Mountain Stream

Blanca Massif, Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Something that I have always found to be a miracle is the appearance of flowing water above treeline. The hydraulic pressure underground has to be pretty high to get a bubbling spring at 13,000+ feet. In the bowl above Lake Como we found plenty of water spots in the rock but the waterflow wasn't substantial until it got down the hill a bit. The photo below was taken on the main trail up Blanca and Ellingwood in the area of the broken cliffs (pretty close to 13,000 feet.) There's a seam in the rock forcing the water out into the open. It runs down a little bit and then disappears into the rock again. It's hard to tell how much water is really flowing until you look at the outflow from Crater Lake. And as you go down the hill below Crater Lake there is more and more water coming in from all directions, all of it eventually ending up in Lake Como. The outlet from Lake Como is Holbrook Creek, which flows down off the mountain onto the floor of the San Luis Valley and eventually into the Blanca Wetlands-BLM Recreational Management Area. Most of the water in the valley sinks into the aquifer beneath the floor of the valley. The only exception is the Rio Grande.

On the north side of the mountain is the trail from the Upper Huerfano Valley to Lily Lake. It takes you pretty close to the glacier at the foot of Blanca's north wall before heading up above treeline and over to Lily Lake. Lily Lake is fed by several streams just like the ones pictured here. I hiked it in mid-summer and also saw lots of small waterfalls and rivulets coming down off that vertical slab that is Blanca's north face.

mountain stream
The first place where there was lots of flowing water
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mountain spring
Crater Lake, at the very base of Blanca Peak
spring water
The falls above Blue Lakes
The falls below Crater Lake
A closer view
mountain stream
Below the unnamed lake
mountain stream
Just above Lake Como
Lake Como
And then there's Lake Como logo
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