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trailheadBrit joined us up in Vail last night.  That means a new hiking partner.  And Brit’s not afraid to take on the big ones.  We launch from the trailhead to Booth Lake by 8am.  This trail is easily the most recommended by the Concierge based on the conversations I overhear as I walk by.  And the trail guide suggests it’s a favorite of tourists.  Fit tourists anyway.  This puppy rises 3000 feet in four miles.

aspen and rockThe trail begins its steady 4.5 mile rise through old growth Aspen.  There is one other lone hiker who parks alongside us at the trailhead.  He starts out about five minutes ahead of us.  Brit quickly finds a rock.  We both agree it has a certain “Pride Rock” quality.  We encounter a trio of hikers descending.  They ask us if we are headed to the lake or just the falls – which are only about two miles up.  We respond with the lake and they say it’s well worth it.  Brittany leads most of the hike and holds a 29 minute pace the first mile.  The girl is in shape.  My legs have yet to recover from yesterday and I find myself struggling to keep pace.

treeThe Aspen yield to thick Spruce after an hour of hiking.  Brit finds this uprooted tree pretty cool.  Not sure if the picture captures it (you might need to click to enlarge it) but these split roots look awesome on the trail.  The trail is mostly dry but the steepness make it challenging anyway.  There is a bit of mud and several fun creek crossings.  Brit is happy she borrowed Ellie’s waterproof boots.

Booth FallsWe arrive at the falls after about two miles, or an hour, of hiking.  We suspect most hikers only make it this far.  The grade is challenging.  This photo captures one of the first set of falls.  A later set is much more dramatic but also more difficult to photograph with a live person in the picture.  The trail increases its slope after these falls and nice views open up behind us of the Holy Cross Wilderness Area above Vail Mountain.  After three miles, we begin to see the moraine in the Gore Range where this trail will ultimately lead us.  The slopes still hold snow.

meadowThe vegetation along the trail is lush.  We see many of the same flowers we saw along the Lost Lake Trail, but a million times more thick.  The trail alternates between forest trees and meadows.  We see a deer bound through one meadow so fast we’re not certain what it is at first.  Brit suggested that maybe it was being chased by a mountain lion.  We then both agree that we think mountain lions are nocturnal.  This is what one usually says to avoid thinking about the potential danger.  The most amazing of all the wildflowers we see is this Colorado Columbine.  Imagine fields of them.

Colorado ColumbineThis is a great hike for sightseeing.  We see a beaver super up close.  He has bark all over his lips.  We see a couple of weasels.  A second deer near the lake.  And then for the first time ever on a hike, we see a mountain goat.  So cool.  We expect the lake to only be a 4.1 mile hike and become a bit discouraged as we near the moraine and never see it.  We keep thinking it will be over the next rise.  After 4.5 miles, we see it and are amazed.

booth lakeAlpine lakes have a way of taking your breath away.  Not just from hiking up to 11,500 feet.  This one is so pristine and serene.  There is still snow hanging over the shores.  And the water is crystal clear.  There is no one else up here.  We take a good 15 minutes to enjoy it.  We leave sooner than we care to because rain clouds are forming.

We hike pass tons of others on their way up, mostly below the falls.  Some are headed to the lake and we encourage them.  We understand why most don’t make it past the falls.  That’s a great hike too, for sure.  Reaching the lake is likely too much for the average tourist.  We both feel special for being able to see it today.