Denise Goldberg's blog

Sunday, September 23, 2012

a gem of a day

We had to drive a bit out of the way to get to the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead this morning. The direct route was under construction and blocked. Denise followed the detour signs to get to the start of our walk. That worked!

Our target for this morning was Gem Lake. The trail is 1.7 miles long, and it was almost entirely uphill. It started with a section of relatively shallow steps, changed to flat (but uphill), and then the upper part of the trail was really big steps. How big? The steps came up to Denise's knees! I rode in the camera bag for that section of the trail; I would have had to bounce really high to be able to jump up those steps!

When Denise saw the height of those steps she was a little concerned about walking down again because one of her knees sometimes doesn't like a steep downhill grade. It was very cool though - there was a family walking down just in front of us, and Denise heard the mom tell one of her daughters to turn sideways to go down those big steps. When Denise asked about that, the woman said that she has a bad knee and that makes it easier for her. Guess what! Denise tried going down the big steps sideways, and her knee felt fine. (It might have felt fine anyway but it seemed like a good thing to try!)

Our walking pace here has been about a half of an hour to cover a mile. That means the 1.7 miles uphill should have taken maybe an hour (a little less, really) - but all uphill made it even slower. Oh, and Denise kept stopping to breathe and to look around. It was a really wonderful walk though. The rocky scenery reminded us of pieces of Red Rock Canyon in Nevada. I bet that's why this section of the park is known as Lumpy Ridge. That's a funny name, isn't it?

We hiked up and up and up. According to the information we had on the rail the elevation gain was (only) 830 feet. It felt like more to me, but the walk was oh so worth it. Just before we reached the top we chatted with some people coming down. They said it was a tiny pond, not a lake. I don't really know what the difference is - at home some bodies of water are called ponds when I think they should be called lakes. I always thought lakes were bigger, but apparently that's not true.

Gem Lake was gorgeous! It was pretty small, surrounded by mostly rocks. There was a kind of a grassy beach in one section, rocks everywhere else. Some of the rocks were flat enough to walk across. And then there was a rock wall that was pretty much vertical, painted with some reds. That rock wall reflected in the water, so pretty. We walked around the parts of the lake where it was possible to walk and then we sat for a bit and enjoyed the beauty. I think I would be happy bouncing back up there again!

The walk down was easier than Denise thought it would be, maybe because of that hint of coming down the big steps sideways.

Our next stop was a place called the Alluvial Fan. That was a waterfall spread across a rocky surface. Oh! There were so many people there! We didn't stay long, choosing to walk through some fields and enjoy the bright yellow aspens.

After the Bear Lake road opened to vehicles at 4 PM we headed back up that road. Denise thought she'd like to see the lake in different light. By that time the sky was kind of gray, definitely different from our first visit under blue skies. We stopped a few times on the way back down just to enjoy the bright yellow leaves on the aspen. Did you know that some of the aspen wore orange leaves too? I thought the leaves always turned pure yellow - but a few scattered trees were orange.

--- Rover