Sunday, July 6, 2008

Grand Lake, Colorado, Revisited

We towed the Airstream back up to the Stillwater Campground for the second visit this season. The weather was much warmer on this trip, and, fortunately we did not have to deal with snow this time.  We also tried something new and rented a pontoon boat at Shadow Mountain Lake. We had a great time boating across the water until the sky clouded up like the Apocalypse.

We began to see lightning and to hear thunder in the distance and quickly realized that sitting in the middle of the lake could be very dangerous. We were looking forward to a BBQ back at camp later in the day, but with one lightning strike, we could be the BBQ on the boat. So we hightailed it back to the dock and found out that pontoon boats sometimes don't move quite as fast as you would like them to. Fortunately we got back without incident, but I think I'll check the weather report a little more closely before heading out on the water next time.

The next day I biked into Grand Lake for some vigorous, high altitude exercise. Actually, it was a fairly level and easy bike ride, but at 8000+ feet any outdoor activity will get your heart pumping. Later in the day I rewarded myself to a soak and a massage at Hot Sulphur Springs about 20 minutes away. I sure slept well that night!

Each time we visit this area, we notice the further progression and devastation of the Pine Bark Beetle. There are more and more dead trees covering the mountainsides. Since posting this entry, they have literally removed all the pine trees from the Stillwater Campground. What used to be a shady campground where you could nestle in among the trees is now completely barren. It is a sad sight to see, especially knowing that they will never grow back in our lifetime, and it underscores how important it is to care for these fragile and irreplaceable natural resources.

On the way home we passed through scenic Clear Creek Canyon (Hwy 6). If you are in the area be sure to take this worthwhile detour off the interstate. There are plenty of places to pull off of the road for a picnic or a short rest alongside the cool waters.