown rice and fresh vegetables from my garden. We even “shish-kabobed” a few slices of zuchinni and yellow squash. That night we all crammed into my tent because it looked like rain again. We all thought it would be too cramped inside my tent but it wasn’t bad at all. We all slept well. I awoke at night to hear the rain pounding down on the tent.
On to day 3.