Venable Lakes, 2009

The Venable Lakes drainage in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado has become one of our favorite backpacking/hiking/fishing destintations. About 15 minutes from Wescliffe, the Comanche/Venable trailhead starts around 9,000ft. We hiked in on a Friday afternoon taking 4 hours to travel the 5 miles gaining nearly 3,000ft of elevation. We camped just below the lakes, leaving the trail at  the old and falling down log cabin. The camp site was in the trees, so while we were still below treeline, it still had great views. The two upper lakes are a 15-20 minute hike up some switchbacks. We set up camp by 4:30 and headed to the lakes for some fishing. The trout fishing was fantastic! At the lower lake I landed 13 fish in about 90 minutes, and the others caught just as many. We kept two fish and brought them back to camp to cook on the fire. The weather was prefect, and without a cloud in the sky we could see the Milky Way by 10:30PM.

Saturday morning brought plenty of sunshine, and 4 of our group headed to the lakes to fish , while another hiker and I headed to Venable Pass. We hiked over the pass and straddled the ridge that separates the Venable Pass trail from Groundhog Basin. We sat for a bit looking at the wildlife, spotting 11 Mule deer bucks running together along with a few does. We also spotted 2 heards of elk with 13 in each group. While hiking back to the pass we noticed two Golden Eagles circling around just north of the pass. Then we saw a doe Mule deer running. It appeared that the eagles were chasing the doe. But, then we noticed a fawn. One of the eagles landed on the fawn’s back and it looked like it was going to carry it away. WOW! Those birds are huge! And, what was that fawn doing way above treeline? Then the doe charged towards the eagle who flew off, but then the other swooped in. This happened a few more times when the doe took off running and the fawn didn’t follow. Then both of the eagles came down on it and the fawn was doomed. I haven never seen something like this first-hand before. I didn’t realize that golden eagles kill and eat deer. A once-in-a-lifetime chance we thought. We returned to the pass and then hiked down to the lakes. The fishing at the upper lake was also very good and the others caught a lot of fish that day. I fished for around 30 minutes and then it clouded up and rained for about 20 minutes. The day’s hiking took it’s toll and I was exhausted, so I headed back to camp to refuel. We had a decent fire and some fresh fish and went to bed around 10:30 again. I had a good night’s sleep as I always sleep better the second night.

Sunday morning was quite peaceful and we basically goofed off until 11AM. We packed up and headed out. I think that it took us a little over 2 hours.


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