This summer, Zach and Jenn (one of my best friends) and I had a conversation that went something like this:Jenn: "Paddleboarding! So much fun!"
Me: "Let's go soon!"
Zach: "We should! But little town lake is so boring."
Jenn: "I wish we lived closer to the ocean. We should do something cool."
Me: "Like Ptarmigan?"
Me: "No, really! Let's do it - that would be SO epic!"
Let me explain. Jenn is one of my favorite people, and works for Colorado Kayak Supply, the nation's awesomest purveyor of kayaks, paddleboards, and rafting gear. Paddleboarding, also called stand-up paddling or SUP, is one of my new favorite things ever. Ptarmigan Lake is one of my favorite high alpine lakes in the Collegiate Peaks - gorgeous scenery, fresh air, columbines and wildflowers everywhere, crystal clear water....oh yeah, and it sits at just over 12,000 feet, reachable either by a 6 or 7 mile hike (coming from one direction) or an hour or so of 4-wheeling and then a 1-2 mile hike (coming from the other direction). There are usually patches of snow year-round and frequently nobody else for miles and miles. What a recipe for awesomeness.
It was a gorgeous summer day in the mountains. So, we grabbed our boards, Jenn's daughter, and my three-legged dog, and headed up the back way, figuring we'd 4-wheel up most of the way and then hike the boards in just that last mile or two.
This is where we parked, inflated the boards, and started to hike in. What a view!
Not gonna lie, we got tired. The hike from the 4-wheel trail is really not that bad, but between the altitude (we're above timberline) and carrying the paddles and boards over our heads up the trail... we stopped frequently to catch our breath. Haha.
See our little truck in the distance?
Jenn and I, wondering what the hell we were thinking.
Then... we got there, and it was absolutely, totally worth it. Look at this place! Can you see why it's one of my favorite alpine lakes? Mt. Yale is in the background.
Let the awesomeness begin. While the rest of us were getting ready, Isabell geared up, beat us all to it, and jumped right in.
The water level there makes it feel like an infinity pool, looking out over the mountains. Plus, Ptarmigan Lake is a popular fishing spot, and the water is so clear that you can see large fish swimming below you :)
Jenn and Isabell and I napping in the middle of the lake :)
I have literally had dreams about this day... several times. We checked with some friends at CKS, and they hadn't heard of anyone SUPing Ptarmigan before, so I think we have a first ascent? Well, technically, Izzy does :) The next time we were back home in Buena Vista, we grabbed some more friends and headed up to Hancock Lake - another gorgeous alpine lake around 12,000 feet, but with much less hiking required. You can essentially 4-wheel right up to the water. Unfortunately it was a little chilly and grayer than our day at Ptarmigan, but still absolutely worth the adventure!
Stand up paddling is fun and mellow and so relaxing, and SUPing through high alpine lakes is surreal and makes you feel like you're floating through the sky and the mountains at the same time. As soon as the high lakes thaw in June-ish, we'll be right back up. Wanna come with us? Just get in touch! We know those back roads inside and out, and Jenn, Izzy, Zach and I all promise to take good care of you :)
I shot a bit of video during these two trips and hope to have a chance to put something together soon.
Happy New Year and fingers crossed for an early spring! Yay for Colorado adventures and thanks to our friends at CKS for the boards and paddles!