Friday, August 21, 2015

The Headwaters of the Colorado River

Aug 17th- continued- After hiking back to the Alpine Visitors Center, we stopped to regroup and decide what we wanted to do next. In looking at the map we noticed that further down the road was a point marked on the map as the Colorado River Trailhead, with a trail that paralleled the Colorado River. In our day hiking guide, this hike was labeled the hike to Lulu City, an old mining camp along the trail.

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To hike the trail to the end would be  7.4 miles out and back on a trail that was ‘moderately easy’. We did not have the time to hike the whole trail, but noted that just about .6 miles  down the trail it joined the Red Mountain Trail and crossed over the river at that point. As the map above shows, this is the headwaters of the mighty Colorado River, which has its source just 5 miles north in the springs and snowmelt of the Rocky Mountains. In our National park information, the source of the Colorado River is accepted to be at La Poudre Pass. In Colin Fletcher’s book ‘Source to Sea’ - where Colin Fletcher details his journey following, then rafting, the entirety of the Colorado River – the source was in dispute. At that time, Colin Fletcher chose to see the source of the Colorado River to be the left hand branch of the river.


We decided too hike out to see the Colorado River. 


Drawn by our experience of rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon last year, and, of course, Colin Fletcher’s book,  we were intrigued at seeing the headwaters (the beginning) of this river.


Snow melt and springs, and many more creeks and rivers feed into the Colorado as it journeys to its final terminus in Mexico, at the Gulf of California. It is hard to believe that the same river that carved the Grand Canyon…….the very same river that rolled and crashed over such rapids as Lava Falls – could have its start as this tiny creek!


Though not a ‘full circle’ moment, as we have not seen the terminus of the Colorado River, it was exciting for us to dip our hands in the very same waters that we had rafted just 1 year ago.

After leaving the river behind, we walked a ways up the trail towards Lulu City, just enough for me to feel that I had walked the same trail that Colin Fletcher had walked!  If we come back to Rocky Mt NP, I would love to hike this entire hike…….

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