Forest Lakes

Saturday, Sept. 10, to Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011

Tarp pitched uphill from the upper of the two Forest Lakes

Lacking any pressing motivation and feeling a bit fatigued, I arrived at the East Portal trailhead west of Rollinsville at the crack of … evening. I was backpacking a short distance, so it seemed fine that I didn’t start on the trail until 4:00 pm. Originally, I had intended to camp at the Arapahoe Lakes, but it seemed the Forest Service had closed the trail to those lakes.* So, I diverted to nearby Forest Lakes. (I had told folks back at home I would be at either location.) I arrived at the upper of the two Forest Lakes by 5:45 and spent about fifteen minutes scouting a good camping spot. Lots of low lying areas were wet and swarming with bugs, but I found a well-protected, previously impacted spot on the hillside on the north side of the lake.

Forest Lakes, James Peak Wilderness

I watched trout rising on the lake as I ate dinner, but I was too tired to give chase. I was in bed by 9:00 and did not get out of the bag until 8:00 the next morning. I tried fishing both of the lakes but found that they each have shallow water extending about 20 to 30 feet from the banks. The trout were easily spooked, and I had no success.

* After my trip, I called the Boulder Ranger District office and asked about the trail to Arapahoe Lakes. It turns out the existing trail was poorly designed, caused a lot of erosion and was often muddy. The Forest Service has taken down the signage for it and obliterated the trail as best they could, but bushwacking to those lakes is still possible and allowed. I asked if it would be best to hike to the upper Forest Lake and contour over to Arapahoe Lakes. The staffer agreed and said Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado may be creating a better trail in the future.

The closed trail to Arapahoe Lakes is covered with downed timber.

The old trail to Arapahoe Lakes was covered with timber at most points visible from the trail to Forest Lakes.

Destination: Forest Lakes, James Peak Wilderness west of Rollinsville, Colo.

Distance hiked: about 7 or 8 miles round-trip

Elevation: started from East Portal trail head at 9,200 feet, camped at the upper lake at about 11,000 feet

Temperatures: high 60s during the afternoon; low of 38 degrees at night

Pack Weight: 22 pounds with food and water (took tarp, bivy bag and mosquito netting rather than tent). Pack weight was 16 pounds without food and water but including Tenkara fishing rod and gear.

Notes: I took my REI Halo 25-degree sleeping bag rather than my Jacks ‘R Better Sierra Sniveller quilt. I was glad I had the full bag because it was chilly when a breeze began to blow through the tarp at about 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning.

Photos

I brought my mosquito net but saw nary a bug where I camped. The gnats were going crazy down by the water though.

I use Esbit tablets to cook when I'm trying to reduce my pack weight.

View from the upper lake

Looking down on the lower lake
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