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August 24 • Charles Peak, Lake Charles, Mystic Island Lake

Another solo hike, I left home at 7:00 and drove to the end of East Brush Creek Road south of Eagle, Colorado. The dirt road is quite passable in my low-clearance car but gets very narrow for the last mile. I hit the Iron Edge Trail at 8:05.

It was cold; probably in the high forties but I didn't check the thermometer. There was no sun on the trail until a half hour in. I was pretty chilly and ready to put on my jacket when I found patches of sun here and there so didn't need the jacket after all. Climbed to the Peter Estin Hut by 10:00. Saw two women on the porch of the hut but no other people until then (or at all until reaching Lake Charles).

Climbed to the 12,000 foot summit of Charles Peak by 11:00 where there's a nice view of Gold Dust Peak and Fools Peak. I shot a panorama, had lunch and departed the summit by 11:45. The trail to Lake Charles from Charles Peak was somewhat hard to follow in spots but the scenery was great. My map was incorrect, showing that this trail joined LakeCharles Trail some 200 feet below the lake, so I was surprised when I approached the lake from directly above. I arrived at Lake Charles at about 1:25 where I saw just two people relaxing on a warm rock.

From there it was a shorter than expected scamper of roughly 40 minutes up to Mystic Island Lake at 11,350 feet. I sat by the lake to have some food, then shot another 360° panorama. There were five people and two dogs at Mystic Island Lake, a very scenic spot at the end of the valley; the headwaters of East Brush Creek. Three of the people appeared to be set there for the night with their tents. (Wished I was too.) Couldn't tell about the other two; I wasn't near enough to speak with anyone.

Departed that lake at 2:45. It was only a half hour return to Lake Charles and total of three hours to the car down the Lake Charles Trail. That trail is moderately steep and densely forested. I saw nine more people below Lake Charles. There’s nothing much for scenery below Lake Charles and I made few stops so reached the car just before 5:45. Used all my water; three and a half quarts. It was a tough day but not too. Wouldn't recommend it for casual hikers. Click here for more pictures.


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