Shelf Lake Trail

We were lucky that our campsite this year was extremely close to the trailhead for Shelf Lake. Once we had set up a few of the essentials at camp, we set out on our hike. It was an absolutely perfect day, and it didn’t seem like the trail was too busy.

Parking at the trailhead itself. There wasn’t too many cars here today.

The trail began in the thick of the forest, with quite a few switchbacks to make for a steep start. It definitely got our heart rate going and made sure we were warmed up for the rest of the hike.

Ominous sign of what’s to come…

As is the story all over the higher elevations of Colorado right now, there’s a lot of snowmelt coming down the mountain, creating numerous streams and waterfalls that must be crossed.

Not too sure about this one…

I kept having the thought that this must be the most serene and peaceful hike that I’ve been on in Colorado. Starting out in the middle of the forest, surrounded by nothing but trees and the sound of rushing water, it felt like we were all alone in the wilderness. For the most part, we actually were, which was a welcome change from the normally bustling trails we hike in the foothills. The trail certainly wasn’t easy though, as it continued to be steep and rocky.

We finally came to a clearing at the top of a steep section, where you could look back towards where we had come from. The bottom of the valley is where Geneva Creek and our campsite are. We knew it had been steep, but it was still incredible to see how far we had climbed. This was one of the best vantage points of the day.

Once we got out of the switchbacks of the beginning, it actually felt like we were starting to make some progress towards our ultimate goal. The scenery continued to impress.

Grouping of trees growing together in the form of one huge tree. Never seen something quite like this!

There’s not much I can say that the pictures don’t say for themselves. Absolutely incredible hike!

Unfortunately, the summer snow we received in the higher elevations proved to be an impassable object once again. We reached a river that required us to take our shoes off to cross. The problem was that we needed to cross at the widest point and the water had just been snow earlier that day. Even a few steps in the near freezing water produced such a sharp, deep pain that it was just too much.

We searched for alternate routes around the water, but there just wasn’t anything that was workable. We also heard from a couple other guys coming down that even if we were able to cross the river, there was too much snow before the lake to make it anyways. We were tired and knew we had more to do back at camp, so we turned around and headed back down. I have no doubt that we’ll be back to finish this hike once the snow melts more.

I would highly recommend this hike here in a month or so, and I’ll be sure to post an update once we make it all the way to Shelf Lake!!

Camping with the Kellers in Colorado

Although we were able to procure most of the necessary camping gear last year, we only ended up going camping one time, mainly due to the lack of sleeping bags. We knew that any camping trip this year was going to require this investment, in order to keep us warm throughout the night. We spent Friday searching around for the best bang for our buck, and came home with a couple quality bags. We officially added the last piece of necessary gear to our camping set. Of course, there’s always more to get though…

As you’ll recall, we ended up stumbling upon our campsite last year due to our initial plan being shut down by a closed Guanella Pass. Since going, we’ve done a bit more research on that road (Geneva Creek Road) and discovered that there are a few really interesting trails that come off from it, Shelf Lake Trail and the Iron Fens. As our camping spot last year was close to perfect and because there was so much more to explore, we decided to head back there this year for our camping trip, and to complete at least one of these two hikes.

Absolutely perfect day for hiking and camping in the Rocky Mountains!
With all of the snow this last winter, Geneva Creek was raging

Realizing that it was Fourth of July weekend, we knew that there was going to be more people at the campsites than there was the last time we went, but upon arriving to the the Geneva Creek Road campsites, we quickly realized that we had underestimated the number of people that knew about this spot. Luckily we have a vehicle that could make it down the rougher parts of the road, and we just kept going thinking we’d find something. Unfortunately, we reached the end of the road and literally every single spot was full.

After turning around at the end of the road… It gets pretty rough by the end of it

On our way down the road, though, we passed a couple that was packing up from the night before, so we turned around and were thankfully able to snag their spot. I’m not sure what we would have done if they hadn’t left. This particular site was maybe a half mile further down the road from our spot last year, but it worked out perfectly because it was the second closest site to the Shelf Lake trailhead. We set up the tent and a unpacked a few other basic campsite essentials (cold beer).

More green this year and just as beautiful of a view!
Cold as the Rockies

Once we had the basics done at the campsite, it was time to change and head out on our long hike to Shelf Lake.

After we were nice and worn out from our hike, it was time to build the fire and set up the rest of the campsite. We wanted to make sure it was burning long before it got too cold and also to get a nice bed of coals to cook on. We weren’t blessed with much firewood at our campsite like last time, likely the result of weeks of campers before us, and the wood we brought was too big to get it started, so the two of us ventured into the forest to collect what we could find on the ground. Once we had gathered enough, Carly was able to take over and get the fire going when the wind proved too challenging for my fire-making skills. I did successfully manager to throw sticks on once it was going to make it even bigger, though.

All of that hiking and fire making had left us quite hungry, so it was time to prepare our dinner for the night. As is tradition, we brought supplies to make Carly’s foil dinners; however, utilizing the first green bell pepper from Carly’s garden made these foil dinners even more special than normal!

We had a visitor walk past our camp while we were cooking. I happened to spot the big deer out of the corner of my eye as he crossed over the road. It was a little dark and he was hard to see, but Carly tracked him down into the forest and manager to snap a picture.

He’s hard to see, but I promise he’s there!

We were so tired from all of the day’s activities and it started to get really cold, so we ate dinner and headed into the tent to get some rest. We were both hoping and praying that we had made good decisions on our sleeping bags, and that we would be warm this night.

Even though Carly was still a little cold and I was a little uncomfortable, we were both able to sleep through until the morning, only waking up once to a burst of wind, so I would say that our sleeping bags were a success. All in all, I would say our second camping trip was even more outstanding than our first, but the thing is, there’s still so much to explore in this area. We didn’t make it to the Iron Fens and on our way out, we noticed the South Park trail crosses to the other side of Geneva Creek. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be back very soon. Until then…