Gulch. Such a funny sounding word (if you’re me or you’re 12). It sounds like the name you would give a gas exiting your body after consuming an entire bag of Doritos.
In actuality, a gulch (hehehe) is a deep, narrow ravine that marks the path of a fast moving stream (thanks dictionary!) This week, I decided to hike the Herman Gulch Trail to Herman Lake on my day of sweet freedom from work.
Since I would be hiking this 6.5 mile roundtrip hike solo, I wanted to make sure I was extra prepared.
Pictured: Map, compass, extra socks (Darn Tough brand ‘cuz they are the best!), extra layers (3 season blue puffy from Outdoor Research which is so awesome it will get it’s own blog post some day), gloves & buff (yup, it’s still snowy in the mountains), sun protection: hat, chap stick, sun glasses, first aid kit (contains all kinds of cool survival thingies like waterproof matches), and whistle (always attached to my pack)
Not pictures but packed: knife, water, snacks, PB&J sammies (official sammy of hiking), hiking pole, selfie stick (ok, not one of the 10 Essentials), yak trax (because I’m not the most graceful person hiking on ice or snow), sunscreen, hiking boots, and tissues (because I’m allergic to the outdoors. Well, some of it. Haha)
Note: a headlamp is something I should have packed but mine apparently went MIA after my last hike. I guess I’ll have to go back to REI soon 😉
Before I set out in the morning on this hike that is only an hour from Denver, I made sure to tell someone (in this case, my mountain search and rescuer boyfriend) where I would be hiking, what time I planned to start, and what time I expected to be finished. I can’t stress how important this step is especially when hiking solo. I’ll talk more safety stuff in future blogs.
On the trail at 8:00am.
As I mentioned, the trailhead is only about an hour drive from Denver. It is exit 218 off the I-70. The trailhead is literally the only thing on this exit. What a special trail to get its very own highway exit, huh? Anyway, for the first 5 minutes or so of the hike you can still hear the trucks flying by on the I-70, but that soon changes as you climb higher and higher into the woods. Suddenly, the roar of the water cascading down the gulch to your left fills your ears.
Continuing further down the trail, you come to several open meadows with tremendous views in all directions.
This trail gains about 1,655 feet in elevation and tops out at 12,018 feet. With slick, snowy patches to navigate and slightly tougher breathing above treeline, I still made it to the lake, just a little later than I anticipated.
The view looking back to the gulch I had just climbed up.
On my way up to the lake, I only encountered one other hiker, another solo female hiker. Yay! It really is a confidence booster for me to see other women “getting it” on the trails. On the way down, about 10am, the flood gates had opened, and I said trail hellos to about 20 other hikers and furry companions.
I’m excited to hike Herman Gulch again later in the summer after the snow has melted. According to many online trail reports, the meadow in which the lake sits, can be filled with wildflowers in the summer months.