Thursday, January 10, 2008

Boss Lake

Journal Entry Thirteen: Boss Lake
This particular summer, Jazz and I decided to really focus on finding new hikes in the valley. It was interesting to see that even though we have ardently hiked this area for at least seven years, we found new hikes for us. We find it exciting and invigorating to be on an adventure that brings a slight element of danger and challenge. When I say danger, I mean, hiking in the mountains, you must know and follow the rules. There are a lot of vacationers who come to the mountains in the summer and think that they know what they are doing. We had this year, five deaths rafting on the Arkansas River itself. The rafting companies are really safe, but the river and the mountains themselves demand a certain amount of respect. When it comes to a battle of man vs. nature, the mountains will win every time. There are certain rules we learn when taking hikes. Take plenty of water, know how to put your jeep into four wheel drive-low, stay with your partners, don’t split apart, eat protein for long lasting energy, tell someone where you are going, take rain gear, take out what you take in, pack a first aid kit, a compass, a bear whistle, tissue, baggies, a kerchief, wear a hat and apply sunscreen.
Another important item to remember and be aware of while hiking in the high country is to start early in the morning. July and August are called the “monsoon” season. We usually have bright, blue sunny days in the morning until noon. Then the clouds move in and we have rain and most impressively, lightening. A hiker must take the lightening seriously, especially if you are above ten thousand feet on a mountain. I have had the old timers say that lightening will literally chase you. When you are above the tree line, the line in altitude where the tall trees do not have enough oxygen to continue to grow tall, a person then becomes the tallest thing between the ground and the sky. Therefore, people are prime targets to being struck by major bolts of lightening. A lot of vacationers who are new to the area do not realize and appreciate the danger here. We have several tourists who have been struck and killed or seriously hurt. This is why a hiker must learn to respect the mountains and the natural occurrences there.
Boss Lake is located just below Monarch Pass outside of Salida. Traveling from Salida, you take US Hwy 50 west toward Monarch Pass. At approximately mile thirteen, turn right on to Forest Road 230. Forest Road is on your right across from the Monarch Ski Lodge. Follow Forest Road 230 about 1.5 miles to the trailhead of Boss Lake.
The trail map describes this road as being “a very technical 4WD” road. Very technical for Jazz and I is fantastically enticing. Our male testosterone starts to rise, as between the two of us we figure out how to put the jeep into that 4WD low we needed to safely navigate this rocky uphill logging trail.
Having a vehicle that even will go into 4WD low is a necessity in the Rocky Mountains. My jeep is a dark evergreen color; with my signature white Lady Bug on the fender. Jazz, on the other hand, is the proud owner of a Lexus SUV. It is Iridium silver in color and looks like it only belongs on straight, conservative, city streets. I laugh every time I see her driving in it. It is the only symbol of conservatism she owns. She looks very out of place driving it. Sometimes she does take it on our hiking excursions, only when there are too many people to smash into my small Jeep Wrangler. She always reminds us that her Lexus was car of the year for SUV’s when she bought it and she actually is very adept at maneuvering over boulders and rocky cliffs. The only thing she asks is, after hiking on the rain created muddy trails that we gingerly place our feet/boots/sandals into plastic grocery bags; which she very considerately supplies for us out of no where. If we are ever stopped by the police and asked to exit the car immediately, the cop will see at least four sets of plastic Kroger grocery bags stepping out of all front and side doors accompanied by our tired hiking bodies. I need to make sure Jazz does not do anything crazy with her driving while we are in our post-hiking attire.

Our small one mile trek deposits us at the trailhead of Boss Lake where we then start hiking. This hike is mostly an uphill climb, ascending from 10,400ft. and ending at the lake at 11,520ft.
Another good thing about this hike, is, it is only about one mile on this trail. Boss Lake sits snuggled under the edge of Monarch Pass. A man was fishing at the spillway when we arrived and caught a three or four pound cutthroat trout.
He said that was his first cast of the day and he was using a silver spinner for those fishermen who are reading. This lake has been chosen to replenish the native green back trout and of course is catch and release only.

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