Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: A Hiker's Review: Ice Lakes, Ouray, Colorado

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Hiker's Review: Ice Lakes, Ouray, Colorado

     This part of the path was not at all easy,  especially having run a good distance that morning.  My legs were burning a bit, but I was not about to slow down so close to the top.  Or so I thought.  We had a fun hand-over-hand climb to the edge of the ridge on the mountain, but then gazed in surprise.  No lake.

    The Ice Lakes were by far one of the prettiest hikes I've ever done in my life.  The hike is comprised of three lakes and the first lake is supposedly the most picturesque.  When we initially started, we figured it would be a good hard hike.  However, my mom and I weren't exactly prepared for what met us.
     Out on the trail for an hour, we'd winded our way up through some beautiful wooded areas with steep switchbacks that led us by the side of a waterfall.  After perching cautiously by the edge for some pictures we tromped on until we met a group that was descending.  Naturally, a waterfall has to come from somewhere, so I assumed that we were almost to the lower lake.  "Hmmm...I'd say you're about halfway there," the group told us.  The hike was nothing but steep, so they knowingly told us, "it's worth it.  You'll go up through a meadow and then have a steep ascent to the top.  So we hiked on.  I began to realize though-- after talking to another descending group 20 minutes later-- "you're almost halfway there" was a very relative term.  That meant that the hike was pretty long, considering they couldn't quite say if we were halfway there.
A gorgeous view a mile or so into the hike.
     That was all fine and dandy though, because I was enjoying the hike.  We crossed up out of the woods eventually and our legs got some respite as we walked a few miles along a grassy meadow.  It was really cool to walk over huge rock piles as well, which stood as evidence of a previous rock slide.  To me, it was like we were walking along some ancient land with desolate rocks and no one in sight.
     As is the case for many exciting adventures in life, we eventually came to a fork in the road.  There was a big river and there was a trail that went off to the left.  It was an absolute miracle of God that the first woman we saw that day had told us about the steep ascent, otherwise we would have gone left.  But I used my best deductive reasoning and steered us in the direction of the river and an impossibly sloped path going up the side of the mountain.  There was a gorgeous waterfall to the left of the path though, so it seemed plausible that it was flowing down from the lake just above.
I saw this awesome tree stump on
the hike up!
     I was beginning to question my judgement, but we decided to keep hiking.  This same doubtful questioning was repeated another three or four times, and I am so grateful that we talked each other into continuing every time the other one began to wonder if we were hopelessly lost.  "Just a bit further," we kept telling each other.  Finally, the extreme incline was wearing on my mom, so I went ahead over another ridge to see if this last part would lead us to the lake.  It had been almost three hours, so we would have to turn around and call it a day if the lake wasn't right ahead.  After a minute, I didn't see it, but decided to go just a bit further and saw what I'd been praying for the last couple of hours: another person!  "Is the lake up ahead?"  She smiled and said that it was right there, over a little hill.  "Oh my goodness, I was thinking we'd gone the wrong way," I excitedly told her.  "Nope, it's right there," she pointed.
     I thanked her and waved as she walked down the ridge, "Oh and will you please tell the woman down there that we are almost there.  We went the right way!"  She chuckled a little and said that she would.  I'm sure she thought I was completely ridiculous, but I was so happy that we had done it.  I'd been thinking we were about to bag the whole hike.  In the spirit of teamwork, I plopped down on a rock for some beef jerky and to wait for my mom.  It only seemed fair that we would hike the last 100 meters together.
     I anxiously awaited to see her face peer over the ridge, and when it finally did, I hopped up and practically grabbed her hand in order to quickly hike the last part to the lake.  Sure enough, we crested the small hill and there is was.  Absolutely gorgeous.  I cannot even describe how pristine and quiet it was.  To think that God made each and every thing in the universe and at some point, knelt down and crafted this little blue lake in the middle of nowhere, astounds me.
One of the stream crossings.
     We took a good amount of pictures and video of the lake and the marmots that were calmly peeking out from their burrows.  After a few minutes though, I realized it was getting very cold.  While I fearfully realized that my fingers were turning white-- I have Renaud's-- my mom realized that the light was gone.  The lake was no longer shining in her photos.  Instead, it was blotted out by big dark clouds.  Those are the kinds of things that they warn you about when hiking out in Colorado, or in any mountainous region.  Trying not to panic, we packed up out gear and headed out.  My mom gave me socks to wear on my hands, but even with four layers on top and woolen socks under my Keens, I was getting extremely cold.  We hiked for fifteen minutes before I had my little breakdown.  I started crying when I realized we would have to cross that river again (FYI- mountain streams are FREEZING!)  and I didn't know if I could do it.  Without getting too dramatic on you all, there wasn't really a choice.  So we kept hiking and I wiped my eyes and did some serious praying.
     I had read a portion in a book called Undaunted, that morning that came back to me at that moment. The author had foolishly Jeeped into the Australian rainforest with some friends, only to run out of gas and get lost in the forest at night.  Without a map, phone, or any food for a day, she eventually got to the point where she was convinced no one was going to find them and they were going to die.  Right when she was thanking God for the life she had been given, she heard a helicopter.  But she also heard a soft whisper from God: '"Remember what it like to be lost.  Remember what it is to be saved."'
     That scene was replaying in my head as my mom and I raced back down the mountain and prepared for a storm if one should hit.  We crossed the river with ease though, and I decided to toughen up and get hiking.  With my mind still on the scene I had read that morning, I began to sing and pray.  I just sang and sang.  My mom was far enough behind, and there was no one stupid enough to be ascending the mountain then.  After a few minutes, I was swept with such grief.  I believe God gave me a taste of the grief he has for his lost children.  I thought back and imagined myself stranded in the rainforest and rescued by God.  He is as desperate for us as the author was for that helicopter.  He does not just tolerate us (RELATED: Running the Race).  I began to cry.
     I cried for God, for how sad he is that his children are lost and hurting.  I cried with joy, that God loves me that much.  And I cried without any idea why I was crying.  Finally, I just raised up my hands in the middle of the Colorado wilderness and began to sing again-- so grateful that God had just touched me in that way.  Everything seemed so much different than an hour ago when I was miserable and scared to death that I would get caught in a storm in the mountains.  Now, the sun was coming out every few minutes and I was at peace that God was in the situation.  In fact, I began to laugh as I realized that there was no place I would rather be than alone with God in the face of his glorious splendor.
     I continued to sing my way down the mountain, and slowly took a deep breath when I could finally see the car.  I closed my eyes because I didn't ever want to move on from the knowledge of God's love that I had just received.  "This is a hike you won't forget,"  my mom said coming up behind me.  "Yup," I quietly answered, knowing that this hike will stay with me forever in ways that only I can treasure.

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a wonderful experience.. happy to hear that it had such a profound affect on you.. made me teary eyed! I look forward to going on this hike myself :) God bless <3