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.