As hiking enthusiasts, there was no way we were going to pass up on the opportunity to hike the trails of the Rocky Mountain Range --the problem was deciding which one to do in such a limited amount of time! We settled on the Ice Lake Trail (map and GPS coordinates: N37 48.630, W107 46.588), mostly because of its proximity to the lodge we were staying at. It was a great decision: we found waterfalls, real trees, real lakes --all the things we can't really find in Tucson!
Before heading to the trail, we stopped off at Molas Pass, where there is an absolutely beautiful view point of miles and miles of forest.
We also had to pit stop at the old-fashioned town of Silverton. Silverton is situated where Hwy 550 (the Million Dollar Highway) splits into multiple roads.
And off we go to the Ice Lake Trail! The road to this trail head is unpaved but manageable for a... Honda Civic. You go much faster in a Jeep Wrangler though. :D
After we parked, we followed the road on foot. After being passed by a few vehicles half a mile in, husband started to think we were going the wrong way. So we headed back --which is a good thing! We found the real trail head --no signs, but it was very obvious, right where the GPS said it was supposed to be! Durrr.... From the trail head, the hike to Upper Ice Lake is 8.4 KM (5.2 miles). With our back tracking, we ended up hiking 10.5 KM. Oops.
"I think we're going the wrong way..."
We had been so busy trying to find a spot to park near the trail head that we hiked on past it because we weren't paying attention. It's a good thing we backtracked! We would've missed out on this:
This waterfall is very close to the trail head.
We came across a few overnight backpackers who were "showering" (dunking their heads) here.
Small pond where the waterfall empties into.
We don't have these glorious Aspen trees in Tucson...
An abandoned cabin along the way.
Short resting point.
This trail is strenuous and is pretty much uphill the entire way, except for a stint near Lower Ice Lake.
Lower Ice Lake
Lower Ice Lake in the distance
After this point (2nd major waterfall on this trail out of 3 waterfalls), the elevation is steeper and the trail has plenty of loose rocks.
And at this point, it got MUCH, MUCH colder. Then it started raining, hailing, and the winds got much stronger...
Neither of us had jackets (which EVERYONE we passed on the trail had) and I was in shorts. At some point I wanted to huddle under a shrub and wait (or freeze) but we were at the point of no-going-back! And so, with the hail bouncing off our cold bodies, we trekked on! Note to self: if the trail name has the word ICE (ICE Lake Trail) in it, bring warmer clothes....
And the view was worth it! The lake was an amazingly bright teal color.
We didn't tarry here long. Since we were no longer straining to hike up, the wind, rain, and hail got REALLY cold so we took a few photos, tested the water (freezing BTW), had a few Cliff bars then started the descent back down.
A thumbs up to the descent being a million times easier --and less rainy/cold! =P
Check out all those switchbacks!
Finally back at the first waterfall!
Later that evening we explored downtown Durango, a very cute town but very crowded. We opted for dinner at the Golden Triangle for Phad Thai.
When the waitress brought us a check, she also brought us cotton candy... Which to us, seemed so random we thought it was a duster... It was just bizarre. My sweet tooth overcame the weirdness and I tested it out. Definitely cotton candy. Which is a good thing because I don't like dusting but I do love cotton candy!!
Stay tuned for the next post of our Southern CO / Northern AZ road trip!
Ice Lakes Trail
Miles: 8.2 Miles Out & Back
Skill Level: Strenuous
Elevation Gain: 2,552
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