We went out of the way by a couple hours so we could see Grand Lake, where Eric lived 20 years ago, and do a little hiking around Shadow Mountain Lake. There are three lakes in a row in that part of the Rockies, including Grand Lake (the largest naturally occurring lake in Colorado and the headwaters of the Colorado River), Shadow Mountain, and Granby Lake. The latter two are man-made reservoirs.
Here's a map of the area, highlighting all the various trails. We had an hour and a half, so we did just part of the East Shore Trail, which begins right below the star on the map. The entire area is gorgeous and I'd be happy to go back and do more hiking in the summer or fall.
The elevation at Grand Lake is 8,367 feet, quite a bit higher than the 465 feet we're used to hear in St. Louis. Although we hiked on our fourth day in Colorado, I could still feel the difference. I took more breaks on hills than I normally do, and it took me longer to recover when I did take breaks. Altitude sickness is a real thing, unfortunately. So if a Wikipedia article says something is like a hangover, combining it with the real thing is really asking for trouble. I didn't do that on this hike, but I wasn't exactly cautious earlier in the trip.
One of the reasons we had to turn around was because the trail got worse as we went. Someone had smashed down the snow in a fairly even manner with snowshoes, but once that part ended, we were hiking in snow over our ankles. If you've never hiked in snow, it's a little like walking on sand, in that you don't get much energy back from your steps. If it hasn't been compacted in an orderly way, it just gets worse.
I wonder who goes out on the trail in snowshoes. A park ranger? Someone who loves the trail, or someone who wants it clear for their personal use?
The trail begins off a parking lot near the lake and a small downtown area with lots of small hotels and touristy places, such as souvenir shops, along with a couple restaurants and a coffee shop. The first third of the trail goes uphill into the woods before coming back to the lake's edge. The lake freezes over completely in the winter, allowing cars to drive on it, and it was mostly frozen when we were there, although you could see slushy areas along the shore. It was completely covered in snow, though, giving it the appearance of being solid.
The hill leading up from the lake was covered in lodge pole piles and big rocks. We saw a couple small, black squirrels, and some gray birds we didn't recognize (because Colorado has a LOT of gray birds), but no other wildlife.
What we did get were great views over the frozen lake and of the mountains beyond. Eric tells me that in the winter, they have snow mobile races on the lake when it's completely frozen over, and ice fishing is a big deal, too.
Like I said, I'd love to go back and hike more of this area. The mountains and lakes combined make for plenty of challenging (too challenging, maybe?) hikes and great views.