Loose Ends: Tourists and Trappers Lake

Are we there yet?” takes on new meaning when one heads up the White River to share a favorite hiking and fishing spot. It seems so close to home to Meekerites, in fact all the upriver country is really a part of the neighborhood.  Newcomers are always amazed at the mileage accrued and the amount of time spent traveling into the high country around here. Once they take the opportunity to explore, they find out how long it takes and how difficult it is to keep from using up an entire day.Heading to Trappers Lake to fish, hike or camp has been an area tradition since the earliest days of settlement in the upper White River valley. The history of “dudes” and the tourist industry can be chronicled by looking back into the late 1800s to see what made the area such a draw for tourism.Stories from the local oral history collection are included in all three volumes of “This Is What I Remember” and picturing the area as it looked in those early days is never difficult. The first Trappers Lake Lodge, the Forest Inn, was established in 1886 by coal magnate John Osgood. While it was started as a private hunting and fishing lodge, it  opened to the public in 1892. Although fires and insect infestations have taken their toll on the forest and the original lodge burned down, it was quickly rebuilt. While the locals have stories about their relatives and all of their remembrances of Trappers Lake, returning visitors also regale family and friends with stories about their  experiences up in that unique high country. One woman remembered hearing about Trappers Lake more than 35 years ago when she lived on the Front Range. “It is amazing we ended up here not long after meeting people who could not stop talking about this really beautiful spot in an isolated mountain valley in the northwestern part of the state. One weekend our neighbors were heading out into the high country and instead of enthusing about the 14ers as did most of their friends, they described the one of a kind experience renting rustic cabins and canoes and row boats in an isolated mountain lake.”One knows the place is special to the folks who visit when they personalize it and begin to think of it as more than a tourist site. Conversations that include references to “my Trappers Lake” or “our Trappers Lake” are a dead giveaway.