What started as a trip to explore golden aspens turning into another 14er hike. The timing was perfect to enjoy the changing colors of the trees, but a dry fall had yet to blanket the mountains with their first snowfall. The warm weather made for great late-season hiking and tackling the trail up to Sneffels from the East Dallas Creek was just the reward for Penny after waiting patiently by my camera’s tripod for landscape shots. Few things gave me as much pause as passing the emerald alpine lakes of Lower and Upper Blue Lakes. Seen from above, their clarity allows one to see every rocky feature on the lakebed.
Approaching from the west side, the most direct route up the summit involves a class three scramble up a ridge. Unfortunately, I did not have a detailed route description with me, but tried to navigate as best as I could on my own. We were only hampered a handful of times and eventually reached the summit, the load lightened by a lost lens cap that was not worth retrieving several hundred feet below. The standard route down was a little easier to navigate, but loose scree made the descent unstable. Despite being surrounded by alpine beauty, I can be removed from the serenity by the actions of others. A can of soup, opened but unfinished, lay by trail. Cleaning up somebody’s mess allowed us to descend towards the spectacle of sunset over the Upper Blue Lake, its emerald color replaced with reflections of clouds on fire. Returning to the trailhead by moonlight finished off a long but rewarding hike.