Lily Lake and An Attempt at Jurassic Park (Estes Park, CO)

In the Moab post, I mentioned that I’ve recently started rock climbing to share in my boyfriend’s hobby. He’s addicted to it, and for his birthday I renewed his climbing gym membership and got me one too. Goodbye paycheck. But it’s so much fun!! My muscles hurt in ways they never have with yoga, running, dancing, soccer, or anything else I’ve attempted for exercise! However, he is not an indoor climber. He loves hiking up to giant cliff faces and staring at rock walls for a while. I’m slowly starting to be able to see what he sees, though it’s still funny to watch him scamper around pointing at stones.

img_4952Fort Collins is experiencing a weird winter this year, with cold fronts descending overnight after a week of 45-50 degree weather to freeze everything for a couple of days before melting back into those nicer temperatures. Last weekend was going to be one of those awesome sunny 55 degree days and I suggested getting outside to climb. He was excited and picked a place he saw off of his REI catalog near Estes Park. [Also, REI, you are a marketing genius for that]. So off we went on Sunday to drive up the canyons to Estes.

 
Lily Lake is on its way out of Estes on HWY 7 and is impossible to miss. There’s a trailhead before the lake for Lily Mountain which is apparently a really pretty hiking trail but there’s a parking lot on either side of the road for the Lily Lake Trailhead. I always seem to forget that the forecast for Fort Collins will not be the same once we get into the mountains, even after living in the state since 3rd grade I still forget.

The trail was snowy, but half melted for most of the first part. It was when we went off the regular trail to follow the Lily Ridge Trail where we ended up exploring the wilderness. Some spots had our feet dropping through the snow to our knees, other spots the rocks were right under a tiny layer of snow. We found ourselves back tracking to try and get to the Jurassic Park area for climbing. Once we got there, it was really exciting. So many interesting and fun looking routes to climb, all with a layer of snow at the base and a decent wind curling around the cliff faces. The wind would settle and kick back up with force, making the stone really cold.

With slight disappointment the boyfriend decided it wasn’t good conditions for climbing The Edge of Time, a route that was right in the wind path, we took a break to set up the hammock and have a quick lunch and enjoy the view. Our route back down was significantly faster, and an entirely different way than the one we came up. Moral of the story, don’t let the boyfriend lead when the trail isn’t visible. Unless you want a long winding adventure through the wilderness.

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