All about Aspen

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Every now and then you need to devote a weekend to your K9 companion and this was IMG_4298
the weekend Aspen took charge, literally. Saturday was off to the usual start, except that it began a little later than the typical 6AM wake up call. Though Aspen is 12 years young, she has always been referred to as a puppy as if she were still 2 years old.

The Colorado River Trail out of Grand Lake is a fairly easy trek as it winds through a pine forest that has been decimated by the mountain pine beetle. The trail itself is prime habitat for moose as there are several ponds covered in lily pads and marsh areas providing an ample food source for these giant and magnificent animals.

Aspen looks forward to swimming the river here. Sadly though, the spring runoff only allowed her to dip her toes into the cool mountain water that day. After spending a bit of time in and out of the water, we began our trek back out. We were just about to exit the trail when we ran into an individual with a golden retriever as well. She asked if we had seen the bear. In my mind, I was thinking about the carved wooden bear a bit up the trail. Instead, she was referring to black bear that crossed the road just prior to entering the trail head parking area a few moments earlier. Nope!

Sunday we headed to the Monarch Lake trail. The trail itself is not difficult, and takes you into a place of tranquility. After hawking for a parking spot and securing Aspen to her leash we were off. The trailhead provides access into the Indian Peaks Wilderness, which can be reached by multiple routes. Typically we head out on the eastern shore and today was no different expect for the fact that I Aspen didn’t want to hike – she just wanted to jump into the lake.

Making it to the creek, Aspen quickly made haste and headed directly into the water. At this point, we began the first of three or four relatively easy climbs around the 4.5 mile loop. The climb bring us to a bridge crossing the Buchanan Creek.Β The trail continues to loop back towards Arapahoe Creek through an old growth pine forest. It is here where you take a deep breath and smell the scent of pine all about you.

We make our way back towards the Arapahoe Creek and another opportunity for Aspen to cool down, but to Aspen puzzlement, a horse appears carrying a large pack. Confused and wanting nothing to do with the equine standing between her and the creek, she continues on to the waters edge. The last leg of the hike took us along the western shore and across two separate sets of waterfalls before crossing the dam that creates the lake and back to to the trail head. Below the dam is where you’ll find several fly fishing opportunities to catch the elusive and native cut throat trout.

All in all it was another fantastic weekend. In addition to the hiking, Aspen was able to live up to her retriever name and spend both Saturday and Sunday afternoon swimming in Shadow Mountain Lake retrieving her water ball. Additionally Stella and I were able to paddle about in “The Big Mango” aimlessly for an hour or so taking views from the lakes edge.

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