Bierstadt Lake, and trail

Bierstadt Lake, and trail

I awoke at 3:30 and scampered over to the doorway to check the skies – clear and starry.  So, I got everything together and headed out to the trailhead for Bierstadt Lake, where I was on the trail by 4:30.  The maps say that it is a 1.5 mile hike up to the lake, with another 0.3 miles to get to the east side of the lake, where you can connect with a trail going down to the Park and Ride.  The main part of the trail up to the lake, though, is actually only 1.2 miles, with a 556 foot elevation gain.  I contemplated hiking down to the Park & Ride when I was done, but once I got a look of the trail – what I could see in the darkness – I was intrigued by the opportunities. 

As I got higher, I could see better, although it was still mostly dark, and appreciate the possibility for great views and photos of the aspen grove covering the slope.  I decided to come back the same way I came to see the photo potential in daylight.  I got to the far side of the lake with plenty of time, so I set up my camera, did a couple of test shots, then sat down to enjoy a PBJ and banana. 

The view from this end of Bierstadt Lake is pretty much similar to that on the east side of Sprage Lake – the peaks and mountains that are the signature of this end of the Bear Lake valley, and part of the Continental Divide, lay out before in a similar view.  There are rocks and reeds available in the foreground, much like Sprague, to balance out the composition.  There were some nice clouds in the sky that should have provided some brilliant pre-sunrise pinks, but the band of clouds to the east interfered somewhat.  After finishing up the first light photos, I headed back down the trail.  I would not linger at the lake like I did at Sprague – I wanted to explore that trail.

And what a view from that trail there is.  From what I have seen so far, it offers the best views of the valley and Continental Divide of any of the lake trails along the Bear Lake Road.  Among the aspens, there were also several types of wildflowers, offering additional photo material.  Long’s Peak stands out nice and clear, a monolith to the south, and can be photographed standing alone or framed among the various trees.  But the thing that really struck me is how brilliant of a spot this would be to capture first light in the autumn.  To heck with going all the way to the lake, I wanted to see this view in the fall, when first light struck the aspens, which dominate the slopes on the right side of the road, countering the dark green of the pines on the other side. 

I was back to the trailhead by 7:30, having never seen another person on the trail or at the lake.  There was another car parked there when I arrived – and still remained – but I suspected the owner was at a backcountry camp site.  I am not sure what I am doing this evening.  I am hoping that the clouds thicken so I can photograph a few spots where I have been saving for shooting in cloudy, overcast light. 

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