Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ice Lakes Basin - Part 1

"Epic Adventure" 2014

Ice Lakes Basin, San Juan Mountains, Colorado 28-29 August 2014 

Golden Horn, Vermillion Peak, US Grant Peak

From "Secret" shortcut parking area

Every year for the last 4 years Scott and I have embarked on an "Epic Adventure" in the summer. This usually (always) involves climbing mountains in the San Juan area- since it's the best. This year we decided to go after some 13ers near Ice Lake, since it looked so appealing. Being who we are, we couldn't just go somewhere for enjoyment, we had to have a mission. So our mission was to climb Golden Horn and Vermillion Peak, and see what else we felt motivated to climb.

Cool waterfall right at the start

Why so serious?

Looking down from the hidden waterfall
It only takes a couple minutes to traverse the "Shortcut" trail, and it seems to cut off some considerable elevation gain. While the missed trail I'm sure is nice, most of the beauty of this route happens above the junction. I will say that this trail is excellent from start to finish in terms of views.

Another Waterfall
I love the black-stained rock you sometimes see in this area

This is certainly Handies Peak

In the lower basin area, working our way up to those mountains. Vermillion and Golden Horn are visible.

Another cool waterfall in a narrow rock gulch

Sideways waterfall

Looking out over the lower Ice Lake basin. San Juans at their finest.

Upper Ice Lake Basin

Vermillion is directly in the middle, Golden Horn hidden at the right.

Ice Lake

"The Feast" Subway Sandwhich, Mouse's Chocolates Scrap Cookie, and Maui Coconut Porter

So good
The water really does look like this, due to white minerals in the water.
The water calmed down a little for a more pronounced reflection. The lighting wasn't right though.
I like the contrail
It was cool and breezy enough that capturing the beauty of the Ice blue lake in stillness was nearly impossible. No crystal clear reflections would grace us this day.

That's our little slice of nirvana
The sun brushes the tips of the mountains as it retreats for the day

A palette of pastel hues electrify the crags

Scott and I stayed up until 10PM to shoot pictures of the stars. I hauled a cheap tripod up the mountain to go with my DX format DSLR camera. This time I had a remote release, although I think my star photos didn't really turn out. It was a fun experience. It was a small crecent moon and we waited for moonset before going out. It was very, very dark, and the visual humming of the stars sparkling in the sky reminded me of crikets in the summer. So quiet and peaceful, with a million stars winking down at us. A peaceful and awe-inspiring end to a day with so much to offer, and the promise of more to come in the morning.

Milky Way

Milky way over the mountains

So many stars
The vastness of the Universe unfolded above us in this desolate place. Pinpoints of light, piercing the veil of infinite darkness. So far from the humming and thrumming of the civilized world, unaware of such wonders. Clinging to the cold, dark side of a massive rock spinning through space and time, I was filled with wonder. Such amazing things exist, but hidden from view; to be a part of such a journey felt like a privilege.


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