This past weekend we hiked into Clayton Lake in the James Peak Wilderness area with our friends, Jim and Susan. James Peak is one of the newest wilderness areas in Colorado. In fact, we didn’t even know it was an official wilderness until we got there. Jim had been to Clayton Lake before, and since it is pretty conviently located just southwest of Nederland, we thought it would make for a good group hike.
Well, Jim neglected to mention that he didn’t remember exactly how to get to the lake, and that he was relying on his memory to point out landmarks along the trail. We ended up scaling directly up the drainage on what started out as a pretty steep trail, but ended up as basically a vertical rock climb. In fact, there were times where it was so steep and rocky, not only did we have to take off our packs and bucket-brigade them up the hill, we actually had to lift our dogs up over some of the pitches. Keep in mind these are full size retrievers we’re talking about here. Astonishingly, when we hiked out, the path we chose was even worse!
At least it’s a pretty lake. We found a nice little campsite on somewhat of an island between two feeder streams uphill of the lake. We went off for a little day hike on Saturday afternoon, but unfortunately the clouds started rolling in. We were high enough in elevation that we were smothered. You could hardly see 50 yards at times. The pictures will give you a pretty good idea of what we’re talking about.