So Dreadfully Behind, It’s Still Winter!

I have no idea where 2018 has gotten to.  As I write, it’s mid-August and I just came across pictures from back in February that I hadn’t processed!  Clearly life got a little busy and – quite honestly – saying goodbye to our little girl Sydney back in June threw me for quite a loop.  Pictures were definitely the last thing on my mind as we went through that.  (I’m sure at some point I’ll write a post about that – I’ll be sure to hydrate myself before I write since it’s bound to be a teary one.)

So here we are late-summer, looking back at snowshoe pictures I took in February during the one and only time we got out on the trails this winter.  We trekked up the winter trail to one of our favorite places – Loch Vale (a.k.a. The Loch).  The winter trail is pretty easy until the last quarter-mile or so when it gets pretty steep.  It’s worth the trip though!

As usual, it was really blustery when we reached The Loch itself.  We had to find some shelter out of the wind just to eat our lunch.  Luckily for me, we plopped ourselves down for a nosh right near a really interesting curl of snow on a rock.  I think that’s the one thing that I took the most pictures of during our hike!  Though it was tricky to avoid over-exposing the picture using my phone, I did snag a few shots that I was fond of…

The Loch is a good hike any time of year, though winter is probably our favorite because it’s not nearly as crowded as it is other times of year.  Naturally, that comes with trade-offs that you have to prepare for… like bundling up and leaning into powerful winds to get up there in the first place!  Totally worth it though…

 

– JC

Late April Snow Day

We got one of our typical mid-spring snowstorms yesterday in Colorado.  It was an instant reminder that I still had snowshoeing pictures to share now that my computer has been back up and running for almost 2 months.  (Whoops!  Life away from the computer got busy during that span, so as usual, I’m a little behind on my posts.)

There’s still snow up in the mountains, but it’s doubtful I’ll get out to snowshoe again before next season.  That means I only got out twice this season.  But, twice is better than none!

As it turned out, all of the snowshoeing I got to do happened in January.  Our first snowshoe outing was on New Year’s Day where we celebrated the start of 2017 by cruising along the Flattop Mountain trail for as long as we felt like going.  (It’s a very long and somewhat difficult trail for snowshoeing that I’m just not up to handling yet.)

The day started out with nice weather, but as it seems to always happen in the winter, another storm was on its way into the area as the day progressed.  We had to cut our day a little short just to be on the safe side.  On the left, you can see the storm starting to blow down and into the park over Hallett Peak at the start of our hike.  On the right, the storm settled in and the snow began.  We were only on the trail for maybe 2 hours, so the change in weather didn’t take too long.

Along the way I did get a couple of fun shots, including a shot of my “big winter feet” just for yucks.  Even though we had to cut our day short, it was a fun hike for our first trek of the season.

The only other time I got out snowshoeing was at the end of January.  (My husband got to sneak in another trip or two without me later in the season – lucky!)  That day we shot up the trail to Emerald Lake, also in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The weather was a little nicer than our previous hike earlier in the month, but the wind was utterly brutal by the time we got to Emerald Lake.

Winter Mountainside

After being blasted by wind and cold at Emerald Lake, we came back down into the shelter of the trees and strolled across Bear Lake for yucks before going back to our car.  Luckily for me we came across something interesting – some inverse footprints that were caused by the mixing of melting, new snowfall, and wind over the winter on the lake.

Reverse Footprints in the Snow

This winter was very much feast or famine in terms of snow in the mountains of Colorado.  In the end though, we were fortunate to get enough snow to build the snowpack to an almost normal level which will be very good for our summer because we’ll have water thanks to the snowmelt running off the mountain and down into the plains.  That’s the important part I try to keep in mind even if those random storms and changes in weather put a kibosh on our winter hiking plans during the season.

– JC

 

 

No Words – Just Some Winter Beauty

Ok, so maybe a few words.  New Year’s weekend 2016 involved another snowshoe adventure because when the conditions are good and you’re not stuck at the office, you’ve just got to go!  This day took us up to Lake Helene and the views along the way were simply stunning.

Here’s just a couple of shots from that day that I liked the most.  This is definitely a hike we’ll have to do again no matter the season!

-JC

Winter Trek
Winter Trek
Notchtop Mountain at Lake Helene - Winter
Notchtop Mountain at Lake Helene – Winter

The Hiking Gourmet

With some good early snow coming to the high country last year, that meant that snowshoeing season could start early!  We were able to get out for a snowy hike the first weekend of December because there was already 2 feet of snow at higher elevations at Rocky Mountain National Park.  Yay mountain winters!

Our hike on the Flattop Mountain trail was relatively uneventful – just a patch of plain fun in the winter wonderland.  The centerpiece of the day’s trip was really the lunch because my husband decided to get “gourmet” about it and bring a special treat – hot cocoa!  Not just the water and powder kind either… he warmed up the milk and used the good stuff in it too.

Normally when we hike, the lunch is just some tortillas, salami, cheese, and cookies.  (More on the cookies later.)  We keep it simple enough to carry and caloric enough to fuel us on the day.  Greens are not the order of the day when we hike!

Snowshoe Gourmet Lunch
Snowshoe Gourmet Lunch

While we were huddled up having lunch in a patch of trees off of the trail, we noticed 2 things:

  1.  There was a really simple, yet pretty, scene shaping up among the trees with the light coming through the forest.  And…
Rocky in Winter
Rocky in Winter

2.  That – while hiking – I’m basically a little kid some days.  If I’m good and can make it a long way without hurting myself or whining, I get a cookie!  And we’re not talking a simple Oreo or Fig Newton – we’re talking a big, thick, chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookie!!  (What can I say?  I’m food motivated I guess!)

So our first winter outing was a success, and it happened before the winter solstice t’boot.  That’s a success in my book!

 

-JC

A Bit of Snowshoeing

Moving right along with the clean-up of the shots piled up on my phone, that brings us up to Christmas 2015 and some shots from a snowshoeing adventure up in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Snowshoeing is something I never tried until we moved to Colorado a couple of years ago.  My husband took me out with a guide to try it out and I immediately fell in love!  It wasn’t long after that trip that I suddenly owned my own pair of snowshoes.  Just too bad it was the end of the season and I only got to use them once!

This past winter was going to be my chance to dive in and really break in my new snowshoes and hang out in the snow.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate.  Most weekdays – while we were stuck at work for our “day jobs” – the weather was awesome.  Fresh snow, little wind, decent temperatures.  The weekends were another issue all together… storms rolling through, bringing with them lots of wind, biting windchills, and gobs of snow making navigating our way to and through the Park a little tricky.  Figures, right?

So yes, we were a tad wimpy when it came to wanting to avoid the wind and the travel headaches.  That meant we didn’t get out nearly as much as we had hoped.  The first time weather and time off lined up was just 2 days after Christmas – with fresh snow and “little” wind t’boot!

We chose to snowshoe up part of the Flattop Mountain trail at Rocky Mountain National Park because we know the trail, there’s plenty to see, and the lower parts of it are pretty sheltered by trees.  (We live only an hour from the Park, so that’s usually our go-to for snowshoeing because it keeps us out of miserable winter skiing traffic heading into the high country out west and gives us more time to play.)

With the snow that had fallen the day before, it was a winter wonderland.  Amazingly picturesque no matter which direction you looked.  The only complication was the wind picking up (not in the forecast… typical mountain weather!) and we were “bombed” by clumps of snow being tossed off of the pines.  No matter – it’s dry and fluffy snow, so it wasn’t like being pelted with chunks of wet, packed, ice-laden snow like we often get back on the East Coast.

The Trail Ahead
The Trail Ahead

We tooled around in the woods for a few hours, working up quite a sweat and an appetite.  (Showshoeing is an excellent workout, said to burn around 1200 calories an hour!)  We went a couple of miles up the trail until we found a nice sheltered spot in the woods an plunked ourselves down in the snow for a spot of lunch before heading back down.  I simply love being out in the snow, and I think my husband captured my utter glee quite well…

Me in Snowshoeing Glee
Me in Snowshoeing Glee

Once we got ourselves back down to Bear Lake, we popped out into one of the openings along the shoreline to check out the view.  It’s always so gorgeous at Bear Lake – unless the clouds move in and hide the mountains, of course!  That wasn’t the case for us that day.  It was quite spectacular and we quickly saw that we made the right decision to turn around when we did because the wind was only getting worse up high.

Windy Bear Lake Winter
Windy Bear Lake Winter

(That’s not clouds coming in over the mountains – that’s wind-driven snow being blown uphill and over the peaks from the western slopes!)

It’s only October now, but we’re already getting our hopes high and committing to getting out more this winter.  It may seem odd to be thinking about snow during the fall, but up at the higher elevations, it’s already snowing a little and winter will be going full-force within a month.  With a good storm or two, who knows?  Maybe we can break out the snowshoes again sooner than we thought!  (Fingers crossed!)

-JC