Thursday, July 11, 2019

Damfino Lakes and Excelsior Pass

The long road in, complete with potholes
Today's hike did not lack for adventure: fifteen Senior Trailblazers met at the Senior Center to make a final decision to head to the Damfino Lakes trailhead that would take us to Excelsior Pass. There are two ways to get to the pass, the one from the highway is long and starts at a lower elevation, so it's tough. This one is a long drive on fifteen miles of rather miserable road (see picture), but it starts much higher and is easier. The road has been closed for years, so it was our first time back in awhile.
Our group, plus me behind the camera
We almost didn't go, because the weather forecast was iffy. It looked wet to start but should have opened up later in the day (it didn't). But to start, it was just a rather heavy mist, and we were all ready for it.
Walking on the trail near the lakes
It was so nice to be back in the area, even if the weather wasn't wonderful. By the time we got to Damfino Lakes, it wasn't even misting very much. The lakes are called Damfīno (long "i") because someone once asked what these nondescript lakes are called, and the answer was "damned if I know."
Heading towards the pass
Once you get past the lakes, you begin a steady but gentle climb towards the pass, which has wonderful views on a day when it's not socked in, like it was today. But the weather was mild, the rain only a heavy mist at its worst, and we moved steadily upwards.
Green and lush
After a bit more than three miles, we reached the pass, but the trail caused those who had never been on this side to exclaim often, "what a beautiful trail!" And for me, I remembered why I love this particular trail so much. Just plain delightful, even without any views.
The pass
When we reached the pass, there were several options available to us: head to the summit, about a mile from this sign, find a nice place for lunch, or hike a ways along the High Divide trail. We decided to head for the summit, but as soon as we got onto the other side of the pass, the heavy mist was more like actual rain.
On the other side of the pass
We trudged a ways along in the heavy mist, and after a short while some of us decided to turn back and try to find a place for lunch. Eight decided to continue up to the top of Excelsior Mountain (maybe another .7 mile), while the rest of us decided to find a place to shelter and have lunch.
Our lunch spot
We found a nice place to enjoy our lunch and hang out waiting for the summiteers to return. Once you stop, when you're not basking in the sun, we had to walk around trying to stay warm. But once we connected up with the others (who had already had lunch separately from us), we headed back down the trail we had come up.
Joy looking joyful
As you can see, on our return, it was still a bit on the wet side, without any view, but everyone was happy to have re-discovered this favorite trail. We made our way back down the way we had come. By this time, the rain had pretty much stopped, but we were all a bit cold from the breeze and damp conditions.
The rain had finally let up
This is the final picture I took, because by the time we got back to the boardwalks around the lakes, I took a hard fall. The boards were wet, and I was walking too fast and my legs went out from under me. I hit the boardwalk, hard, with my sacrum taking the hit. I was in serious pain, but once the shock began to let up, I was able to get up and continue hiking. My friend Kirk took my pack, and Jim walked behind me for support, and Chris in front, warning me of slippery spots.

I took a couple of ibuprofen right away, and now that it's been four hours, I just took two more, along with a nice bit of wine, and, although I am sore and walking carefully, only time will tell how much of an injury I have sustained. We covered anywhere from seven to eight miles and around 1,400 feet of elevation, depending on whether you were a summiteer or not, and in any event I think we are all simply happy to have had such an adventurous day in the High Country!


  1. I'm amazed at how many different trails you can find. I've always said that there was never a trail that I wouldn't do again. Rapid recovery to you.

  2. I hope you are ok - and glad that you could see the positives in the day despite your fall.
    And I love the name of lakes.

  3. Hope you are not too sore today, Jan. That trail sounds wonderful though.

  4. So sorry to hear about your fall... hope it doesn't turn out to be serious. It seems that no matter how careful we think we are, it only takes one mis-step. But I have to say that I love these pics... especially the one "headed towards the pass" - beautiful area!

  5. I think my favorite is your 'lunch spot'. And, LOVE the story behind the naming of the lake. And the road to the trailhead looks like a challenge alright!!

    You take care now...those falls can be bad.

  6. Am always amused at the quirky names you all have for certain areas. What I am not amuse about is your fall. Sounds painful and I hope you will get it checked if it persists. Feel better soon.

  7. Oh no! I hope you are doing okay!
    I was thinking that it looks so beautiful, but wet and muddy and slippery. Loved the picture of Joy. Fits her name so well. :)

  8. Ouch!

    It looks like a wonderful trail, even in mist.

  9. Sounds like a great adventure, but hope you're ok!

  10. So there you are, back in the high country! I can't decide from the photos if it is before or after the meadow flower blooming time.

  11. I hope it's better by now. That was a hard fall. Love the story about Damned if I know Lakes. Haha

  12. Not the way you would want your adventure to end. Hope it's no more than bruised. Pity about the rain and drizzle. Just the kind of weather I am unhappy with when walking.

  13. Hope you will be okay after your fall.

  14. Oh yikes! I had to come back to this post to see what happened. I'm so sorry. I had the same injury when I was pregnant with my son and actually fell down carpeted stairs on my butt. I thought I was going to lose him, but the obstetrician said he was fine, even though I wasn't. I was in pain for several months, but it did heal. I know you will too though knowing you, you are a little impatient to be active and moving easily. I wish I had your energy. Please be gentle with yourself.


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