Adventure 2020: Browns Lake Backpack (July 18-19)

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In midsummer we set out for a weekend backpack to Browns Lake, one of Dorinna’s favorite spots in northern Colorado. We left the neighborhood at 9:30 am, which is pretty good for us. Only one backpacking party passed us as we climbed up to Crown Point. We had to stop for lunch before those views, unfortunately- the perils of a late start. From there the walk across the plateau was very nice.

When we made it to the high point, I came up with a plan for getting a campsite. Dorinna and Nate would grab the best of the hillside camps, while I would go ahead and drop down to the lake. I did this, but it was a much farther drop than I expected. I got the last campsite, #12, which was unfortunately in a claustrophobic pine forest. I dropped my pack, grabbed a Clif bar and my new rain jacket and made the steep ascent back up. They were waiting and worried, but we were together, and we hiked down to camp.

We had a leisurely morning of reading, which, unfortunately, meant another late start. We enjoyed looking at wildflowers around the lake, but then had some tense moments crossing the tundra as the thunderclouds gathered overhead. We made it to Crown Point for lunch and the start of intermittent sprinkles. It didn’t start raining in earnest until we made it back to the car, so that part of the trip went well.

In the fall of 2020, the massive Cameron Peak fire swept across the northern Colorado mountains. While we haven’t been back since the fire, maps show that the Browns Lake area was directly impacted by the flames. Given the thick conifer forests surrounding the lake, it is likely that the landscape has been dramatically changed.

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