Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Snowshoeing to Spearhead Peak

This is a hike I had been eyeing up for quite some time. Rocky Mountain National Park, a hike up from Bear Lake, to Spearhead.  

I cherry picked my day: warm, sunny, midweek (for parking access), and a while since it had snowed (so the powder was packed and quicker to walk on), but still I wasn't sure how feasible the goal was. The trail head is at 9100' MSL  and the base of Spearhead at 11250' MSL, over 2000' feet of ascent at altitude in snowshoes.

The trail immediately climbs quite a bit but the scenery is nice and mesmerizing, distant peaks, frozen waterfalls.

Once up to Mills Lake the grade calms down.

Mills Lake.

 Jewel Lake - I think.

After climbing up from Black Lake, I thought I might be turning around quickly, It had gotten pretty cold and the weather was turning. However just a few minutes later the sun poked through and the place changed dramatically.

Spearhead peak

West face of Longs peak (flat looking) up top at 14,259' MSL and "keyboard of the winds" formations.

Black Lake and McHenrys Peak 13,320' and Arrowhead (right).

Monday, January 20, 2020

Snow Shoe

Not quite the trip I had planned, we entered the park on MLK day and as such, there was no fee. Sure enough the parking lots were all full with lines of folks waiting for a spot, and others turning around. So plan B, we turned around and parked at Sprague Lake a couple miles back. This would mean an extra 4 miles walk, hmmm, so I picked a new route (using the free National Park Map). The Original plan had been to walk up to Black Lake and back, (south) from the Bear Lake parking lot.

Instead we hiked the blue tracklog (anti-clockwize). There were a few different varieties of woodpecker near Sprague Lake. I Didn't expect to see them in the depths of winter at this elevation. It was however a bright warm sunny day.

The trail started off well trodden (packed snow), so no need for snow shoes or even crampons.

It took over an hour to get to the original planned hike origin, pretty good views though.

I had never seen jack rabbit tracks in the snow before, not something I'd seen or expected up there. But of course they cannot migrate like birds do ;)

Crossing Prospect Canyon.

Some pretty cool snow formations from the different storms we've had this season.

Pretty close to the Glacier Gorge junction.

By the frozen Alberta Falls.

Soon after that we turned on North Longs Peak Trail. This is where the going got so much tougher. The trail was tough to trace through the snow.

After this bridge the going got even tougher.

Full confession I've not done much snowshoeing before, and I think previously it was a novelty walk.

This hike was quite a bit more serious. More so than the original plan. I did have a GPS/transponder with the trail mapped on to it, but traversing across a powder slope is hard work, like a steep sand dune in clown shoes. We've all been there! ahaha.

There were moments of nice views and obvious signs we were on a trail. We left the snowshoes on though after taking them off once. The time isn't saved, and without them, the snow quickly came up to hip level. It is then, really tough to get the shoes back on.

We peaked at somewhere around 10,300 ft. With clouds moving in, and being on the north side of a 14er, the shadows were getting long. Temperature was good though, right around freezing. 

Battle Mountain and Lady Washington in the background, picture is a bit blurry on account of planting my face in the snow after sliding while climbing a snowdrift.

Plodding along, the trail looks down sloping, but it wasn't. After this we got the hurry ups, So now more pictures. It was getting dark and we had a long way to go with the arduously slow progress. The downhill was also quite challenging but progress picked up. We arrived back at the truck perhaps 20mins after complete darkness. (other than our flash lights).


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Coney Flats



This ride took me 3 attempts, mostly due to nagivation issues, this time I had uploaded Open Street Map to my Garmin Inreach, which, while not totally accurate or detailed, has more user friendly information on it. Colorado was 88MB, a handy size that the device processes OK. Round trip was about 12 Miles which took me 3.5 hours. Pretty slow! That does include the picture stops, falling/laughing/restart, as well as the 1400ft  net ascent in the snow.
The day was cold, around 14'F and -10'F with the windchill. My clothes were barely adequate, even with the extras I brought along. Feet, Hands and Eyes need better. I'm going to try my old snowboard boots next time. Also I'm going to sew up some mittens, it's really just my finger tips that get chilled. And regular ski googles, since when I put the facemask on for the descent, my oversize sunglasses fogged, then iced up on the inside. Great fun though, I'm am looking forward to more exploring.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Fat Biking Christmas


With the recent snows, many of the lower bike trails close often due to mud. Skiing is on, but expensive and takes the whole day.

The local bike shop said "give Fat Biking a try" so I did. All in I bought a used bike, after I found one with acceptable specs, 4.5" tires are wanted for the fun aspect, otherwize you sink into the snow too much. 

On the other hand the snow also needs to be packed a little to be possible. I turned around at this point. I was pretty lost anyway.

Peaceful valley has left an impression on me. It's beautiful up there. Note I have also left a few impressions on it too ;) It's taken about 3 rides to know the right gear to wear and how to stay upright more. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Dream Lake

We went up to Bear lake in Rocky Mountain National Park since it was a nice day and we'd failed to find parking on the prior two attempts to visit.

Bear Lake is pretty much right next to the car park. But the view of Little Matterhorn mountain is pretty outstanding. Frozen Lakes are still a novelty for me.

As are frozen waterfalls. We continued our walk up to Dream Lake.


Just 500 feet higher but shaded and in a wind tunnel, this lake had a totally different feel. 

Pretty close to 10k feet

I think that may be Longs peak and Storm peak in the background.

Maddy is starting to get pretty good with the camera.

Halfway between Bear and Dream lake is Nymph lake, would be fun to try ice skate on one. I've no idea how the lumps would effect the skating, no Zambonis up here.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Gem Lake


This trail caught my attention on the REI hiking project site . With Rocky Mountain National Park, National Forest, Larimer open space, Boulder open space, preserves and State parks - It is a challenge to know what one can do where (and when) and this website seems to have the best information.


Beautiful day :)

Lots of good rocks to scramble about on.

I first spied this collection of rocks from Rocky Mountain national park in the summer. From a distance it looks like a big version of the Pinnacles, pretty similar from close up too.


Nice view south across Estes Park (above). Fun walking through Aspens in the snow. 

Cool 2 foot hole in granite.

This would be even more spectacular in the fall colour change.

Next trip we will bring crampons ;)


Looking west toward Trail Ridge.

Gem Lake is nested at ~8850ft in what is almost a hanging Gorge. Plenty of ice there at the moment.  


The lake is frozen solid. Not knowing how thick the ice was we stayed at the shallow end, but I'm pretty sure at was at least 6 inches thick.


In coming weather, time to get down.

Yup, crampons next time.

more cool rocks.

By the time we got down, the flurry had some big flakes.

Always neat to see some Elk.