Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Colorado 2014 - Hanging Lake

Let me tell you about the Hanging Lake adventure we had...

The morning after we arrived in Glenwood Springs, we wanted to hike to Hanging Lake. Rebecca and I had hiked it about 12 years ago and we remember it being a cool hike with great views. So we got up, ate breakfast and packed up our campsite since we were going to Grand Lake that afternoon. We loaded out of the place at about 9:30 or so and headed about 10 miles on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon to the Hanging Lake exit. Now, there's nothing else on this exit except the parking lot for the trailhead. You can't even get back on the highway going east, you have to go back west when you leave and then turn around at the next exit 3 miles away. When we got to the Hanging Lake exit, we were stunned to find it blocked off and signs saying the lot was full! We didn't realize this would be an issue, but it was a Saturday and the summer, so it was a peak day. Now, Glenwood Canyon is beautiful to drive through but there's little to no cell service to speak of and we were in two cars, so communicating was impossible. We drove past the exit to the next eastward exit about 5 miles away and made a plan to go to Rifle Falls. However, on our way back by Hanging Lake's exit, we saw that they were opening it up! There's no westbound exit for it so we had to make the 6-mile round trip back to the eastbound exit. By the time we got there, it was full again and closed off, but we decided to park on the ramp and wait for them to open it again. Unfortunately, a line formed behind us and started blocking traffic, so the drove us off. We gave up then and went to Rifle Falls.

When we got done with Rifle Falls, our plan was to drive to Grand Lake about 4 hours away and camp for the night there. The drive back took us right past the same exit for Hanging Lake that we'd had such a hard time with that morning. Jamie passed it before us and said it was still blocked, but when we came by about 10 minutes later, the guy manning the cones let us in! We got down and parked and immediately called Jamie. Cell service is very sparse in the canyon, so we were thrilled to be able to get a call out. Jamie came back and managed to get in and we set off on our hike. Simple, right? Umm... no. Hanging Lake is called Hanging Lake for a reason. The entire 1.25-mile trail is a long series of switchbacks and bridges that climb nearly 1000 feet up to the lake. Didn't remember that little detail...

 The kids had all fallen asleep on the ride from Rifle. They were very groggy when we got them out to prepare for the hike. They managed to rouse themselves, though.
 The walk to the trailhead is deceptively easy... beautiful view looking back though.
 The trail follows Deadhorse Creek all the way up, giving some really pretty waterfalls. Emma, who rode on my back, felt it was necessary to point out each and every one of them. "Look! A waterfall!"

 It seemed like everywhere I looked was a postcard.
Hanging Lake and Bridal Veil Falls

 Emma liked dropping rocks in to the stream.
 The older kids decided that this old rockslide was a great place to climb.
 It was quite dirty, though.

It may have been a harder trail than I remembered, but the climb was worth it. The view and the lake were simply beautiful and the kids all had a great time and were so good and positive on both the way up and down. We were so thrilled that we were able to get to do both Rifle Falls and Hanging Lake in the same day. 

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