Brainard Lake – Moose, Hikes and Reflections

We finally escaped the metropolis of Denver and headed for the hills.  Cooler weather and less people was just what we needed. Brainard Lake State Park inside the Indian Peaks Wilderness is easy just outside of Nederland and easy access from Boulder Creek. Known for some great hiking and lots of moose, it is a great place to hang out and try to spot my ‘bucket list’ moose.

Our camp site was nice, but nothing too spectacular.  Hammock trees, a fire ring, picnic table, bear box to store food and just enough distance from the neighbors.  Our particular loop of campsites was victim to a microburst of wind that took out almost all the trees.  Makes it look like a bit of a scar.  But of course is a plus for our solar panels.  So we had no trouble getting enough solar. Many many great hiking trails leave from the campground.

The only downside was lack of internet – absolutely zero. Which is a good thing, and a bad thing. We enjoyed the downtime and enjoyed developing pictures, writing blogs, planning, reading and enjoying podcasts.  What really sucked was planning to meet up with friends.  So every few days we drove down to Nederland and spent time at the library catching up on emails and phone calls.

From our campsite it is just a short walk to the lake.  We took the walk the first night at sunset and ended up seeing my very first moose.  It was amazing!  Sun setting and this great big bull just hanging out at the lake almost posing for me.  From that day forward, we saw moose every single day.

The moose in Colorado are transplanted from Wisconsin and number about 2,000.  It has been on my bucket list for years to see a moose.  This area delivered and then some!  I even had one that snuck up on me while taking pictures one morning — I turned and he was walking toward where I was standing.  I let out a startled scream and so did he —- I jumped up on the picnic table that I was standing at and he turned to walk across the street.  We were both equally startled!

While in Brainard we were able to coordinate dinner with other nomads Tim (Van_Tramp) Kerri (Asolo Journer), and  Drea (mrs_rvlegend) at the local watering hole.  We had a fun time catching up on each others travels and  talking about future travels.  Always nice to catch up with others in real life.

Angela, a friend from Denver was able to come out to the campsite on Saturday and spend the day.  We really appreciated her coming out to visit.  Especially since she had to wait over an hour to get in the park.  That is the big downside of Brainard Lake.  It is close to the metro area and very popular.  They let in only the number of cars consistent with available parking.  So you often sit and wait until cars leave in order to come in. When we left on Saturday morning there was a line of 76 cars waiting to get in a 9:00am.  Really makes you appreciate staying inside the park!

The hiking is wonderful in the park.  Dave spent much of his younger years hiking and skiing around the area and led me on several hikes to multiple lakes, ski huts and flower fields.  Beautiful scenery all around and of course in the early mornings and evenings moose of all ages and sizes. 

We came down to Boulder to celebrate a friends birthday. It is so much fun to be close to friends for the big events.  Living in Bend we never would have made these impromptu last minute events.  We celebrated Mikes birthday and caught up with Mark, Kim, Erik and Kendall.  Another great day and returned late in the evening.

Then the issues started…. as we returned late about 12 hours later we realized the water pump was on and running.  Never a good sign!  The water had run dry and we either had a leak or some other issue.  With no water, we turned off the pump and prayed it would all work when we got up in the morning.  It looked like I had hit the faucet in the shower when we stored some chairs in there to keep them out of the rain.  We never should have left the pump on, but at this point there was nothing we could do.

Upon waking up in the morning I added some water and confirmed the pump was dead.  It was making noise, but definitely not pulling in any water. And so our camping trip goes old school with bottles of water used for everything from flushing toilets to washing dishes. With no access to the internet we could do little and decided to move on to our next stop, Rocky Mountain National Park.

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