Saturday, October 17, 2015

Square Top Lakes - A Quiet Kingdom

Lower Square Top Lake

Stair-stepped below a secluded thirteener, the two Square Top Lakes are connected by a streaming cascade of cold water. Beginning at the bustling Guanella Pass, the alpine trek to get there concludes at a considerably less crowded location.

Bushwhacking through muddy bogs and thickets of prickly willows, it’s an uphill haul all the way. Established at such a high altitude, this quiet kingdom is defined by wide open space, clear air and a steady breeze.

Upon arriving at the cobalt-colored reservoir, the vivid color contrast is simply too much for the human eye to comprehend. It’s satisfying to explore the lower lake’s lovely setting but curiosity may compel you to ascend to the next level.

After scrambling up to the far ledge, you behold another quite shocking color scheme as the long, upper lake is surprisingly green. Squinting into the sun, you can see Square Top Mountain’s eastern slope slide right into the silky tarn.

Dusk is an unquestionable signal that it’s time to depart without delay. As the low light softens the scenery and shines a spotlight on the spectacular peaks to the east, a few fluffy clouds cast curious shadows across Mount Bierstadt and the jagged Sawtooth Ridge.

During the fall, twilight above tree line saturates the already ochre grassland with pure yellow. While tramping across the tundra on a warm autumn evening, it becomes obvious that the wealth of beauty amassed by these mountains can’t be measured in anything but gold.

Guanella Pass

A less crowded location

Thickets of prickly willows

Wide open space

Clear air

A quiet kingdom

A cobalt colored reservoir

Vivid color contrast

A lovely setting

The upper lake is green

A silky tarn

Curious shadows across Mount Bierstadt

An ochre grassland

Tramping across the tundra

The wealth of beauty

Is measured in gold

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