Blue Lakes, Mount Sneffels Wilderness

The crisp, frosty nights in the San Juans have brought a close to the summer. The vibrant yellows of the Aspen trees and dark reds of the scrub are oak are gently falling to the ground, repeating the unstopable circle of life and death. This summer I had hoped to make a backpacking trip to Blue Lakes, my favorite location in Colorado. A busy workshop schedule in the Tetons kept from doing this trip though. I've been trying to hike more often to keep in shape, so this fall I decided to give this hike a try as a quick day trip. An easy task for many, but still a challenge for me.

Trip Stats (one way):
4 miles
2,300 ft vertical gain

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 38.03465, -107.80724 end of CR7 outside of Ridgway, CO

My destination was a viewpoint just above the first lake, I would have gone farther but I started the hike lake and needed to get back before dark. The hike was pleasant on this calm, bluebird sky, fall day. At 10k ft the sun can be felt heating your skin even on a cool fall afternoon, the hike starts off steep and the sweat was seeping out of my pores. As I climbed higher and the sun became blocked by the dense forest and I was quickly chilled, the sweat now has an extreme cooling effect. I changed into a dry long sleeved shirt and continued my climb.

Wilderness feel like home more than anywhere else, unspoiled and most importantly, real.

Wilderness feel like home more than anywhere else, unspoiled and most importantly, real.

The root covered trail in dense forest

The root covered trail in dense forest

Snow in October is not unusual

Snow in October is not unusual

Hiking is a funny thing, you have the perception that it is always a challenge. When I started hiking, a half mile hike was extremely challenging, an 8 mile hike wasn't even in the realm of possibility. Now I continually push myself to go on longer and steeper hikes all the time, that's where the perception comes in. A half mile hike would seem like nothing now, but because I keep challenging myself to do more I wouldn't even consider that a 'hike'. This is an important metaphor for life, if I only did that half mile hike every time it would only become slightly easier over time. When we instead go outside of our comfort zone continually, we grow exponentially. We must take massive risks to grow, don't take the safe route, take the one that scares you to death. When you stop doing this, you have stopped living.

A necessary log crossing to continue up the pass

A necessary log crossing to continue up the pass

Blue Lakes is one of the most stunning scenes in Colorado. During the summer the hills are covered in a variety of wildflowers, with surreal turqouise alpine lakes below. When the sun is hitting the water, the light is distorted from the glacial rock flour that is suspended in the water, only reflecting certain wavelengths of light, a jaw dropping experience. As if this were not enough, the lake is surrounded by massive dramatic peaks. Pictures do not do this scene justice, you must experience in person and be awestruck.

A dramatic view above the first lake from a previous backpacking trip, a few steps from our camp.

A stunning view from Blue Lakes Pass where you can see all 3 lakes.

If you're interested in experiencing and photographing this incredible location with an experienced guide, join us in 2015 where I will be leading a very small group to spend 2 nights in the wilderness, surely to be a life changing experience. Exploring Exposure Photography Tour: Backpacking to Blue Lakes.