Lake Isabelle Early Spring Hike

Winter Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

This is indeed why we hike, why we seek the solace of the high country and why we love sharing our experiences that others might be inspired to step out of their comfort zone and see it with their own eyes. Lake Isabelle is just such a place to step outside of everyday life and into the wild unknown.

Lake Isabelle hidden from the outside world lies just to the south of Rocky Mountain National Park in the Indian Peaks Wilderness. And while many do seek an alpine experience here during the summer months, few will make the trek through the deep snow of the winter season which can linger well into June.

Winter Lake Isabelle Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

At just under 11,000′ in elevation, Lake Isabelle sits protected from the hustle and bustle of the modern world, surrounded by three spectacular peaks, Navajo (13,409′), Apache (13,441′) and Shoshoni (12,967′) and fed by the Isabelle Glacier (12,000′) via the St Vrain Creek.

While getting here is not like climbing Mt Everest, the altitude is something to respect if you’re not used to its effects. Patience is the key as you climb steadily along the trail past vast mountain views, clear running streams, lush forests and the ever present Indian Peaks which stand guard over the area.

Our latest outing was nothing less than amazing. The traditional summer trail is not passable in winter and early spring, as it is buried deep under a blanket of winter snow.

One must take precautions by understanding the lay of the land and be quite familiar with route finding and topographical maps. While the use of a GPS device can be helpful, if the batteries ever fail, you’d be on your own. Add to this technical aspect of finding your way there and back, and knowledge of unpredictable weather in the high country is a major plus to a great experience in the Colorado high country.

Lake Isabelle Winter Hike Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

Our route took us away from the summer trail and across Long Lake’s northern shore. Long Lake is itself a beautiful destination, and fed also by the St Vrain Creek as it cascades down the mountain out of Lake Isabelle’s eastern outlet.

Following Long Lake to the this drainage point out of Lake Isabelle was indeed our route. The final ascent up the drainage is demanding, as it is typically a beautiful waterfall in the summer, though in winter resembles more of a narrow ski run, steep and well covered in pristine snow. Once we made the ridge, the peaks around the lake began to appear and our excitement grew.

Getting here can be a challenge in the winter, but the reward is overwhelming. Being in the presence of such a place is breathtaking. Pictures can do no justice, neither can our words, it just simply is an exhilarating alpine experience that has to be seen and explored to understand.

From this vantage point, if your able to turn away from the lake, you can see the entire route from which you came and be able to put it all into perspective.

St Vrain Creek Winter lake Isabelle Indian Peaks Wilderness Colorado

From the Isabelle Glacier, Lake Isabelle, the St Vrain Creek, down through the valley and into Long Lake, this is indeed why we hike, why we seek the solace of the high country and why we love sharing our experiences that others might be inspired to step out of their comfort zone and see it with their own eyes.

Being in the wild untamed wilderness has a way of reminding us of how beautiful the natural world is.

To see more photos of the Indian Peaks Wilderness visit the MAD Hippies Flickr page. We hope to see you on the trail 😀



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Avery Brewing Company

Avery Brewing Company

Avery Brewing CompanyIn the microbrewery world quality is king.

Avery Brewing Company of Boulder, CO was founded in 1993 and has made the claim of being a “family-owned craft brewery committed to producing eccentric ales and lagers that defy styles or categories”. Indeed they have done just that. We have sampled many different offerings from Avery and have yet to entertain a brew we didn’t like. From far left to far right, or better yet, from the lighter side all the way [and perhaps beyond] the far dark side, these microbrews and craft beers will please the palate and have you coming back for more. We love their ability to experiment and try new combinations of flavors.

And if that weren’t enough for you, Avery has gone and created an oasis in Boulder for the craft beer lover. Their new facility is top notch and appears to have the same ingredients as their beers in that quality is king. We spent some time exploring, speaking with staff and enjoying a few of our favorite brews along side some amazing food while there. With a restaurant upstairs and an indoor / outdoor patio downstairs to boot, there’s certainly a place for everyone here as the food and drink options are available at both.

We began with a visit upstairs to their fabulous restaurant that has a surprisingly great menu. Our server, Matt B., was friendly and more than knowledgeable, eagerly fielding our questions. Being from the Gulf States we found it quite welcoming to know that the chef studied in Gulfport, MS and wanted to bring southern style food with a Boulder twist to the menu, and did so wonderfully! And, as an added bonus, there are the vegetarian options, hence the Boulder twist! Great food to go with great beer is what we came for and received.

Speaking of beer, yeah Avery fans, it’s all here! There are 30 taps of your favorite Avery brew and an excellent friendly and knowledgeable staff to help guide you through the experience all in a great atmosphere. After you eat / drink you can take a tour or just go for a self-guided curious walk through the brewery.

Avery Brewing Company is now located at 4910 Nautilus Ct in Boulder, CO. Their tap room and restaurant are open 11am-11pm Daily.



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Winter Wonderland

MAD Hippies LIfe Royal Arch Chautauqua Park Boulder ColoradoAfter a good ole fashioned snow storm moved through Colorado, we were itching to hit a trail and experience the beauty of Colorado in the winter. This past week we also learned that a favorite trail of ours that had been closed for over a year because of severe flooding had reopened making our choice of outings a no-brainer. Winter gear packed in the truck, we headed out excited to hit a snowy trail and enjoy sunny blue skies in Boulder, CO. The Royal Arch trail might not be a long trail, or even a high altitude mountaineering experience, but that notion soon fades as you hit the trail and are quickly thrust into a beautiful and serene environment among the amazing Flatirons of Boulder. Hiking in Colorado is no doubt a wonderful blessing, hiking in Colorado in the winter just seems to take it to the next level. Whatever the case we are indeed in the midst of some amazing mountains that never cease to amaze us in any season all year long.

More photos of our hikes and experiences