Heeding to the multiplicity of Internet warnings about limited parking at the popular trail head after 9am, I rise shortly before five to secure a spot. Good thing too, as I became a little confused as how to actually get to Hanging Lake from the Interstate.

Arriving a little after 6 in the morning, I find only two cars in the trail head parking lot, one of them being park maintenance. Rubbing my hands together for warmth, I take off along the Colorado River, following the short paved trail that leads to the start of one of Colorado’s most popular hikes.

As the sun rises and lights up the tips of the mountain peaks, I stop to search for signs of Rocky Mountain Sheep. None can be found with these eyes, but I’ve no doubt of their presence above, and am certain that they at least smell, if not see me.

A less frightened creature, a squirrel, busy with the quickly approaching Winter, pays me no mind as he gathers a large mushroom top and scurries it up a tree to his home.

After about a 1/4 mile in, the trail starts it’s steep ascent. I buckle down and focus my footsteps on the trail and my controlled breathing so I make it to the top.

Being only two miles to the lake, I make good time on the climb up, and stumble over the rocks to enjoy the sun hitting the water. The waterfalls cool the sweat dripping off my backside in buckets, even though it’s only a little past seven now….

The hikers from the other car in the parking lot are heading down the trail as I arrive.

Perfect timing.

I have some breakfast as curious fish cross my lens before becoming skittish and dart underneath the protection of downed tree limbs.

Popular for a very good reason, Hanging Lake is a short but strenuous hike in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, and worth every step….

no matter what time of day.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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