The trailhead starts at around 10,000 feet, and after some small amount of climbing in the beginning, levels out to absolutely amazing subalpine meadows. These are very different from most of what I've seen here in Colorado, and the views are simply breathtaking.
At this time of year, there are wildflowers everywhere in the meadows, and you will see many more of them showing up throughout the pictures.
Compared to most places I've hiked in Colorado, there's a very unique, wide open feel to these meadows. It's easy to forget that you're hiking at over 10,000 feet elevation. Of course, having an AARN pack strapped to your back makes it feel even easier, since things are so nicely balanced and comfortable, even with a stupid bulky bear canister lashed to the top.
These meadows we were hiking through surrounded Rich Creek, after which the trail is named, and the area is popular with many user groups - hikers, campers, horseback riders, and fly fishermen. The fishermen come for the many, many trout that live in the pools behind beaver dams.
As we hiked on, we came into more patches of various wildflowers.
Unfortunately, we started to hear thunderstorms in the distance, and they were sort of freaking us out. By this point, we were at just over 11,000 feet - not the most pleasant elevation to be dealing with potential lightning strikes. As it started to drizzle, we picked up the pace and started rushing toward the cover of the trees at the end of the meadows. We found cover in the trees, at 11,500 feet, but weren't crazy about the many dead trees we saw around us. Luckily, the storm blew over fast, and all we saw from it was a few drops, before we got back to clear views of gorgeous meadows.
Not much longer after the storms blew through, we found a great campsite right on the edge of the trees. This site was at around 11,200 feet, and had one of the best views I've ever experienced in a campsite.