Living in the mountains is quite an experience, but it is no substitute for spending time deep in the wilderness. Spring is a time of rapid change, and each week new shoots and flowers can be found (in my own yard, the seeds I've sown are beginning to germinate and sprout).
One nearby trail begins with a steep ascent through relatively heavy tree cover, which follows an old jeep trail. Moist ground and protection from intense sunlight allows some plants to thrive.
Oregon grape is quite distinctive and can often be found alongside wild strawberries in the leaf litter. Its purple berries are sometimes used in jams, and the crushed plant has been used for healing of wounds, although some sources suggest it can be poisonous in large doses.
The tree cover fades to give views of the valley floor below. Lupines and gooseberry bushes flourish on the exposed hillside, but the view is soon left behind as the trail follows a bend into a huge aspen stand, where fungi can be found in abundance later in the summer.
The trail is unrelentingly steep, but the natural world has a way of providing incredible sights an smells at every turn. Creeping junipers add fragrance to the forest, while translucent young aspen leaves shimmer in the sunlight.
Barren, rocky slopes are a sure sign that the end of the trail is nearby. After a final ascent, a collapsing cabin marks draws the visitor to an idyllic lake. Sheltered by tall trees and a nearby peak, the 12,000ft high lake is still partially covered in ice, while patches of snow are scattered between nearby trees.
Videos of the lake can be found here
It is a perfect place to spend an afternoon in the Uncompaghre Wilderness. You can view several more images of the lake and the trail in my gallery