Lake Agnes is the location for PBT’s highest elevation time-lapse camera, an alpine lake nestled in the Never Summer Range of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It is also the beginning of the Platte River’s story. In late January the PBT team trekked up 11,000 feet to the camera on the edge of the lake (which in the winter is disguised as a snowfield) to fix equipment, record audio, and document where the Platte River’s flow begins.
Although stream flow is supplemented by groundwater and precipitation, most of the water in the Platte originates from snow melt. What starts as falling snowflakes accumulates into blankets of snow and then melts into water in the Michigan (one of the tributaries of the Platte). This snowpack accounts for up to 75% of the water in western streams. River forecasting is used to anticipate the amount of water that will be available in the river based on the amount of snowpack. Municipalities, agriculture, wildlife (including four endangered species), recreation, and most of the life on the Great Plains are reliant upon Lake Agnes and the surrounding tarns and snow-capped mountains for water supplies.
Practicality aside, Lake Agnes is an expansive wilderness with minimal signs of human activity (especially with 10 feet of snow in negative degree weather). The uniformity of an undisturbed, snow-covered landscape feeds a wanderer’s imagination and ignites a part of us that isn’t frequently found among the hustle and sometimes routine of daily life.
This video combines fact and sentiment about the function of this high alpine ecosystem.