11 July 2016

Hanging Lake

White River National Forest

The best way to get to Hanging Lake in the middle of the day is probably to pick one of the other parking areas and come in along the bike path, especially if you have your bike along. There is one two miles away and a couple four miles away. Getting to Hanging Lake well after lunch, there was no longer a line for parking spots nor the tan uniformed people enforcing a first come, first served policy. There were just enough spots for everyone as I come in until some twerp behind me decided to go against traffic and grab the last one. I had to circle back around and wait thirty seconds for a much closer and shadier spot instead. Still a twerp. Who gets a Nelson laugh.

Glenwood Canyon
The Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. The river is even bigger here as it is just upstream from a hydroelectric dam, but the waters still seem to churn powerfully waiting to suck down anyone foolish enough to go for a swim.

This parking lot only gets me closer to the trailhead than all the others. It is still a half mile along the paved bike path to actually begin the hike. I walk to the side of it, but the walls of wild rose keep pushing me back off the dirt. A delightful sign at the start informs me that this was once maintained as a city park by Glenwood Springs. Perhaps that explains why the only exit to get here is eastbound and the only entry from here is westbound. People were meant to just come out here and then go back home.

Start hiking here, and there are lots of rules and common sense suggestions. Much of the later seem to be ignored by the typical hiker in the area necessitating frequent rescues.

The route that was flat and smooth wastes no time getting steep and rocky once I turn off the bike path. One woman is wearing flip-flops as she climbs it with a small child. I fear for her toes. There are people who look like they have a daily run and in equal measure there are those who look like they have a daily check to make sure their clothes are still in fashion. The crowd is really diverse, too, which gives me hope.

rocky trail into the canyon
There is the trail, right up the middle of the photo through the rocks. There are a couple humans in there to help mark it.

river view
One last look at the Colorado River as the canyon closes in. There are more people to mark the trail in this direction.

The canyon closes in around me as I climb. It is already thick with shadow below the few visible and bright peaks. There are respites from the climbing, but mostly there is the climb. Found sticks were left at the bottom for the next travelers in need and quite a few more are currently in use.

making a way
One couple tests themselves against the trail using a found stick to help.

bridge number 5
There are seven crossings of the creek all made easy with numbered bridges.

bright cliffs above the floor
The cliff tops are still in light and will be for a while, but it does not get very far down at this hour.

Most the people do seem to be working at this trail. It is a very decent climb. One who is not is a young boy running up ahead and back and then further up ahead. The rest of his family are helping a woman that is probably his grandmother further along in short bursts between finding a rock to rest upon.

leaning hut
A mysterious old resting point below a tall cliff.

water on mossy rocks
A cascade of water hints at where the trail will be going next.

railings on the hillside
Then spotting some railings among the rocks confirms it.

Across one last bridge and the trail that was pretty serious about climbing already takes a very determined turn upwards. There are railings that could just barely be spotted from below. At first the railings seem a bit silly, but as it takes to high steps up a slight exposure, they seem a little more reasonable. The sign below had said they used to bring people up here on horseback when it was a city park, but they probably did not do so over this part. Other parts looked quite tough enough to earn the creek the name that was not mentioned: Dead Horse Creek.

down the narrow canyon
Looking back down the narrow canyon as I climb up into the sunlight.

railing on the rocks
Still a little more up to climb, but not all the way to the tops of the cliffs.

At the top, there is a junction to either continue upward to Spouting Rock or cross over to Hanging Lake. I go for the lake for now. I want to catch it with the most light and much of that has already been lost today. This is a good reason to get here in the middle of the day.

Hanging Lake
The hanging lake. The signs say a fault dropped it here and travertine keeps it a lake.

yellow columbines
Bright yellow columbines hanging over the lake.

It is quite interesting how the algae and other plants grow.

There are benches to sit upon to snack and try to take in the details. There are many many details. It takes a while to weave through the picture takers to leave again, but there is one more stop to be had. I head back to the junction and climb again. It is a very short climb and then there is the Spouting Rock as promised.

Spouting rock is a waterfall that starts halfway down, although there is enough water to have a bit coming over the top today.

looking out through the flow
Since there is a cave behind the spout flow, one can walk all around it.

I head back down again as a couple of the families I passes with young kids have made it this far and the place is suddenly quite crowded. It is probably time to turn back anyway. As I climb down the tall steps of stone, the grandmother is coming up the other way. She is actually doing quite well on this part and I am sure she will make it. Almost everyone on this path is full of determination to reach the goal. They have to be. It may only be 1.2 miles up here, but it is over 1000 feet as well. Then they have to go back down again. Down is a lot faster.

rock wall and shadow sign
Coming down past the sign again. The rest of the way just follows the rock wall, not that it can be seen much from so far down while doing so.

©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 4 August 2016

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