Lost Man Lake

September 8, 2018 · Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness

The hike to Lost Man Lake in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness inside of the White River National Forest is along Independence Pass. Independence Pass is one of my least favorite roads, but the hike to Lost Man Lake and beyond on this day was amazing. The weather for the hike was perfect. The sky was big and blue with white clouds racing by. This hike was originally planned to go all the way to Deadman Lake, but by the time I got to South Fork Pass I had spent so much time taking in the amazing views of the Williams Mountains that in order to get off of Independence Pass before sunset and the weather changing for the worse (which it did) - this was far enough. But what a day on the trail, it was breathtaking.

The trail starts at treeline and quickly jumps up over treeline to Independence Lake, there are spectacular views of Independence Peak. I started early and got to watch the sun come up over the peaks surrounding the trail. The trail has two distinct visual effects, the morning effect has dark shadows making for dramatic textures along the mountains and the afternoon effect is big and bright with vibrant colors in the shrubs, trees and bright mountain peaks.

I got super lucky with the weather, the clouds were racing by very fast, but the only place it was windy was at the saddle overlooking Lost Man Lake and Independence Lake. The wind barrels up the Lost Man Lake side of the saddle, but once down at Lost Man Lake the wind calms down to a nice breeze.

The trek to Lost Man Lake is a quick hike, and part of a Loop, though I don't understand how two trailheads four miles apart constitutes a loop - especially if to connect the two trailheads you must do a car relay (along Independence Pass) or walk along 82 (the narrow two-lane road with no shoulder). I did see one person that had a semi-good idea, they brought a bike and locked it up at the trailhead. I assume they started from the other trailhead and was working their way back to their bike. However, they still have to get on 82. There must be an undocumented connector trail between the two trailheads.

Nevertheless, if you can stomach driving 82 (Independence Pass) and get good weather and are fit enough, the hike to Independence Lake and the saddle overlooking Independence Lake and Lost Man Lake is well worth it. The decent down to Lost Man Lake from the saddle is fairly steep and through a talus field. From there you get your first glimpse of the Williams Mountains. Lost Man Lake is a hanging lake and gives off an interesting illusion when looking out over the lake to the peaks of the Williams Mountains.

The trail swings right - around Lost Man Lake and the spectacular views of the Williams Mountains come into sight. From here, a wide gentle sloping glacial valley opens up to breathtaking views of the valley floor set against the Williams Mountains peaks. Right here is far enough to call it a successful day on the trail. I spent a lot of time on this short leg between Lost Man Lake and South Fork Pass just taking in the views and the colors. There was a very mild breeze, but the big white clouds were racing by so quickly that the texture and contours of the valley floor and the Williams Mountains peaks changed every few minutes. I could have spent all day here.

The saddle at South Fork Pass gives an awe-inspiring view of a still-lush green floor of a v-shaped valley. I stopped here, because from Lost Man Lake to here was mostly down-hill. Thinking that I will have to do all of this in reverse and time against me in addition to hearing the report of a hunter's rifle fairly close by, I opted that this was far enough for one day. Deadman's Lake will have to wait for another time.

Towards the end of the day, the clouds stopped moving so quickly and began to form larger clouds with darker bottoms and the cloud ceiling was dropping. It turned out that I timed stepping off of the trail and getting down off of Independence Pass just in time. By the time I got to Leadville, the sky was dark and heavy and had just started to rain.

Because of the amount of downhill on this hike, it made the 11.4 miles feel like they went by very quickly, even though I had spent over nine hours on the trail. The Fall colors throughout the valley after Lost Man Lake are amazing. Someday, I will go back and make it to Deadman's Lake. It seems like this would be a great mid-July hike. What a beautiful day on the trail.


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AREAS HIKED

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness10
Eagles Nest Wilderness10
Fossil Ridge Wilderness1
Fraser Experimental Forest1
Gunnison National Forest1
Holy Cross Wilderness12
Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness3
Indian Peaks Wilderness17
James Peak Wilderness1
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness2
Mount Evans Wilderness2
Mount Massive Wilderness2
Pike National Forest1
Raggeds Wilderness1
Rocky Mountain National Park41
San Isabel National Forest6
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness2
White River National Forest10
Zirkel Wilderness1

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SEASONS ON THE TRAIL

2021

The 2021 Season has started. Though the pandemic created a challenging 2020 season, I am looking forward to building on the 2020 season to create an incredible 2021 season. The pandemic has taught me a few things about when and where to go hiking. As such planning for the 2021 se...

2020

The 2020 hiking season has been incredible, even in the face of adversity. The pandemic has made for a logistically challenging season. Somehow, I was still able to piece together an incredible 230+ miles on the trail this season and able to see some truly spectacular places. Enj...

2019

The 2019 hiking season was an interesting season, this was the first season that I started and ended the season snowshoeing and a full summer of hiking for a total of just under 225 miles on the trail. What this season has taught me is that it's winter in the mountains for a long...

2018

The 2018 Summer Hiking Season has come to an end. What a season, incredible views and just over 230 miles on the trail. Even with 230 miles, this season seems short to me, perhaps I'll add something to it during the winter season - snowshoeing perhaps. In the meantime, I hope you...

2017

The 2017 hiking season was interesting, I was able to explorer more of Colorado's National Forests and get in some camping, not as much camping as I would have liked, but hopefully next year I'll able to get in more multi-day hikes. This season came in just under 129 miles roundt...

2016

The 2016 hiking season was about spreading out and exploring more of Eagles Nest Wilderness, Indian Peaks Wilderness and touching on White River National Forest - and of course a few trips into Rocky Mountain National Park. These are amazing National treasures. This season came i...

2015

The 2015 hiking season was a big hiking season, I decided to do a fundraiser for The Red Cross (I learned a lot about fundraising - it was very interesting) with my pledge to hike over 200 miles for this season, I came in at 217 miles for the season; what a great time out on the ...

2014

The 2014 hiking season was almost all about exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, it really is a beautiful park. What I learned during the course of this hiking season is, although people may roll their eyes when you say you're going on a hike in RMNP, it really is spectacular ...

2013

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