On that shelf are several hidden lakes: Blue Lake, Green Lake (with Italy Lake just behind it), and Frozen Lake. Also on a separate little shelf in that gorge is Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake. Shelf and Solitude lakes are not as far back as the former lakes mentioned. Ever since I climbed Long's Peak and looked through the Keyhole down into this gorge seeing all of these little lakes, it has been my dream to find them!
Looking down on the gorge from the Keyhole
View of the shelf from Shelf Lake
Last summer of 2010 Rollin and I found Shelf Lake and Solitude Lake. They were so beautiful!!
So this summer, we wanted to find the rest. The way to find these lakes is to hike to Mills Lake and then continue on for 2.2 miles to Black Lake. Once reaching Black you are at the foot of this shelf. The Shelf pretty much encircles Black Lake, except for on the left side (east side) there is a valley in which a waterfall flows. You can follow a trail and climb up this valley to get onto the shelf, which we did. Once we got up onto the shelf I was blown away. The shelf was huge, everything was farther away than it seemed.
Getting above Black Lake
Things are farther than they seem
Our first destination was Blue Lake. It took us quite a while to find Blue Lake...things were farther than it seemed. Finally we found Blue Lake. We stayed a few minutes and then set off for Green Lake.
Leaving Blue Lake and headed for Green Lake which is on a shelf to the left of the Spearhead (large rock formation in the center of the picture)
At this point I was feeling discouraged. The shelf was huge, I didn't know if I had the mental and physical strength to climb to the rest of them. The distance between Green Lake and Blue Lake was at least a mile, and the terrain was very difficult to hike through which made it take a long time to get to Green Lake. By the time we made it to Green Lake (and Italy Lake) it was almost 11AM. For some reason I started to get anxious. As much as I LOVE hiking in unknown territory that few people explore, it also TERRIFIES ME! You're completely isolated here. Something about that scares me so much. So as much as I wanted to find these lakes and explore up here, the intensity was almost more than I could bear. I was also anxious about going back down to Black Lake. Since it took a long time to get up and around back here, I knew it would take a while to get down, which made me very anxious.
At Green Lake I had a little bit of a cry-fest. Rollin was so good to me and caring. Rollin keeps me going. He gently nudged me on toward Frozen Lake. Without him, I would have turned back at this point. We set off for Frozen Lake, it was a bit of a climb. Every 5 minutes until we reached Frozen Lake I was saying "I want to go down now." But we made it to Frozen Lake, unfortunately I was feeling quite anxious and had trouble really enjoying the lake. But I did it! With Rollin's help and encouragement we found all of those lakes!
Frozen Lake Looking north toward the Mummy Range!
Then we started heading down. Again, the terrain was pretty difficult and made it slower going down since there was no trail. But finally we saw cairns and followed them and found a TRAIL!!!! All my anxiety left. How ironic. It's the lack of a trail that made me so anxious, yet I love exploring territory that is not climbed very often. We followed the trail down to Black Lake and I was fine.
Found the trail!
Phew. But wait. I'm still anxious. Long's Peak. July 31st. A Sunday. My dad wants to climb Long's Peak, or at least make it to the top of the trough. If he makes it that far, I'm pulling him up the rest of the way. Rollin's never climbed Long's Peak. I want both of them to summit. But Long's Peak terrifies me!!! It's quite ironic, because I've climbed Long's 3 times without any difficulty, one time I even made it to the summit BY MYSELF! For some reason, I'm scared. I'm scared of falling. I know there's a 1 in 20,000 chance of falling and dying. But for some reason I'm anxious about it.
The summit of Long's Peak
When I was talking to the Lord about this I heard him saying "Rachel, have you forgotten that I AM? Have you forgotten that I am the LORD and there is no other." He's right. I have to trust him. This climb to Long's Peak is much more than a mental or physical journey, but even a spiritual journey of trusting the Lord. If He wills, we will make it. And He will protect us!
My first summit on Long's Peak in 2007