Here in the Mountains, weather and conditions are completely unpredictable. One day could be 60 degrees and sunny, and the next its dumping snow. That is just what happens when you live at almost 9,000 feet. With this varying weather comes hiking surprises.
In early July I went on a hike to Hope Lake. I had done this hike the summer before and it was great. The water was crystal clear, the flowers were blooming and I expected about the same sight this time around. But I could not be more wrong. The beginning was about the same, with the dense forest and calming sound of the river. Once we started getting above tree line, the scenery was remarkably different than I remembered. First, there was barely any wild flowers. Then, we had to walk on quite a lot of snow on the small slope that leads to the lake, even though I had begun to break a sweat! And the biggest shock was that the lake was covered in ice! There were huge chunks floating all over the water.
These things didn’t spoil the hike, they were just so unexpected. Of course, it didn’t stop me from my jumping in, being a mountain babe and all those hiking traditions I have.
Here’s how it went down. First, I gingerly stepped onto the ice a bit to see how solid the coverage really was, and sure enough, I could stand on it without falling through. And while I was there I couldn’t help myself but do a Mountain Babe* photo. Then my friends and I played the “I’ll do it if you do it” game, and eventually decided we would take the leap in to the water. Well, it wasn’t really a leap because you can’t jump on ice, but we found an opening in the ice, and slid in between the bergs. I think it was the coldest water I have ever swam in, well again not swimming, just a quick in and out. But still the cold water gave me such a rush, and even though I was shivering for hours after, I don’t regret it.
*Mountain Babe: when a girl reaches the top of her hike, she takes a picture with her back to the camera, and no shirt on. It is fun because people can see she is topless, but they can’t actually see anything.
Now, in mid-August, the hike and the lake has made a huge transformation. The wild flowers are blooming like crazy for one. You could skip through the field and feel like you are in a staged movie it’s so pretty. Then the lake, is unrecognizable from the month before. It is a beautiful blue, surrounded by luscious greenery. The lake is still cold, but at least there is no ice to avoid during your refreshing dip!
So with only a month’s difference, this trek seems like two completely different hikes. But both times the views were absolutely stunning and completely worth doing.