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High Lakes of Southern Chaffee County, by Nancy Jacoby

Review by Ed Quillen

Geography – January 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

High Lakes of Southern Chaffee County: A Journal
by Nancy L. Jacoby
Published in 2002 by the author

IT’S EMBARRASSING to admit this, but I got lost last summer, up above Billings Lake at the head of the North Fork. The trail that led back to the Blazer was right there, under my feet at times, but I kept telling myself that it wasn’t the right route, and kept looking for another one. In the process, I got some high-altitude exercise, and I also “discovered” a small lake.

If I had read this book before that trip, I might still have gotten lost, but at least I’d have known the name of the lake; it’s Island Lake, and in this short book, author Nancy L. Jacoby explains that it sits at 11,800 feet, gives directions to the trailhead, and provides this journal entry, dated June 15, 2000:

“Jake [her dog] and I hiked into Island on this date to take more pictures. Along the narrow foot trail is a spectacular view of North Fork Reservoir. Allow 15-20 minutes to the lake from the beginning of the trail and 40-50 minutes one way from County Road 240. A view of Billings Lake from the backside can also be seen on the way out. My Dad and I scared up a very large coyote along the foot trail on one occasion. The lake is said to have been winter-killed around 1995; but I have since witnessed a few cutthroats jumping (very few) and also in the run-off pond down below Island (referred to as Ellis Lake). Like Arthur Lake, Island Lake also hosts 3 different age classes of fish. As Jake and I climbed the meadow above Island on this June day, we scoured up a pair of camouflaged white ptarmigan game birds.”

That’s fairly typical of the 27 entries in this journal, all accompanied by color photos, maps, and the like.

This appears to be mostly aimed at high-country anglers, since it provides considerable fishing information. But even as someone who hasn’t fished in years, I found it informative and enjoyable.

— Ed Quillen