Diamond Lake

A beautiful, summer weekend was in the forecast for Boulder. Ryan and I decided that we would stay close to home in order to enjoy the heat, and we decided that our local Indian Peaks Wilderness would be a perfect place to spend the day. Just ~45min from home, we were excited for the simple day hike to Diamond Lake ahead of us.

Due to the close proximity to the Denver, we got an early start and made sure that we were at the Fourth of July Trailhead before 8am to ensure that we would get parking. Luckily the crowds did not seem to be that large this weekend and there was ample parking. Making sure we hat our hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen, we set out on our hike with a pep in our step.

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Seeing as how it is mid-June, snow melt was at an all-time high providing us with views of both majestic waterfalls off in the distance as well as roaring cascades of water right next to the trail. Personally, this is my favorite time of year. Born in Southern California, I’m a total water baby. Streams, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, oceans… you name it, I love it. Most of our hikes are chosen based on their proximity to water for this very reason. For whatever reason, no feeling beats kicking off your hiking boots and taking a seat next to it. I quickly become mesmerized by the sounds, smells, and sights. It’s just so.. refreshing.

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A side effect of the snow melt was that we had our fair share of stream crossings. The Forest Service does a pretty good job of putting bridges over the main crossings but there isn’t much that can be done for the seasonal flows. It sure is nice being able to trudge through it all with our waterproof hiking boots without having to watch our step. I was even able to stop momentarily to perch on a rock and enjoy the mist from one of the cascades (which was much needed, seeing as how it was already in the 80’s this morning without a cloud in the sky).

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An hour or so into our hike we must have gained a special sort of altitude because we were faced with… snow. I’m not talking about an occasional snowfield. It was the type of snow that made me regret that we didn’t have our SKIS with us. Needless to say, trudging through the snow was only fun for so long. We quickly lost sight of the “trail” and began wandering in the direction we believed the lake to be, using the occasional melted bridge as confirmation that we were headed the right way. Our waterproof hiking boots suddenly proved useless as every other step had us sinking into thigh-deep slush. Luckily the weather was so sunny and warm, it was easy enough to keep our spirits high.

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Due to the directionless wandering the last half of the hike took, you can imagine the sort of relief that we experienced when we came over the ridge and saw Diamond Lake glittering in the sunlight. I am not sure if I have seen a more enlightening scene, or a bigger smile on our faces. We practically ran to the shore and had our hammocks out of our packs and in the trees as quickly as we could. We enjoyed our lunch, a nap, and most importantly, some sunny peace and quiet in nature before we ventured back to the trailhead.

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Summertime is not quite here yet, but it sure is close. And hiking at altitudes this early sure wasn’t as simple as we thought.

“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.”
-John Kay

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